One of the things that I noticed right away while living in California is that it is OK, legally at least, for motorcyclists to ride down the line, lane splitting as it’s most commonly known. At first it struck me as being a rather dangerous thing, but Californians seemed to be OK with it, and I never saw it lead to an accident.
Lane splitting is, however, NOT legal to do in a lot of other states. I shudder to think how your average Puget Sound driver would react to seeing this practice (myocardial infarction, I’d suspect). But that’s not stopping other states to follow California’s practice.
Arizona lawmakers would allow lane splitting during a “trial period” of one year under the proposed House Bill #2475. This trial run would encompass only Maricopa County, which contains Phoenix the surrounding metro area and all of its suburbs. Given the large number of motorcycles in Arizona (the place seems like an ideal place to be a bike rider: miles of straights, you can see forever and there’s very little rain), you’d think getting the bill passed would have been easily accomplished.
Turns out that wasn’t the case. Since being introduced by Republican Jerry Weiers Bill 2475 filtered through opposition and did pass house committees, but public opinion, seems, well, split.
According to local sources, there is a division of opinions surrounding the perceived safety of the matter. Sure, this perception doesn’t exactly jive with the practice as seen on the roads of Cali. And just as sure, it’s hard to say that what works in one state works in another (just think of what were to happen if you were to drop a bunch of Hawaiians into downtown Boston, for one example).
But still … not only does lane splitting seem to work out OK in California, but is also seems to work out in Europe and Asia in addition to the Golden State. In addition, if you allow riders to split lanes, it reduces fuel consumption, travel times and roadway congestion.
So, hopefully, the one year trial period for Bill 2475 will work out OK, and Arizona can catch up to what has been happening with their neighbors to the West.