Can it ride the momentum from previous legislative attempts?

The Oregon state senate is taking another crack at a lane splitting bill in 2021. It’s the fourth time that one of the state’s legislative bodies has brought such a bill to the table. Two previous Senate bills in 2015 and 2017 failed to advance, as did one House bill in 2019. The state of Oregon refers to it as “lane sharing,” but it’s a synonym for a behavior you already know and likely have opinions about. Will the fourth bill be the charm? 

SB574 is currently located in the Oregon state Senate’s Joint Committee on Transportation as of January 21, 2021. It’s co-sponsored by a bipartisan and bicameral group of legislators, including Senator Michael Dembrow, Senator Bill Hansell, Representative Bill Post, Senator Sara Gelser, and Representative Karin A. Power. As for what it contains, it’s pretty much identical to the 2019 House Bill 2314. Under SB574, lane sharing would only be allowed under certain conditions: 

  • Only allowed on roads with posted speed limits of 50 mph or higher (highways, basically) 
  • Traffic on the road must either be stopped or moving at 10 mph or less 
  • Only two-wheeled motorcycles and scooters would be able to lane share; trikes or sidecars would not be included 
  • Two-wheeled motorcycle and scooter riders could only travel up to 10 mph faster than traffic, must not impede normal, reasonable traffic flow, must safely merge with traffic if traffic speed exceeds 10mph, and must only pass traffic that is traveling in the same direction.  

What about pedestrian and bicyclist safety? There’s additional language in this bill that stipulates how riders may not lane share between a traffic lane, the curb, and a bicycle lane on either side of the road. Additionally, riders may not lane share between traffic lanes and rows of parked vehicles, in school zones, on the right side of the rightmost lane of traffic, or on the left side of the leftmost lane of traffic. Add to that the fact that pedestrians and bicyclists are seldom found on highways, and it seems that legislators definitely took their safety into account. 

If you’re an Oregon resident and you want to know more about the status of this bill, you can see the most recent information here. You can also read the full text of the bill in PDF form here.