New Bills to Legalize Lane Splitting in Washington

A pair of companion bills, SB 5623 and HB 1515, have been introduced in Washington state that would legalize lane splitting. The digest for both bills is the same:

Allows an operator of a motorcycle to: (1) Overtake and
pass in the same lane occupied by the vehicle being overtaken;
and
(2) Operate the motorcycle between lanes of traffic or
between adjacent lines or rows of vehicles if the motorcycle
is traveling at a rate of speed no more than ten miles per hour
over the speed of traffic flow and not more than thirty-five
miles per hour.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because the bills essentially codify the now-deceased CHP lane splitting guidelines. Here’s the salient bits of the bill text:

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON:

Sec. 1. RCW 46.61.608 and 2013 c 139 s 1 are each amended to read as follows:
(1) All motorcycles are entitled to full use of a lane and no motor vehicle shall be driven in such a manner as to deprive any motorcycle of the full use of a lane. This subsection shall not apply to motorcycles operated two abreast in a single lane.
(2) The operator of a motorcycle ((shall not)) may overtake and pass in the same lane occupied by the vehicle being overtaken. ((However, this subsection shall not apply when the operator of a motorcycle overtakes and passes a pedestrian or bicyclist while maintaining a safe passing distance of at least three feet.))
(3) No person shall operate a motorcycle between lanes of traffic or between adjacent lines or rows of vehicles unless the operator of a motorcycle is traveling at a rate of speed no more than ten miles per hour over the speed of traffic flow and not more than thirty-five miles per hour. Any operator of a motor vehicle that intentionally impedes or attempts to prevent any operator of a motorcycle from  operating his or her motorcycle as permitted under this subsection is guilty of a traffic infraction.
(4) Motorcycles shall not be operated more than two abreast in a single lane.
(5) Subsection((s (2) and)) (3) of this section shall not apply to police officers in the performance of their official duties.

Both are bipartisan bills. HB 1515 is sponsored by Representatives MacEwen (R), Griffey (R), Blake (D), Condotta (R), Stanford (D), Moscoso (D), and Young (R). SB 5623 is sponsored by Senators Sheldon (D), Angel (R), Miloscia (R), Becker (R), Warnick (R), and Conway (D).

PDFs of both bills are available for download below.

 

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4 comments on “New Bills to Legalize Lane Splitting in Washington
  1. 1q23rd says:

    do you know this will pass? or how long it has to pass?

  2. Duke 690 says:

    Sorry for the late reply but this is where you can track its status,

    http://app.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?bill=5623&year=2015#history

  3. it’s unclear though, is it actually legal now? The RCW has not been re-written and the 90 days statement confuses things more.

    Sorry… not a lawyer. 😐

  4. EA Rider says:

    The RCW’s have not been officially amended so far, until they do the changes are not ratified.
    It is still not legal to lane split despite the fact that I see people in Wa doing it a lot, and in the most unsafe ways possible. The bad apples in the bunch make it very hard for the rest of those who are willing to abide by the laws to enjoy the freedoms of the road.

    Big thumbs up to the politicians who were willing to put their names behind this bill!

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