Our Northwest

California legalizes motorcycle ‘lane splitting’

Friday, May 29, 2015by  Jon Osterberg

The news out of California surprised me. I thought it was very old news, but apparently not.
     The state Assembly approved legislation May 28 that allows motorcycles to ride in between cars on clogged freeways, straddling lanes to squirt through traffic jams.
     So, lane-splitting is not already legal in California? From what I’ve seen during many visits to L.A. over the decades, I assumed it was.
     Opponents deride the practice, mainly because they think it’s dangerous. The bill would allow motorcycles to weave between cars and go as much as 15 mph faster than the traffic flow, up to a maximum of 50 mph.
     Just yesterday a motorcycle squeezed past me on the shoulder of congested SR 520 where it transitions onto the bridge deck. I’m pretty sure that’s illegal, and perhaps using the shoulder doesn’t count as lane-splitting in California.
     Similar legislation has been proposed in Washington and Oregon, so far to no avail. Read the article that ran in the Spokesman-Review.
     On another freeway-related topic, Washington motorists must wait for the outcome of a state Department of Transportation study that will determine if it’s safe to raise the speed limit to 75 mph on rural sections of I-90. Gov. Inslee partially vetoed the legislation on April 22, saying it’s premature, pending the outcome of thorough safety studies.

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