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Arizona Considers Legalizing Lane-Splitting, Peanut Gallery Revolts

By March 19, 2010

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Motorcycle Lane Splitting
Motorcyclists in Arizona might get a chance to legally share lanes with cars next year, but if commenters on ABC 15's news report are any indication, non-riders are anything but pleased at the prospect.

House Bill 2475 proposes legalized lane-splitting for motorcycles only when cars are stopped, and touts benefits including lowering the odds of motorcycle rear-end accidents and reducing traffic congestion. The bill has passed House committees, and if it jumps through remaining hoops, will be instituted for a one-year trial in Maricopa County, Arizona.

On a personal note (as a California resident, where lane-splitting isn't illegal when it's done safely and prudently, according to the CHP), I'm surprised every time a lane-splitting proposal is met with resistance (as it was in Texas around this time last year.) Sharing lanes seems to work in Europe and other parts of the world, not to mention to mention here in California, as I've experienced firsthand-- when it's performed with a level head and a high degree of caution.

Do you think Arizonans should have a shot of legal lane-splitting, or is California just a bit too permissive with its motorcycle laws?

Source: ABC 15

Related:

Photo Getty Images; click to enlarge

Comments
March 20, 2010 at 1:56 am
(1) jb says:

I am a rider and still not that comfortable with lane splitting. I remember being a cager (before I was a rider) and thinking “Who the heck is that crazy guy on the bike splitting lanes, that looks super dangerous, that guy has some balls!”

I’m sure the average minivan driving soccer mom things something similar…

March 20, 2010 at 4:22 am
(2) RickRussellTX says:

I’m a rider in CA and I’m not very comfortable with lane splitting — I only do it when traffic is stopped or nearly stopped. I’m pretty horrified when a sportbiker blasts past me going 30 mpg faster than surrounding traffic.

But I think non-motorcyclists would be foolish to oppose it. Less gridlock, shorter wait times, etc? Who wouldn’t sign up for that?

I think it’s probably an issue of equity. Why should *they* get special privileges that the rest of us can’t take advantage of, even if we all benefit from increasing traffic density?

March 20, 2010 at 7:42 am
(3) Pete says:

Now just a minute here! I’m part of the peanut gallery and (most) my friends don’t think I’m especially revolting!!

Legal or not, – and it’s not legal north of the 49th – I’ve never been comfortable lane splitting. It’s not safe for the simple reason it pixxes car drivers off to a level that some clown sick to death of sitting in traffic is just as liable to take a swing at you or move his car over to block you in.
I had a beer can thrown at a friend & I once half way through about 3 miles of grid lock. (Alcohol is a wonderful thing)
Road rage is real..and not much get’s a car driver raging faster than a bike taking advantage.

March 20, 2010 at 8:22 am
(4) Chris says:

Come and ride in London UK – A whole new dimension in lane splitting/filtering etc.

I see quite a few accidents, none of them have been serious as the traffic is moving so slowly – just take it real easy and you’ll be fine.

Moving to the US next year and not looking forward not looking forward to the no filtering rule..

March 20, 2010 at 9:05 am
(5) Joe says:

I’m with jb on this one, I’m not comfortable with doing it . When I’m riding I try and go ways with less traffic and I’m never in a hurry when I’m on my bike.

March 20, 2010 at 10:11 am
(6) Dave says:

As a rider in both California and Utah – and after being hit by a truck – I am very aware of the dangers of riding.

I honestly believe that lane-sharing is safer than sitting in the “sandwich zone” between two bumpers. I’ve been rear-ended and hit by a pickup truck while occupying a whole lane. If I had been lane-sharing in either case I would not have been hit. In both cases it was the other driver’s fault.

Lane sharing reduces congestion, pollution and encourages people to use a very efficient form of transportation. When done properly it is safer than sitting in traffic (and I don’t have to switch my bike off to prevent overheating).

All the consternation about there being chaos on the road is from people who fear change. Most the rest of the nation thinks that California drivers are the worst in the nation (it’s a false, but common assumption) yet California drivers can exist in harmony with riders who lane-share.

Like any motor vehicle use, there will be those who abuse and misuse this privilege, however these are the riders who already misuse their machines.

We are invisible on the road and very vulnerable. Let us use our small size and agility to protect ourselves instead of making us act like cars. We can’t take a crash the way that a car can, so let us avoid getting hit and save a life.

March 20, 2010 at 10:18 am
(7) JJ says:

There are too many wackos out there who will take offense that a bike will zip thru a traffic jam and leave them behind. So I worry about the small percentage of nuts that would open a door or swerve to prevent me from passing thru. I’m not talking about accidental incidents, I’m talking about deliberate actions.

March 20, 2010 at 10:19 am
(8) Dave says:

One other thing to JB and other riders who are not comfortable with lane-sharing.

As with anything motorcycle-related: Ride your own ride! If you don’t want to lane-share then don’t. No one is forcing you to change the way you ride.

All I ask is that you don’t try to legislate your riding comfort to the rest of the riding community. Do you think I started lane-sharing in Bay Area traffic the day I bought my first motorcycle? Of course not! I had neither the skill nor the courage to try something like that. However, as I became a better rider and was more confident at controlling my bike in tight spots I started to “filter” through stopped traffic up to the light. First just one car, then a week later two or three. Eventually I became proficient at lane-sharing on the freeway – and I have never had a collision or crash while lane-sharing. However, I have been hit because I wasn’t in the “gap.”

Please, don’t legislate your own riding style. Lane-sharing riders have nothing against those who ride with traffic. We are all part of the same community.

March 20, 2010 at 10:21 am
(9) TEvoHST says:

Doesn’t surprise me. Motorbikes are just recreational vehicles here in the States. The vast majority don’t use them as the primary mode of personal transportation.

Puh-leeze. The mindset we have that operating a motor vehicle is a God-give right, no wonder we have opposition to a logical and sensible solution to reducing urban gridlock.

I mean, what the hell is it to motorists if motorcycles filter through? They won’t get any more delayed then they already are and it’s not the motorcyclists’ fault roads are so gridlocked with single occupancy cars and trucks jamming the streets and highways.

Granted, some riders go beyond the reasonable boundaries of prudent lane splitting and these should be punished just like any traffic offender but to say all lanesplliters are reckless yahoos is like saying every driver obeys all traffic laws (and posted speed limits).

I admit to some judicious lane-filtering when the streets are gridlocked. I don’t do it on expressways because it’s not legal here.

I prefer to be part of the solution by getting to where I need to go and out of the gridlock instead of being yet another vehicle jamming the roads.

This is how they roll in Europe:
http://ukfrancebikers.com/2010/03/14/french-motorcyclists-more-angry-than-ever/

March 20, 2010 at 10:24 am
(10) Dave says:

JJ,

That is always a concern and I did have it happen to me a couple of times in California. However, it is rare for a driver to try to hit a rider. Even in the small cases where drivers do try to block the road, they do so when they see you approach, not to try to hit you.

As with any road-rage incident, the best thing to do is defuse it. I change lanes away from the vehicle or just back off and let them block the road.

The difference, of course, is that California allows lane-sharing when traffic is flowing. This law would allow it only when traffic is stopped. This practice is more commonly called “filtering.” If traffic is stopped, how will a cager move their car sideways?

If your concern is vigilante cagers then the limitations of this proposal to stopped traffic should help assuage your worries.

March 20, 2010 at 11:10 pm
(11) Rebelion says:

The mentality is that everybody needs to be miserable stuck in traffic. Personally, I’ve been trapped in traffic jams in hundred degree temperatures, stopping, starting, hands cramping from clutching and braking, but not being able to take the bike out of gear to relieve the pain, because traffic might actually move an inch. I would have loved to spit traffic, but offficer friendly might give me a ticket or cart me off to jail for hazardous driving.

March 22, 2010 at 10:51 am
(12) sarrah says:

Been riding for years, lane splitting is safe as long as drivers don’t freak out. Also important to remember about this bill is that it is only making it legal to split lanes WHEN CARS ARE STOPPED. I think that this completely eliminates any dangers except for people opening doors and turning suddenly just to be mean. Ive talked to many people who don’t ride, and they say “why shouldn’t they have to wait in traffic like everyone else?” Well, first of all, temperature while on the asphalt in Phoenix can reach 145f, plus the heat from your engine, very dangerous. Second, the second most place for accidents is in stop and go traffic, and almost all of those accidents are rear end collisions, a car getting rear ended is a lot different than a bike getting rear ended.

March 24, 2010 at 11:05 am
(13) Darrell says:

Do you realize how freakin’ hot it is in AZ in the summer. Your brain cooks in your helmet. Let us split for heat stroke’s sake.

March 24, 2010 at 11:18 am
(14) Ian says:

I’ve never understood the justification for opposing lane splitting that goes “we can’t make it legal because crazy people will get mad.”

We don’t make rap or country music illegal because some drunk might shoot at a car that’s playing the music too loud. I can’t think of anything else that’s illegal based on how someone else *may* react to it.

I’ll agree that I don’t think it’s real bright to split lanes at 70 when traffic’s doing 50 or 60, but this law would make it legal only when traffic’s gridlocked. Letting the bikes through gets everyone there a little quicker, cuts the risk of cagers rear-ending bikes, and also cuts the likelihood of heat exhaustion for a biker in heavy traffic.

I used to split lanes on the worst part of my 70-mile commute before I was moved to a different office and it’s absolutely true that some out-of-state plated vehicles would deliberately try to cut me off, but the vast majority of drivers will actually move over a little to allow the motorcycle to pass through.

March 24, 2010 at 11:25 am
(15) Ernie Frye says:

I’ve been riding over 45 years and lane spliting is safer than sitting behind a cage and getting hit from behind. I have had some cagers try and squeez me and if it is too offencieve I have taken home a couple af rear view mirrors for trophys. Let those who ride deciede.

March 24, 2010 at 12:23 pm
(16) Pete says:

“I have taken home a couple of rear view mirrors for trophys”. You say that like you’re proud of it!
Ernie,
You’re exactly the kind of !@#$%^&! idiot that cause people in cars to act the way they do!
You’ll get what you deserve one day, and I hope I’m there to watch.

March 24, 2010 at 3:38 pm
(17) lastgasp says:

I’ve been splitting lanes since 1966 and have never had a close call resulting from it. It saves time . All anyone expects from you as a rider is some reasonable respect toward the cars and drivers.

March 24, 2010 at 4:02 pm
(18) Tp says:

Ok, lane splitting has to be done in a SAFE and PRUDENT manner. Passing between cars at 60 is just reckless driving . Passing other cars when traffic is moving at anything over about 20 mph is generally pointless anyway. The best approach is to pass when cars are so congested that they cannot change lanes . Been doing this in Bay Area traffic for 30 years, still got all my limbs and mirrors.

And for those who think this should be mandated against simply because they are afraid of some angry motorists, I find it far more common these days for people to actively move over a little to make it easier .

March 25, 2010 at 5:24 pm
(19) RJ says:

Been riding for a long time, live in SoCal, and am the president of a large riding club. Not everyone likes or splits lanes and there are those that do it dangerously. Public claims that if this was passed it would increase the accident rate. I believe if you look at it statistically, you would see that bikes being rear-ended is more prominent. Most riders don’t “split” lanes in rural areas while the traffic is actually moving. Putting yourself between or ahead of a vehicle that is not moving is safer than having one approach you. If you get rear-ended in a car, you say ouch. If you get rear-ended on a bike, you probably aren’t going to be able to say much at all.
The comments about “drivers” getting mad because “bikes” are getting ahead of them is selfish. Have they ever considered sitting out in the sun on a hot day waiting in traffic “without” AC and with a “hot” motor between their legs?

March 25, 2010 at 11:44 pm
(20) G says:

I have been lane sharing for over 30 years and I have never had an accident because of my lane sharing. I only do it in gridlock traffic and while it is true that some drivers have tried to block me or squeeze me, it is easy to avoid and I just wait until traffic start moving a little and get around them. It is far more common for attentive drivers to move over a little to let you by. On an intersting note: most of the vehicles that have tried to be a**holes by blocking or squeezing attempts have been pick up trucks or big SUV’s with macho looking guys in them getting all blustery. By squeezing, I mean that the car actually moves over far enough to straddle two lanes – without a turn signal – which in itself is actually illegal and these are the guys who get the most mad when I get around them and try to tell me I’m breaking the law. Go figure.

March 26, 2010 at 12:15 am
(21) Rowajo says:

I’ve been riding just over 30 years, and will keep on lane splitting when it is safe to do so. As someone has stated above, mutual respect between road users is the answer. If the 4+wheelers stay in the middle of their lanes, there is usually more than enough space for a biker to pass safely, even down here in good old South Africa…
It assists with gridlocks / traffic jams, and generally saves fuel and time for all in the long run, and unfortunately I have to agree with G: the “squeezing” a**holes here are also mostly drivers of bigger expensive vehicles, and do not forget the fools that use cellphones and other gadgets while driving!

March 26, 2010 at 7:38 pm
(22) Rumble says:

I occasionally split lanes in stopped or slow moving traffic around NYC and the New York Metro. I feel it is a lot safer than getting rear ended. Not blasting by the stopped cars but filtering steady and safely through the traffic. In the heat of summer, on an air cooled bike, it is almost a necessity to keep moving. You simply can’t just sit there in a helmet with heat of the bike and 3 lanes of gridlocked traffic…it is unbearable.

March 30, 2010 at 2:39 pm
(23) Brett954 says:

Im all for lane splitting (sharing)! Being a California resident and doing it for over 8 years. It “can” be perfectly safe and effective. Go Arizona! When are the other states going to catch up…??

April 6, 2010 at 7:34 pm
(24) Harry Skigis says:

I think in Arizona we have the worst drivers I have ever been witness too. No one pays attention as it is. As a rider I would love to see this legal, but as someone that lives in Arizona, I wouldn’t feel safe splitting lanes in this state.

May 7, 2010 at 12:15 am
(25) Saram says:

absolutely, I’ve been riding in AZ for almost 10 years and spent 6 months in California. It’s the only thing I miss about the place. As with all aspects of riding a motorcycle applying good judgement, respect and caution are crucial to safety. I’d like to think the same for lane splitting. Now lets just hope certain riders don’t abuse the priviledge and ruin for the rest of us.

May 12, 2010 at 6:11 pm
(26) u2metoo says:

Rats! I believe Gov. Brewer vetoed the bill.

May 25, 2010 at 7:37 pm
(27) Matt says:

Everyone continues to say that there are nuts out there who will, in one way or another, “attack” a motorcyclist for lane-splitting. This sounds like a problem for the driver of the car with anger issues, they need to follow common laws. If drivers are so irritated that motorcyclist get to lane-split then perhaps they should ride and benefit from it like the rest of us. I find it extremely uneven that there is even a debate regarding lane-splitting but helmets are optional? Majority of lane splitting is done when traffic is at a stand still and cars are stopped (ie at a light or something). if a car is to jump lanes and possibly hit a motorcyclist, shouldn’t they be checking before changing lanes first? a lot of accidents are caused by not paying attention or not completing a simple rule that was taught to all of us in drivers education, for example, LOOK BEFORE PULLING OUT INTO TRAFFIC. I cannot begin to explain how often people pull in front of me on my bike. And the worst part is, I also drive a lifted pickup and it happens just as much….. therefore, the excuse that I didn’t see the small motorcycle doesn’t apply!

July 8, 2010 at 9:17 am
(28) ed says:

status of bill

TRANSMIT TO HOUSE: 04/29/10
TRANSMITTED TO: GOVERNOR 04/29/10
ACTION: VETOED 05/11/10

http://www.azleg.gov/FormatDocument.asp?inDoc=/legtext/49leg/2r/bills/hb2475o.asp

September 22, 2010 at 8:42 am
(29) Aussie in AZ says:

In Australia also, we are allowed to lane split if the traffic is stopped. It is a great idea and works well just as it does in CA. I would welcome it here in AZ for a few reasons; to save gas, to reduce rear end smashes involving bikes and to get out of the heat sooner. Those who oppose are only car drivers who are stuck in traffic and wish they weren’t.
Cheers

March 8, 2011 at 10:52 am
(30) Reggie says:

People in cars don’t want to see someone else proceed further down the road, faster down the road than they. Misery loves company while they don’t have the courage or the skill to ride on two wheels, braving the eliments and poor drivers.
On the other hand I grew up in Tucson and learned to ride there. I now live in San Diego. Seems like lane splitting makes a lot more sense wearing a helmet.

October 12, 2012 at 2:07 pm
(31) trevor says:

Funny Ive been riding bikes all my life dirt street. I prefer the sport bikes most are faster tven the average greater breakig steering. And all around handling. I have noticed a frew miss conceptions about bikers. If you want to make the roads safer you make cagers get safty classes every 10 years or each time their car had increased in hp more than 50% or the weight goes up each I belive is an contributer to accidents. I see more suvs and moms and grandma’s with kids in car speeding past me every. Morming in rush hrs traffic. I am doing 70 And its never fast enough for them I really think they’re driving beond their ability

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