March 2011 Archives

Lane Splitting in Arizona: Is it Legal or Not?

There seems to be quite a bit of confusion regarding whether or not motorcycle riders can lane split in Arizona. For example, Bikers of America claims that since the start of the new year, Arizona motorcyclists can split lanes.   But then, a motorcycle lawyer in Colorado says that while the legislature wanted to allow lane splitting, Governor Brewer vetoed the legislation.

The truth is that Bikers of America is wrong; it is illegal for a motorcyclist to lane split in Arizona.  The Arizona legislature (Arizona Bill 2475) had considered passing essentially a test statute, which would have allowed lane splitting for one year. The idea was while intuitively, to non-motorcycle riders, splitting lanes might seem crazy and needlessly dangerous, it is actually safer than the alternative. One of the most dangerous things a motorcyclist can do is sit at an intersection.  That is because a motorcycle profile is much smaller than a car and what would be a simple fender bender for a car turns into a major accident and injury when the stationary vehicle is a motorcycle.  Lane splitting, according to many authorities, would actually reduce motorcycle injuries because riders would spend less time sitting at intersections and more time riding between lanes.  There is substantial evidence to prove that lane splitting will reduce accidents and injuries.  Oregon is now considering a lane splitting law as well, and of course, in California it has been legal for a long time.

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Unfortunately for Arizonans, that debate is still theoretical.  What separates reality from fantasy is fact, and despite the legislature's best intentions, we will not have facts, instead of mere supposition, to support or reject lane splitting.