SB 5623 Heard in Washington Senate Transportation Committee

SB 5623, one of two companion bills that would legalize lane splitting in Washington, was heard in the Washington State Senate Transportation Committee today. The tone of the hearing was mostly positive, with the majority of those in attendance speaking in support of the bill. Proponents of the bill spoke about the safety, traffic and environmental benefits of lane splitting, with one speaker even referencing

Three people spoke in opposition of the bill. Shelly Baldwin, of Washington’s Traffic Safety Commission, played three videos from YouTube that she said showed “how we see it (lane splitting) in California and other places.” The videos are not visible on screen in the telecast, but I can only guess that these are typical YouTube idiocy: riders splitting too fast and crashing.

The YouTube videos were obviously intended to turn the Transportation Committee against lane splitting, however, they seemed to have the opposite effect, with one committee member, Senator Doug Ericksen, demanding to know if the activity shown in the videos would be legal under the proposed law. Baldwin refuses to answer, but Captain Rob Huss of the Washington State Patrol reluctantly admits that the examples would be illegal, but then immediately attempts to further leverage YouTube videos in his anti-splitting position, saying, “If you go to the YouTube and look at lane splitting, there’s hundreds of videos that demonstrate that type of behavior and action on the part of the motorcyclists.” Remember, Washington State Patrol has previously recommended calling 911 on lane splitters.

Both ignore the potential safety effects of allowing lane splitting, in spite of talking at length about their desire to keep motorcyclists safe.

Video of the hearing:

And here’s the Senate report on the bill:

Click to access SB-5623-Senate-Transportation-Committee-Report.pdf

Stay tuned here at for more information on Washington lane splitting legislation as these two bills progress.

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24 comments on “SB 5623 Heard in Washington Senate Transportation Committee
  1. Jeff Moore says:

    Whoa, awesome. I’m originally from Washington — anybody we can email or send in a letter in support of this?

  2. I was the guy in the yellow jacket in the video. I was very disappointed with the state police’s testimony, and very impressed with the senator’s questioning of them. The WSP used three videos: One was from Lady L’s channel of a Harley rider who misjudged his space. Of the three, this was the only video that actually showed the danger of splitting.
    The other two? One was of two bikers on obviously stolen bikes.
    The last one wasn’t even of a biker splitting! He failed to pay attention to traffic and was traveling too fast. During the collision, he ended up between two semis:

    A senator asked if illegal activity should inform us on passage of a bill. Another asked if any of the videos showed legal activity as would be passed by the bill.

  3. Budman says:

    The video’s seemed to be a rude jab at the bill. I second the hoorahhh for the Senator.
    That was great…! Overall the testimony was very good by the pro bill motorcycling public. Job well done folks! Hoping for the best outcome.. pass the bill!!!

  4. Alan says:

    The police cite hundreds of YouTube videos of idiots as being motorcyclists in general? How about We the People citing the hundreds of videos of police murdering people unjustly and fitting all police to that profile? Why is it the police whom are public servants are speaking out against the will of the people anyhow? These people need to be fired for their deliberate refusal to serve the will of the people as they swore to.

  5. Matt says:

    Just moved to Washington from California. I hope this comes true someday…miss lane splitting. And it’s safe if you’re not an idiot!

  6. Chris B says:

    I was against lane share as a biker myself, but then i had to take action when a road rage nut case tried to side swipe me at 60 mph. i tried slowing down and even stopped on the shoulder To avoid this guy, he stopped in front and put in reverse and rev his motor. I had no way of contacting 911 (on my bike). So I gunned it and took off as he gave chase i split the lane for about 3 car links and never saw him again, thank god. All over because i wanted into hov and he wouldnt let me cross. Called 911 with lic plate, no results.

  7. Chris B says:

    When do we find out if it passes. Xxxxx

  8. Chris says:



    Thanks for your email. I appreciate your comments regarding SB 5623. This bill was not scheduled for a hearing in the House Transportation committee. It won’t be coming to the House Floor for a vote this session. Thanks for your advocacy and I hope you will keep in touch–

    Hans Zeiger
    25th Legislative District

  9. Jason says:

    Washington is the worst state for driving or riding anywhere. I don’t see how lane splitting is worse than all the inattentive drivers navigating their cell phone more than they navigate the roadways.
    It is safer to pass the lemmings on their phones at low speed or while traffic is stopped than to sit behind them when they fail to signal properly, observe forward traffic, and generally drive slower than posted speeds because they aren’t looking at the road.

  10. john says:

    That sucks. Does that mean it dead at this point?

  11. Mike says:

    Would a petition of some sort help? I would be all for signing and rallying for others to sign. How would one go about doing this?

  12. Pavel says:

    As others have said is there anything we can do to help legalize lane splitting? and Is the bill dead then?

    • C says:

      Keep in mind that these are our Representatives and as much as you might think that they are not available to you, you have to step up and make the effort to contact them. They WANT to “represent” their constituents, so more than likely, if you make the effort to contact them, they will contact and fight hard for you. After all, you are paying for their salaries. It is just that simple.

      Okay, to answer many of your same questions, this Bill is by no means “dead”. I will try to give as much as I know and hopefully, others will see this and decide to DO something themselves until our accumulated efforts can see finally this into law.

      I made a call to Senator Sheldon’s office and left a message, to which he replied:

      “Hi CD, this is Tim Sheldon. say, the Senate Bill 5623. I know it’s it’s not perfect. It’s a long ways from perfect, but I had to get something out of the hou… out of the Senate .. ehh.. without the Bill dying. So, the Title is alive and if the motorcycle community and others can work on it over in the House… hopefully we’ll improve it, and bring it back over here to concur with that, but um i know it’s uh, doesn’t seem like much from what you started with the proposal (edit- the re-written language of only sharing in the furthest most left of the utmost left vehicle – basically, in the debris/shoulder), but I had to get… I had to change it a lot to get votes or would have died even in Committee. So uh, so let’s work.. work on it together. Hope we can do something that makes sense of this year.”

      Now, it was since struck down. But from what I have heard, it is still being worked on and has a slight pulse for the next session. Contact your Rep and/or also any of the supporting Senator’s. This growing population and grueling traffic has got to have some form of leeway other than Seattle City Council striping lanes for buses and ‘Good-To-Go’ options through the moon. It’s like putting a band-aide on a gaping wound.

      Riders are going to start, if they aren’t already, out of continued elevated frustrations, doing the same thing they did in California years ago and start splitting lanes without permission. Maybe an organized, collective group split down a busy I-5 would be a great attention-getter! hmm

      • Chris says:

        That’s a great idea!!! No better way to get the attention of others who don’t know about the bill.
        Oh, please, oh, please can I be apart of the convoy for bikers??!!

        • CD says:

          Believe me, it has to be done in a logical, safely organized and prudent manner. Word will get out to all points for multiple events.

  13. C says:

    In Additional Support –

    California’s Lane Splitting Legislation Withdrawn for 2015

    WA ST SB 5623 – 2015-16 Status track & current –

    Jan 26 First reading, referred to Transportation. (View Original Bill)
    Feb 3 Public hearing in the Senate Committee on Transportation at 3:30 PM. (Committee Materials)
    Feb 25 Executive action taken in the Senate Committee on Transportation at 1:30 PM. (Committee Materials)
    Feb 27 TRAN – Majority; 1st substitute bill be substituted, do pass. (View 1st Substitute) (Majority Report)
    Minority; do not pass. (Minority Report)
    Minority; without recommendation. (Minority Report)
    Passed to Rules Committee for second reading.
    Mar 3 Placed on second reading by Rules Committee.
    Mar 5 1st substitute bill substituted (TRAN 15). (View 1st Substitute)
    Floor amendment(s) adopted.
    Rules suspended. Placed on Third Reading.
    Third reading, passed; yeas, 35; nays, 14; absent, 0; excused, 0. (View Roll Calls) (View 1st Engrossed)
    Mar 9 First reading, referred to Transportation (Not Officially read and referred until adoption of Introduction report).
    Apr 24 By resolution, returned to Senate Rules Committee for third reading.
    Apr 29 By resolution, reintroduced and retained in present status.
    May 29 By resolution, reintroduced and retained in present status.
    Jun 28 By resolution, reintroduced and retained in present status.

  14. CD says:

    2015-2016 Regular Session (Engrossed)
    Title/Description – Modifying the operation of motorcycles on roadways laned for traffic.

    [SB5623 2015 Detail ]
    [SB5623 2015 Text ]
    [SB5623 2015 Comments]

    By resolution, reintroduced and retained in present status.

    I wasn’t too far off, was I?

  15. hacky says:

    Jan 11 By resolution, reintroduced and retained in present status.
    Feb 2 Placed on third reading by Rules Committee.
    Feb 5 Rules suspended.
    Returned to second reading for amendment.
    Floor amendment(s) adopted.
    Rules suspended. Placed on Third Reading.
    Third reading, passed; yeas, 34; nays, 15; absent, 0; excused, 0. (View Roll Calls) (View 2nd Engrossed)
    Feb 10 First reading, referred to Transportation (Not Officially read and referred until adoption of Introduction report).\\

    Rolling along…

  16. Christopher B. says:

    This story was released recently >>>

    I spoke to Sen. Tim Sheldon this last weekend –

    Q: At this point, what needs to be done for SB5623 2015-2016?

    “Last year, we had it moved out of the Senate.. so, it didn’t take any action in the House,

    So, this year, what it does in the second year of a ‘Two Year Session’, it goes back to the ‘Rules Committee’ in the Senate – We moved it out of the Rules Committee

    we had a little bit of a forum for it on the House to update it

    because it was a “Pilot Program”, changed dates and things, and it passed off of the floor with 34 votes, so out of 49, so it had 35, last year one person, went the other way.

    so it resides in the House of Transportation Committee.

    And, the House will finish with their own Bills
    And we will finish with our own Bills on Tuesday or Wednesday this week

    and then opposite house takes up the Bills.

    So, I am hoping to get a hearing in the House of Transportation Committee
    and I have to speak to Mercer Island WA. State Representative Judy Clibborn

    She hopefully has willingness to hear the Bill
    There are some pretty good allies over in The House for me that said they would work on it, and I have a note from the Motorcycle Dealers Association, fellow named Grant Nelson, lobby’s for them and he is going to work on it, too.

    There was a little confusion, but way it is now, the riders, in congestion, can go 10 mph faster than what the traffic is going, but no faster than 25 mph, and they can only pass vehicles in the far-most left lane, the fast lane, in a divided highway.

    between the shoulder and that left lane.

    Q: Is this saying that they can only pass on the shoulder then?
    A: Well, between the shoulder and that far-most left lane.

    There is a provision that riders can go onto the shoulder when buses can use the shoulder. And that’s up on I-405, we have a lot of problems there obviously.

    The DOT has something in statute called, “Hard Shoulder Driving”, which is that buses are allowed to go on shoulders and under this Bill the m/c’s can also use shoulders when transit buses do.

    So, you have two lanes, three lanes, four lanes, it doesn’t matter, as long as it is a divided highway, there’s a barrier there, in the middle, you can ride in the far-most lane, which I call the “fast lane”, you ride to the left of the vehicles,

    Q: How will this be presented to the Public when finalized, PSA’s etc?

    We have to get the opposite House to agree with us (House primarily Republican) and then to the Governor for a signature. So it has long steps. If they at least hear and change it somewhat, that’s fine.

    If we agree with the Senate, then it goes to the Governor.

    Q: Is there a chance that once and if the bill is passed and the probationary time, July 31 2018, has been fulfilled by the m/c community that there could be revision to the wording of the law to reconfigure where the lane-sharing could be done aside from being in the left-most lane position?

    I don’t know, I think we have to get it passed first. I think we have a big hurdle in the House. I think that the House chair, is probably not as supportive of Senator King, who is the Senate chair. That is going to be hard. but is we can get it by there we can just go a step at a time.

    There won’t be too much negative testimonies from this point forward. Although, there is always negative support when things are new, but from this point forward do not expect much.

    Q: What can the public do? What can be done?

    Contact Judy Clibborn.
    Express your interest in supporting and request for her to have a Hearing on SB5623 2015-2016
    By 26th of Feb SB5623 has to get out of House Committee.




    Email for all staff – First.Last(at)


  17. Christopher B. says:

    Update; As of & per

    Mar 10 2016 – By resolution, returned to Senate Rules Committee for third reading.


    Third Reading: Third reading is where the roll call vote on final passage is taken. If the bill finally passes, it continues in the process. If the bill fails on final passage, it goes no further. Under certain circumstances, the chamber may decide to reconsider the vote that was taken; in that case, the chamber has twenty-four hours to make a motion to reconsider the bill.

    If the bill passes third reading in the second house and the second house did not amend the bill, the bill has passed the Legislature.

    At the start of the session, both houses agree on “cut-off” dates by which bills have to be finally passed out of the first house and finally passed out of the second house.


    This is a truncated version of the procedure. Please read here for full WA State Legislative Process

  18. Eric says:

    Rider from BC Canada here, any updates? I really hope you guys get this thing passed, even in its bastardized state… It would bring me hope that the powers that be up here will come to see reason…


  19. CD says:


    Senate Bill 5378 passed in the Washington State Senate this February 28th, which is exciting progress for the tired clutch gripping, stop and go, left hands of the Pacific Northwest.

    The bill makes its next stop in the House Transportation Committee before moving forward to the floor of the House of Representatives. Should the bill pass all of the hurdles in its path it will allow for lane sharing at speeds of up to 25MPH and with a maximum differential speed of 10MPH.

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