Lawmakers consider 'lane splitting' for motorcyclists

by: Graham Johnson Updated:

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OLYMPIA, Wash. - A bill in the state Legislature would legalize what's known as "lane-splitting" under certain circumstances.

Only California allows it now.

The Washington State Senate Transportation Committee considered a bill on Tuesday to allow motorcyclists to lane-split, as long as they keep their speeds below 35 miles per hour and go no more than 10 mph above the flow of traffic.

Any vehicle driver who intentionally blocks a motorcycle from riding between lanes would be guilty of a traffic infraction.

Advocates say it would cut down on dangerous front- and rear-end crashes involving motorcycles.

"We think it's a terrible idea," Washington State Patrol spokesman Bob Calkins wrote to KIRO 7. "Washington drivers are not used to looking for motorcycles ?coming up between the lanes. We also have no way to enforce. How would we catch up to a violator?"

Several drivers in Seattle were also skeptical and raised concerns about safety.

One said it "seemed like a recipe for road rage."

University of California Berkeley researchers found if motorcyclists split lanes while going slightly faster than the speed of traffic, they're no more likely to get in an accident than at any other time.

But if they go faster than 10 miles per hour above the flow, it's a lot more dangerous.

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