SB 5623 , the Lane Sharing bill is rapidly approaching being on life support with death imminent. Currently there is not enough support to move the bill out of committee, and there is absolutely zero declared Democratic support. Senator Sheldon has requested that the riders of Washington contact their senators and ask that they support moving the bill out of committee (if your senator is on the Transportation Committee) or, if they are not on the committee, ask that they speak to their colleagues on transportation in favor of moving the bill. If the bill does not clear the committee by this coming Friday is will be effectively dead.
Most people are already aware of the positives for lane sharing; clearing congestion, protection of the rider by removing the exposure to rear end collision, saving heat related wear and tear on both rider and motorcycle, etc. I have put together some bullet points to address some of the push back that I have heard, both during committee and in my numerous conversations throughout the campus. We need to make senators comfortable with the actual facts so that they do not make decisions based on assumptions and scare tactics.
Lane Sharing Rebuttal Points
- Accidents will not increase.
- By moving between lanes the need to scan the rear 180 degrees of area is eliminated, and the need to side scan is lessened, allowing the rider to concentrate forwards, locating potential conflicts well in advance.
- Maximum speed differential between bikes and autos will be 10 MPH (15 FPS) allowing a 2-3 car length minimum distance for rider reaction.
- Injuries will not increase.
- With the 10 MPH (15 FPS) speed differential any collisions that might occur will be more as a bump or brush than the catastrophic collisions that could occur at greater differential speeds incident with a rear end collision.
- Vehicles will not change lanes into motorcycles.
- With the 2-3 (minimum) car length advance scan available riders will see the potential lane change situation developing well enough in advance to mitigate the hazard. Any spot opening up in a lane that will allow a vehicle to change lanes will be spotted by the rider as it opens up so that they can respond appropriately.
- As an overtaking vehicle, a motorcycle will still bear the responsibility incumbent with being an overtaking vehicle.
- Enforcement will not be any more difficult than with the current statute.
- Enforcement could even be easier, as an officer could make the discretionary call that lane sharing/splitting is being done in a safe and sane manner, therefore no enforcement pursuit is necessary.
- High speed lane splitting (illegal under current and proposed statutes) will continue to be problematic for pursuit and apprehension.
I will be working the halls next week, and it would be great to hear from senators that they are hearing lots of positive feedback on the issue. It’s time to “call out the dogs” as Karen Bolin used to say and rock the phone lines.
If you aren’t sure who your senator is (for shame) look here.
Until next time, ride safely and legislate well.
“Texas” Larry Walker
Washington Road Riders Association Government Relations