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NCOM Biker Newsbytes for August 2021

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Legislative Motorcycle News from Around the World

The Highway Bill passes but…, Feds investigate auto-pilot car accidents, anti-profiling in California, lane-filtering, Sturgis Motorcycle Rally turnout, bad-driving and road-rage post-lockdown, fuel prices at a high, International Motorcycle Show, news you should use.

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Oregon governor blocks motorcycle ‘lane splitting’ bill

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by Sara Cline from https://www.sfgate.com

Earlier this month, Oregon lawmakers passed a bill that would allow motorcyclists to drive between slow or stopped traffic.

However, despite bipartisan approval and hundreds of letters of written testimony — overwhelmingly in favor of the “lane splitting” legislation — Gov. Kate Brown this week vetoed the measure, citing public safety concerns.

“I have several concerns with the bill as currently drafted, particularly related to public safety and noncompliance,” Brown said in a Wednesday letter to the state Senate president and House speaker, which was obtained by Oregon Public Broadcasting.

Senate Bill 574 would have permitted motorcyclists to drive between lanes, on multilane highways, when traffic slowed to 10 mph (16 kph) or less — also known as “lane splitting” or “lane filtering.” In this situation, motorcyclists riding between cars could travel no more than 10 mph faster than the flow of traffic.

States like California and Utah have enacted similar laws.

While this idea concerned some drivers, motorcyclists argued lane splitting actually improves safety.

“Perhaps one of the more dangerous situations for any on-highway motorcyclist is being caught in congested traffic, where stop-and-go vehicles, distracted and inattentive vehicle operators and environmental conditions pose an increased risk of physical contact with another vehicle or hazard,” Nicholas Haris, a representative for the American Motorcyclist Association, said in written testimony. “Even minor contact under such conditions can be disastrous for motorcyclists.”

According to the Oregon Department of Transportation, in 2018, the most recent data available, there were 78 deadly motorcycle crashes in the state.

“I have witnessed — during rolling traffic slowdowns on the Southern California freeway — motorcyclists cautiously, slowly and effectively moving through traffic and eliminating themselves from the traffic backup,” Kate Stoller, an Oregon motorcyclist, said in written testimony.

In Utah, legislation passed in 2019 allows for lane filtering. Prior to the law, in 2018 the state had 28 fatalities involving motorcyclists. The following year it reported 18.

Proposals to allow lane splitting have been introduced repeatedly in Oregon but stalled in the Legislature. This year the bill had a bipartisan group of sponsors from both chambers. In the House the bill passed 42-14, and in the Senate it passed 18-6.

But some disagreed that the bill would make roads safer — the latest being Oregon’s governor.

“Many stakeholders, including law enforcement agencies and members of the public remain concerned that lane filtering is unsafe for both the motorcyclists and the drivers sharing the road, due to the serious injuries and death that commonly result from motorcycle-involved accidents,” Brown wrote.

“Based on these concerns, I am returning SB 574 unsigned and disapproved,” the governor wrote.

A legislative override of her veto would require a two-thirds vote in each chamber.

Lane Filtering awareness on Motorcycle Awareness Month

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by Mercy Owusu from https://www.abc4.com

Expect to see motorcycles lane filtering, it’s legal under certain circumstances

Lane Filtering is NOT the same as Lane Splitting. Legal for roads with speed limit NOT LEGAL on Freeways.

UTAH – As the weather continues to get warmer, Utahans can expect to see more motorcycles on the road — and more motorcycles means more lane filtering.

The Department of Public Safety wants to remind drivers they can expect to see motorcycles lane filtering, as well as remind motorcyclists of the conditions under which lane filtering is legal.

What is Lane filtering?
Lane filtering is when motorcyclists move between two lanes to the front of traffic that is stopped at an intersection.

Motorcycle lane filtering was made legal under certain circumstances in Utah in May of 2019. The decision came after the Utah legislature’s passage of HB 149 during the 2019 legislative session.

Officials say the law for lane filtering was designed to prevent or reduce rear-end collisions between approaching vehicles and motorcycles stopped in traffic.

They added, unlike lane “splitting,” lane “filtering” is intended to provide a “safety pocket” for motorcycles when encountering stopped traffic.

Since motorcycle riding is seasonal in Utah, some drivers may be surprised when they see motorcyclists who are lane filtering.

Officials emphasized that lane filtering between stopped vehicles on roadways with at least two lanes in the same direction and speeds of 45 mph and lower is legal in Utah.

Having a motorcycle pass closely to your stopped vehicle can be startling. However, officials say if you’re aware that lane filtering is legal and know to expect it, you can maintain an awareness of your surroundings and reduce the element of surprise.

Motorcycles can lane filter in Utah when the following conditions are met, according to officials:

  • The individual is on a roadway divided into two or more adjacent traffic lanes in the same direction of travel
  • The individual is on a roadway with a speed limit of 45 miles per hour or less; this means it is never legal on the freeway
  • The vehicle being overtaken in the same lane is stopped
  • The motorcycle is traveling at a speed of 15 miles per hour or less
  • The movement may be made safely

Oregon considering motorcycle ‘lane filtering’ bill

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by Chris McGinness from https://www.ktvb.com

Motorcycle ‘lane filtering’ bill has strong support in Oregon

It’s not like California. Think of motorcycles passing at parking lot speeds. Supporters tout rider safety.

When you’re driving on a crowded freeway how would you feel about sharing the road with motorcycles moving from lane to lane? Sound scary and dangerous? Riders say it could actually be safer than what’s allowed now.

“Lane filtering,” as proposed in Oregon Senate Bill 574 (summary here), would allow motorcyclists to move back and forth between very slow moving traffic on multi-lane Oregon highways. Similar legislation has been discussed since 2015. This time around, there are clearer definitions for when the practice would be legal.

Still, the perception many drivers have about lane filtering is of the occasional reckless rider zipping though traffic. We asked a few motorists about it as they gassed up at Radio Cab in Northwest Portland.

“It scares me a little bit,” a man named Ravi said. “If there’s’ something in the road and I have to get out the way really quickly, I would hate to accidentally have to merge into his driving lane.”

“Well, I think that’s an incredibly bad idea but if you want to take that risk,” said a woman named Kate.

The lane filtering proposed in Oregon takes many of the concerns into consideration.

“Traffic has to be either stopped or moving less than 10 miles an hour. The motorcyclist cannot exceed the speed of traffic by more than 10 miles an hour,” said longtime motorcyclist Patrick Leyshock of Northeast Portland.

Advocates, of which there are many of both sides of the political spectrum, point to three benefits to permitting lane filtering: reduced congestion, reduced emissions and enhanced rider safety.

This last point seems counterintuitive unless you’ve ever ridden a motorcycle in stop-and-go freeway traffic.

“A motorcyclist in stop-and-go traffic is basically a sitting duck there,” said Leyshock. “You’re exposed to the elements, exposed to the traffic around you. This bill would allow you to actually position yourself in a safer place, namely between cars. And again, we’re talking essentially parking lot speeds here.”

“California has unequivocally shown that in the event of an accident, riders who are lane sharing are less likely to be killed or injured,” Leyshock said, referring to a 2015 UC-Berkeley Study.

California, Utah and Montana have legalized some form of lane filtering. With new clarification of the guidelines, the governor’s motorcycle advisory committee removed opposition to the bill.

Montana Passes Motorcycle Lane-Filtering Legislation

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from https://www.cyclenews.com

This is a press release from American Motorcyclist Association.

Montana becomes the third U.S. state to allow filtering in traffic.

Montana has become the third state to recognize lane filtering, with the Gov. Greg Gianforte’s signature on a bill legalizing filtering of motorcycles under certain conditions.

“We applaud the efforts of Montana’s motorcycling community and the state’s legislators, and thank Gov. Gianforte for signing this legislation into law,” said Russ Ehnes, chair of the AMA Board of Directors.

S.B. 9 allows the operator of a two-wheeled motorcycle to overtake stopped or slow-moving vehicles at a speed not in excess of 20 mph, to filter between lanes of stopped traffic traveling in the same direction as conditions permit, and specifies reasonable and prudent motorcycle operation while lane filtering.

“With the signing of S.B. 9, Montanans have recognized the benefits of lane splitting, which allows motorcyclists the choice to filter in traffic when it is safe to do so,” said Tiffany Cipoletti, on-highway government relations manager for the American Motorcyclist Association.

The bill, sponsored by state Sen. Russ Tempel (R-SD14) and state Rep. Barry Usher (R-HD40), was signed by Gov. Gianforte on March 2 at a public signing ceremony in Helena. Ehnes was in attendance. The bill takes effect October 1, 2021.

California (A.B. 51, 2016) and Utah (H.B. 149, 2018) were the first two states to codify and sign lane-splitting or lane-filtering legislation. Efforts to legalize and formally recognize lane filtering/splitting is under consideration in three other states during the 2021 legislative session.

The AMA endorses lane splitting, given the long-term success in California and the University of California-Berkeley research study showing that the practice enhances motorcycle safety. The AMA will assist groups and individuals working to bring legal lane splitting and/or filtering to their state.

“As lane splitting support continues to gain traction across the country, I am eager to help more motorcyclists engage their state legislatures on this issue,” Cipoletti said.

The full AMA position statement on lane splitting can be found at americanmotorcyclist.com/lane-splitting/.