[UPDATE, May 27, 2021: On May 26, 2021, Oregon governor Kate Brown officially vetoed SB 574, the bipartisan bill that would allow lane filtering in certain well-defined circumstances on Oregon highways.
“I have several concerns with the bill as currently drafted, particularly related to public safety and noncompliance,” Governor Brown wrote in a letter to Senate President Peter Courtney and House Speaker Tina Kotek, as reported by Oregon Public Broadcasting.
“Many stakeholders, including law enforcement agencies and members of the public remain concerned that lane filtering is unsafe for both the motorcyclists and the drivers sharing the road, due to the serious injuries and death that commonly result from motorcycle-involved accidents,” Brown’s letter continued.
“Based on these concerns, I am returning SB 574 unsigned and disapproved,” the letter concluded.
It is still possible for the Oregon state legislature as a whole to override the governor’s veto, but such an instance would require a two-thirds majority vote in each chamber. The original bill had that margin in the house, but didn’t quite clear that hurdle in the senate. However, it’s worth noting that six senators were absent for that vote, and only two more votes in favor would have been necessary to reach that threshold.]
Original piece follows.
In January, 2021, we told you that the Oregon state senate was working on the newest version of its motorcycle lane filtering bill. Various versions of this bill had been introduced in previous state legislative sessions, but never made it across the finish line. However, there’s been significant movement on the bill in 2021. The bill as currently written enjoys broad bipartisan support—and it’s moving fast.
How fast? As of May 17, 2021, we can now say that its support isn’t just bipartisan—it's bicameral, too. After the bill passed the Oregon state senate on May 5 with a vote of 18 to 6, it then moved to the House for consideration. On May 17, SB 574 officially passed a vote in the Oregon state House of Representatives as well, with 42 yes votes and 14 no votes.
SB 574, which would allow for limited and very specific motorcycle lane filtering in the state of Oregon, now moves to Governor Kate Brown’s desk for her signature. The bill’s status is currently listed as “Enrolled” at the time of writing. The official terminology used in the text of the bill is “lane filtering.” Here’s what the state of Oregon says will be allowed once the governor signs it into law.
SB574 states that lane filtering for motorcycles shall:
- Only be allowed on highways with posted speed limits of 50 mph or higher
- Only be allowed when traffic is either stopped or moving at less than 10 mph
- Only be allowed by two-wheeled motorcycles and scooters (no trikes or sidecars)
- Riders who are lane filtering may only travel up to 10 mph faster than surrounding traffic, must not impede the flow of traffic, must safely merge with traffic if and when traffic speeds exceed 10 mph, and must only pass traffic traveling in the same direction
Additionally, lane filtering shall not be legal for motorcyclists in designated school zones or work zones. Riders must also not engage in lane filtering behavior using the shoulders of highways.
Oregon state representative Ron Noble, who is himself a rider and who also carried the bill in the House, told Oregon Public Broadcasting,
“I’ve watched and seen a lot of bad motorcycle riders who are careless, who are reckless. Unfortunately, this law won’t change that behavior. What it will allow is for those of us who strive to obey the law, it gives us an opportunity to find refuge. It will provide me personally with another option to ride safe.”
You can read the full text of the bill as sent to the Governor’s desk here.