As of January 2020, California is the only U.S. state that formally authorizes motorcyclists to lane split. Utah passed a law to allow riders to lane filter in 2019, while Hawaii made shoulder surfing legal in rush hour traffic situations in 2018. Arizona and Virginia could soon join California on the elite list of lane-splitting-friendly states.
Proposals to legalize lane splitting both in Arizona and Virginia were recently submitted to those states’ legislative bodies. According to Common Tread, the Arizona bill was introduced by Representative and Arizona House Transportation Committee chairman Noel Campbell, a former Navy and U.S. Forest Service pilot and a motorcycle tour guide. The law would allow riders to lane split on roads of more than one lane in the same direction with a speed limit of 45 mph or less and when traffic is cruising at no more than 15 mph.
This isn’t the first time the State is looking into making the maneuver legal. A similar bill was introduced in 2017 but ultimately fell through.
In Virginia, Representative Tony Wilt proposed a similar bill. He suggests allowing motorcyclists to lane split on roads of more than one lane in the same direction but traffic speed would have to be under 10 mph and motorcycles would be limited to a maximum speed of 20 mph.
There’s an ongoing debate about whether lane splitting truly is safer or not. Not being sandwiched between two cars in traffic sounds like the best scenario but let’s be real: if a driver is too distracted to stop in time to avoid rear-ending you, chances are they’re also potentially too distracted to spot you in their side-view mirror.
At least if someone cuts you off while you are lane splitting, if you are being smart about it, you should be able to react in time. If a car is coming in hot behind you, with another vehicle in front of you, you don’t have as much leeway so ultimately, lane splitting might give you a little more control over your own safety.
Thankfully, discussions to make the roads safer for motorcyclists are ongoing and every little bit counts!