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Lane-splitting bill for motorcycles gets major tweak

Sen. Tim Sheldon changed his bill from allowing lane-splitting in just the far left lane, to all lanes of traffic. (MyNorthwest)

The senator who proposed a bill that would allow lane-splitting in the far left lane of a freeway heard enough complaints to make a big change.

Related: Should lawmakers OK lane-splitting for motorcycle riders?

Sen. Tim Sheldon altered his bill that, if passed, would allow lane-splitting by motorcycles in any lane. He calls it lane-sharing.

The bill would make it legal for motorcyclists stuck in congestion to drive between traffic lanes. Riders would only be able to go 10 miles an hour faster than traffic and no more than 35 mph.

Jason Wallace, an avid rider, and popular Seattle motorcycle mechanic said only allowing lane-splitting in the far left lane wouldn’t be very useful. Wallace said it wouldn’t allow motorcycles to get over to their exits.

The revision by Sheldon may have fixed that.

Sheldon’s bill has passed in the Senate and advances to the House, where similar bills have died before.

California is the only state which has passed a law allowing lane-splitting. In other states, it’s an accepted practice, though not officially legal.

Should this pass, Wallace says it will take a while for Washington drivers to get used to the idea. He says it would take drivers at least a year or two to get used to the idea of motorcyclists riding between traffic lanes.

This bill, if passed, would also make it illegal for drivers to slide over to prevent bikers from passing.

About the Author

Chris Sullivan

Chris Sullivan is a traffic reporter for KIRO Radio 97.3 FM. He cares deeply about the amount of time you spend sitting in Seattle traffic. Email Chris at csullivan@kiroradio.com

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