Opinions on a bill enabling motorcyclists to ride between traffic lanes on highways in Oregon are firmly held on both sides. Senate Bill 422 would legalize lane splitting by motorcycles and mopeds under specific conditions.
Kris Regentin, a lobbyist with Lane Share Oregon, has stated that motorcycle riders have a much lower risk of severe injury or death if they are involved in an accident while using this lane-sharing technique.
“We’re very strongly concerned about this practice,” said Jana Jarvis, president, and CEO of the Oregon Trucking Association. “This is unenforceable when you think about it.”
A bill with comparable language, Senate Bill 574, was presented to then-Governor Kate Brown in 2021. She rejected the legislation because she was worried about the legality and public safety.
Bill 422 would “establish a conditional exemption to the violation of motorcycle or unlawful moped passing in a lane with a vehicle,” officials stated in a public hearing on Thursday.
Motorcycle Speed Restriction
If the motorcycle rider is on a highway with a speed restriction greater than 50 mph, if the speed of the surrounding traffic is less than 10 mph, and if the biker is not allowed to exceed the speed of the surrounding traffic by more than 10 mph, those are all factors to consider.
Both proponents and opponents of this view have staunch supporters.
“Usually one person in one car takes up a lot of space, 1% are motorcycle. We take up maybe a quarter of the space of a car,” said Shahin Alvandi, a motorcyclist. “We don’t take a lot of space, and it’s safer for us as motorcyclists and not be, you know, out in the open so we can kind of filter between cars and trucks.”
“I disagree with those notions,” said Sgt. Joshua Wilson with Washington County Sheriff’s Office in the public hearing. “For several reasons. First, our highways are not designed for this. Lanes are marked, and drivers are expected other drivers will have a full adjacent lane to pass with a safe and reasonable distance on each side. I firmly believe that allowing lane splitting or lane filtering will only decrease highway safety and increase those chances of injury.”
Here is the tweet about senate bill 422
Opinions on a bill enabling motorcyclists to ride between traffic lanes on highways in Oregon are firmly held on both sides. Senate Bill 422 would legalize lane splitting by motorcycles and mopeds under specific conditions.#Oregon #Portland pic.twitter.com/o3OgNXCfsp
— news worldbulletin (@NWorldbulletin) March 6, 2023
Compliance was another issue brought up by those who opposed the law.
“The practical reality is that it will only increase the incidents of motorcycles and lane splitting in general traffic conditions,” said Jarvis. “Lane splitting up to 40, 50 miles an hour.”
“As a motorcyclist who has practiced it in states where it’s legal, like Utah in California, I can tell you that under no circumstances am I going to be swerving and weaving because it would present danger to myself,” said Regentin, “so really, it’s about the motorcyclist and others involved in traffic sort of just moving carefully and intentionally as they’re as they’re driving together.”
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Portland police would want to remind drivers that lane splitting is against the law in Oregon and Washington, where this bill is now being considered and debated.
“Currently, several years have gone by where they’re trying to make it legal,” said Sgt: Ty Engstrom, traffic division with the Portland Police Bureau. “There are arguments on both sides of the fence as to whether they’re not that should be legal. But at this point, it is not legal yet.”