It’s that time of the year again, when the motorcycling community comes to Olympia to meet with their legislators to discuss motorcycling issues. The annual “Black Thursday” event, hosted by ABATE of Washington and the Confederation of Clubs, will be on Thursday January 19th.
The active issues for this year:
Adult freedom of choice for helmet usage: As always, ABATE of WA will be bringing forward legislation to restore freedom of choice in helmet usage for adult riders. I have yet to see the final language, but I do not seriously expect any major changes to the proposed legislation. While the Washington Road Riders Association does not advocate that riders eschew riding with quality protective gear, the WRRA firmly believes that that decision should lie with the rider, not the government and supports ABATE in their efforts. For more information contact Brian Lange of ABATE.
Lane Sharing/Splitting: There will be a proposal offered to allow lane sharing/splitting in various targeted areas around the state. A final draft has yet to be introduced, but I know for a certain fact that the issue will be getting some sort of legislative attention. All riders should contact their Senator and both of their Representatives to support the spirit of this legislation. (See the talking points below)
Lane Sharing Talking 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.
A study done by UC Berkley indicated that the optimum speed differential between a motorcycle splitting lanes and the surrounding traffic should be in the 10 MPH range. 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 potential statutes) will continue to be problematic for pursuit and apprehension.
The Washington Motorcycle Safety Program: Many top training personnel from around the state have contacted me and expressed their concerns about the overall health of the program, as well as the immediate and long term future thereof. Over the past few years, the management of the motorcycle safety program that the riders of this state finance by their endorsement fees has seen an alarming shift from an open program dedicated to meeting the needs of riders for quality training to a more traditional, and at times entrenched, operation, more interested in bureaucratic accuracy than quality training. It has also seen an exodus of the top technicians of the program, dedicated people with years of riding and training experience who have decided to move out of the agency to concentrate on training. I cannot help but believe that part of the problem is the fact that the current, although temporary, program manager, as well as the permanent manager have absolutely zero background with motorcycles in general, therefore no real, down to earth vision of what it actually takes to train novice and experienced motorcyclists. While there is no immediate plans to offer any legislation, I think it is absolutely necessary that the Legislature hears the concerns of the riding community.
I’m quite sure that there is some issue that will ring with any rider, so it would be time well spent to get yourself to Olympia and make your voice known.
If you don’t know yet who your representatives are, follow this link.
Until next time,
Ride safely and legislate well,