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Arizona to Consider Legalizing Motorcycle Lane Splitting

Arizona has become the latest state to introduce legislation that  could make it legal for motorcycles to pass between slower cars in  traffic, a practice known as "lane splitting."4256195a2ff5db9e7e7.jpg

The Phoenix New Times reports that State Senator David Farnsworth has introduced S.B. 1007,  which would eliminate the wording that currently bans lane splitting.  It would also add provisions for guidelines regulating the practice.  Farnsworth says he's not "passionate" about the bill himself but  introduced it because one of his constituents asked him to.

"I honestly wonder whether it's safe," Farnsworth told the Phoenix New Times.  "But I also think, man, what a practical thing for the motorcycle  rider, because he's going to get there a lot faster than I will."  Farnsworth hopes the bill will encourage debate and discussion both for  and against the practice, including studies and statistic to demonstrate  or disprove its safety.

Most  of the world outside the U.S. and Canada permit lane splitting. Lane  splitting has been a long accepted "not illegal" practice in California  and was officially legalized last year. A few other states, such as Oregon, have introduced their own bills to legalize it, but so far none have passed into law.

The American Motorcyclist Association approaches the topic of lane splitting with caution,  but generally approves of it as long as it's done safely and  responsibly. Not only does it get motorcyclists where they're going  faster than the cars stuck in traffic, it's also much safer, eliminating  the possibility of getting hit from behind at high speed by an  inattentive driver who doesn't notice the traffic slowdown. 

But  the idea faces opposition from those who believe that it is too  dangerous for motorcycles to split between cars. Among those  organizations is the Arizona Governor's Office of Highway Safety, the  Arizona Department of Transportation, and the Department of Public  Safety. Reports and videos of motorcycles speeding through traffic  unsafely have no doubt given opponents ammunition to shoot down  legislation to legalize responsible lane splitting. Even the AMA  recognizes the hazards of lane splitting, specifically retraining  drivers that the practice is allowed and to look for bikes next to them  before changing lanes.

As a motorcyclist myself, I'm in favor of  legal lane splitting, but I also can't see it working in my native  Massachusetts. I think drivers here are too aggressive and inattentive  for bikes to split lanes safely. While Californians will often move over  to give motorcycles room to pass, Boston drivers would likely block  motorcycles intentionally, or at least by accident. Still, I'd like to  see lane splitting legalized so that I'd have the option to do it if I  feel it's safe. Making it legal only means you're allowed to do it, not  that it's required.

Photo:Chris Yarzab via Flicker | Sourse: thedrive

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