Motorcycle Safety – Target Zero – Washington State
June 20, 2016
I am an officer with the Washington State Patrol and an avid motorcycle rider. I am a proponent, not of splitting lanes (because it’s very dangerous), but of providing motorcycles a way of bypassing traffic during congestion by using shoulders. Shoulders are wide enough to accomodate the bike safely without a motorist changing lanes into them (reasonably speaking). Splitting will increase collisions without a doubt, increase property damage from accidental strikes in close proximity, and greatly increase hit & run collisions. Close proximity collisions give the motorcycle splitting the lane an easy way to escape while the car/truck is stuck in traffic and unable to obtain information. The bike will simply ride off without any information left behind for follow-up (because they can and the temptation is too great to do so).
So in short, open the shoulders to bikes, eliminate the possibility of lane-splitting.
I’ve been riding for 5 years, of those 5, 3 were in L.A.. one in San Diego and another in Salt Lake City.
In Los Angeles I splitted if traffic was stopped, or if cars were moving under 50mph. Any faster and it didn’t feel safe for me. I also never sped during lane splitting, never splitted on roads with narrow lanes, and I used my hazard lights to be seen.
In San Diego, I rarely EVER splitted because I didn’t need to. Only on Friday nights pulling into my exit by Pacific Beach did I need to split a little.
I only splitted once in Salt Lake. It was a really hot day and I was wearing full leathers because I like being safe. Traffic was at a standstill so I splitted between the carpool lane and the second lane. Hazards on, rode slow. A few people honked, but I was not doing it dangerously. A few cars with California tags moved out of the way for me like they usually do in California.
Lane splitting is NOT dangerous. It may seem so to you because you’ve probably never done it.
There are plenty of studies that show how relatively safe it is.
Using shoulders is a good idea tho, except for one caveat. They need to be swept. They contain a high number of debris that can cause an accident or a flat.
I know this because I’ve used the shoulders before.
If you have any questions reach out to me. Maybe if you visit L.A. I can take you for a tour of the 10 during rush hour. 🙂
I think it could work
SAFE lane splitting should be allowed. Particularly during the introductory period, cyclists need to be more cautious but the allowance of safe splitting would result in reduced traffic and lower risk.
Lane splitting is dangerous and should not be confused with lane filtering. Lane filtering occurs at a red light with stopped traffic present. A motorcyclist can drive between cars to the red light. This enables the biker to avoid the most fatal of collisions, rear ending. It is the type of accident you are least likely to survive. Lane splitting? No. Lane filtering? Yes!
Yes to lane splitting! The pros outweigh the cons here. Yes this may be risky at first, but it is up to riders to learn when this maneuver is appropriate, and it can be added into instructional courses for cars and motorcycles. It is bad and life threataning to fall off your motorcycle, but far more fatal to be hit from in front or behind by a car. This is a solution that will lower fatal motorcycle accidents.
Lane splitting or lane sharing can be good and bad. To start with, if the motorcyclist is not comfortable splitting or sharing lanes, they should not do it. 2. The speed at which the motorcyclist is traveling over the speed of surrounding traffic is a major factor in determining whether it’s safe or not. 3. When lane splitting or sharing, the motorcyclist is typically in other driver’s blind spot or is in an area where auto drivers are not accustom to seeing other drivers/riders, so there is already a factor of danger. The motorcyclist must always be on the alert to cars/trucks changing lanes or making unexpected turns or maneuvers and as always, not being able to see the motorcycle. If the motorcyclist is alert to the dangers, minimizes his speed and respects other drivers, he can split or share lanes with out incident. I’ve done it for years in California where it’s legal. I limited my speed to 10 to 15 mph faster than surrounding traffic and was always on the look out for what other drivers might do or be preparing to do.
I live in California, I lane split 60-120 miles a day, all the police motorcycles split lanes as well, All you to do is be super aware of your surroundings, be ready to stop or do evasive manuevers and EXPECT cars to do stupid things or not see you. Added costs? That is the stupidest thing i have ever heard….
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I recently moved to the Seattle area from the California Bay Area. I have been commuting on motorcycles for about 25 years now in both California and Spain where lane splitting is legal (or at least not illegal). My most recent commute (65 miles each way) would have been impossible save for using my bike to filter back and forth.
I am a strong proponent of lane splitting as I believe it reduces congestion and encourages more people to use motorcycles and join our wonderful sport. If Washington decides to move forward with allowing lane splitting they will have a unique opportunity to set safety rules and guidelines that were never available in California. Not all lane splitters in CA did it well or safely, and some rules and regs would go a long way to making it safer.
It’s just not a good thing.
First I thought your example of lane splitting in your video was horrible. This is not how Washington legislature design a law that is going to dictate lane splitting in Washington state. It is a POOR representation of the law. That rider was reckless and going WAY faster than surrounding traffic and that’s not how the Washington law reads. Maybe do some research before posting this shameful video.
With increased traffic coming I believe lane splitting is the right way to go
We will learn to adapt. I have done it and enjoyed it
Necessity in California
Bikes can be safer after they clear congested areas. Cars are really part of the problem and their drivers however in years ahead they may improve also
I am a firm believer of lane-splitting even though I don’t live in California. I ride in Houston, TX and I filter through traffic daily as Houston has heavy traffic everyday. Lane splitting in my mind is safer than sitting in traffic letting my bike over heat and myself. I don’t see why the US haven’t made this a law like the Europeans. i didn’t buy a motorcycle to be a car.
I ride an 05 Harley Davidson sporty low. I am FOR lane splitting.
1-education is in place already for motorcycle riding. I took the class. Twice. Lol
2-there will be a period of learning for all drivers to be aware of it.
3-increases safety because of added education that teaches some drivers to actually watch for motorcyclists.
4-speed limits should be are approached with caution. My bike can do maneuvers your car can’t.
The last motorcyclist was traveling to fast in accordance with the conditions.
10 over the pace of traffic is safe. If it’s a stand still. They can go 10.
If it’s pacing at 30 they can go 40. NOT 70 because that’s not safe.
4% less traffic is better then 0% improvement.
I am not a fan of riding between cars on the highway.. But it really depends on the size of the bikes..
I am mor for letting motorcycles to utilize the shoulders when the traffic is slow.
I do not think it’s safe or worth doing. My husband refuses to do it if law goes into afect. It’s just not a good idea.
I am all for lane splitting. When I ride in CA it is a great way to keep moving. It’s not a way to go faster than everyone else, it’s a way to just keep moving when traffic is slow moving or at stop. Drivers I have spoken to are fearful that motorcyclist are going to be passing them on the highway on all sides. The truth is there is just one splitting lane, and that is on the right of the furthest left lane. There absolutely would be an educational period for motorcyclist and drivers. I fully support the splitting of claims and hope to see it happen here in Washington.
Lane splitting just makes sense. Also let motorcycle use commuter lanes, they’re saving energy. We just spent 2 weeks in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming,and South Dakota riding without helmets. We lived in Arizona and rode for 30 years without helmets, on a hot day a helmet is like an easy bake oven. Quit punishing safe bikers for the actions of idiots that abuse speed and conditions. The government needs to quit protecting us from ourselves.
Lane splitting would be fine if the traffic is not moving at all or under 5 mph, there should also be a safe speed limit for bikes while lane splitting encase a door is opened or a car changes lanes. I feel it would be better to use the shoulder of the road instead of lane splitting.
When and if Lane splitting were to be allowed proper education and enforcement is a must. With the relatively low volume of riders here in the NW it will take time. To make it safe and sucsessful riders must travel at a speed just slightly above the flow of traffic and we need a limit. No lane splitting over 35 mph…period and add the technique to advanced level of MSF training courses. No lane splitting allowed for tiers with a learners permit would also be smart.
I would really like to see the video used for reference show safe Lane splitting as well as the current one showing a poorly trained and obviously less then intelligent rider as an example.
I will not lane split unless traffic is stopped and I need to cool off a hot engine.
Car drivers already dislike us motorcyclists and this will agitate car people further.
The freeways essentially will have added lanes, which will create more activity witch will add to everybody’s task. We know how well humans handle the tasks they already have, and that’s not very well. Just another reason to retire soon.
That’s not my experience from my years of lane splitting. It feels more like you are in a tunnel. Cars in California get out of the way, most bikes only lane split on the fast lane. Most of us don’t speed while splitting. If a gap is too small, we usually wait until it opens up. It is actually a pretty safe practice and accidents are rare. fatal ones are even rarer.
While I see a definite upside to not being stuck in a rolling slowdown, I’ve had friends in California who have had people in cars open their doors as they were passing. One was hurt badly. While it might be a good thing overall, I would always worry about the crazies.
In stop and go traffic nothing faster and 25 miles an hour
I testified during the last hearing on lane splitting. I frequently ride the slog between Northgate and Downtown Seattle. During hot days, the trip can be physically exhausting (heat from the sky, heat from the road, heat from the bike and the heat from cars).
During the hearing, the WA Traffic Safey Commission showed a series of Youtube clips where riders plowed into vehicles. They were promptly called out on it.
Legalizing lane splitting would be great for us commuters. It would provide an option for us riders. Not everyone is going to split congestion, and, if there’s adverse weather, I’d be less likely to perform the action. The ability to filter through congestion is already used by WSP (Bellevue). …and I believe the other motorcyclists should also be allowed to do the same.
If others want to do it, fine. I won’t. But can we re-emphasize that it is still illegal in Washington? I see other riders do it every rush hour and it drives me nuts.
Lane splitting is like loud pipes save lives… some say yes some say no. Personally, I don’t have the cajones to split lanes. If I did, riding would be very uncomfortable for me.
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In my opinion the basic vehicle driver is totally UNAWARE that lane sharing is a legal thing for a motorcycle to do… That’s the problem is safety of lane sharing. Many people DO NOT EXPECT a motorcycle to be coming between cars, in Indiana it really isn’t nessasary to have this because there just isn’t that much congestion in highway or city traffic. You very seldom see a motorcycle lane sharing.. I personally have never heard of this until 4 years ago and have been riding for 13 years. I understand about sitting in traffic and getting rear ended.I understand to move your bike between lanes, but only to the car directly in front on you.Not to gain position in traffic lets say passing 30,cars lane sharing to,get to the light. People here just are not EXPECTING THIS its is very seldom seen or nessasary only in certain situations. If you do lane sharing here you are more likely to get hurt by careless drivers not driving totally in there lane forcing a bike to move into the lane in the way of another car.. Until the Bureau of Motor Vehicles does a state wide campaign informing drivers that this is a legal form of riding for a motorcycle I WOULD ADVISE AGAINST LANE SHARING… PEOPLE JUST DONT PAY ATTENTION BEING on cell phone, texting, etc drivers are just to distracted for a motorcycle to try such a monuver….
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