Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on November 16th, 2010 at 2:31 pm
The state of Oregon is looking for public feedback on an idea that could impact people who use bicycles. This Friday, the Governor's Advisory Committee on Motorcycle Safety will meet in North Portland to discuss lane-splitting by motorcycles. Lane-sharing or lane-splitting would allow motorcycle operators to filter up through slower moving and/or stopped traffic by using unused roadway space. The practice is currently illegal in Oregon (as per ORS 814.240) and California is the only state in the U.S. where it has been legalized.
Motorcycles using the road in this manner could impact bicycling in several ways. Motorcycles coming around slower traffic would be another thing to watch for when trying to cross busy streets. There's also the question of what roadway spaces this might put motorcycles in. Would they be more likely to use bike-only lanes and bike boxes if lane-sharing was legal? How would having motorcycles — which accelerate faster than cars — at the front of the traffic queue impact bicycle movements at intersections with bike boxes?
At Friday's meeting (details below) the committee will discuss the possibility of conducting a statewide public opinion survey on the topic. ODOT says they want to hear from other road users about this issue and about whether not to conduct such a survey.
Back in June, ODOT's research division completed a literature review of motorcycle lane-splitting (PDF here). It's not yet clear (at least to me) where the impetus for this issue comes from. Even in California where it's legal, the DMV and police warn people that it carries many risks. In 2005, an effort to legalize motorcycle lane splitting failed in part because of opposition by state police officers.
If you are interested to weigh in about this topic, here are details on Friday's meeting:
Governor’s Advisory Committee on Motorcycle Safety
6:30 p.m. on Fri., Nov. 19
Kaiser Permanente Town Hall Ballroom (3704 N. Interstate Ave.)
If you can't make it, email your comments to Michele O'Leary, Motorcycle Program Manager in ODOT's Transportation Safety Division at Michele.a.Oleary@odot.state.or.us.