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WA riders: help me get lane-sharing going for real!

Discussion in 'Motorcycle Talk' started by 7an, Jan 13, 2011.

  1. Hi all,

    I'm a rider in the Seattle area. I commute on my bike every day, every season. Traffic sucks from both a safety and efficiency standpoint -- you know the deal.

    Not all riders are for lane-sharing, but we should all have a choice in how we choose to position ourselves on the road for safety and efficiency, just like the helmet law or anything else. No rider would be forced to lane-share, but there are many of us who want to see prudent lane-sharing legalized in Washington state (and Oregon and other states, too, for that matter).

    Here are specific steps you should take in order to help out with this. You can't sit on the sidelines and hope that other people or organizations will take care of it for you. We can't expect the law to change this year or perhaps even anytime soon, but let's get started (again) and keep at it. I am already doing these things and implore you to do the same:

    1. Look up your state senator and representatives and send them an e-mail and/or call them:
    At the end of this post, I'm pasting in language I've created when contacting my representatives. Please feel free to use as-is or modify to your needs, or simply use as a guideline or as inspiration.

    2. Go to Olympia on Thursday, January 20 ("Black Thursday"). Be present, represent, show that us riders are out there and we care. Try to get appointments with your legislators (and/or their assistant legislators who are more important than you might think) on that day and talk to them about lane-sharing (and other important issues if you wish, such as the crappy recommendation from the Transportation Commission to toll motorcycles the same rate as cars on the 520 bridge). If you can't take the day off and go to Olympia on the 20th, do it another day during the legislative session this year and every year to follow.

    3. I got some great advice from one state senator (unfortunately not my own): VOLUME MATTERS. Use e-mail, phone lines, hot line messaging and in-person appointments. Get your friends and family behind it (whether they ride or not), and have them do the same. This may sound ridiculous but that's what it'll take. Posting wishful thinking on forums is not what's going to make the difference. This is.

    4. Join the Washington Road Riders Association. I am a member and am trying to lead the lane-sharing effort. WRRA just had a new president elected and he is in favor of lane-sharing and has been involved in past efforts to legalize it. You may want to join ABATE of Washington and the American Motorcyclist Association as well for good measure. The more cash these groups have to fight our fight, the better. But YOU need to get involved as lane-sharing is not at the top of the list for any of these organizations at this time. WE need to do it.

    5. Be persistent -- this may take several years, but I'm in it for the haul if you are. We have the opportunity to create thousands of miles of roads for free. The pavement and space are already there, unused!

    Finally, if you're on Facebook, it can't hurt to Like these two pages I've created so I can get a sense of what kind of support is out there:

    Legalize lane-sharing in Washington State

    Legalize lane-sharing throughout the United States

    Here is the language I have used when contacting my elected representatives; feel free to copy-and-paste/edit when contacting yours:

    Dear Representative [INSERT NAME],

    I understand you are seeking ideas for transportation solutions and congestion relief. I would like to have a conversation with you about a practically free solution that would help a portion of urban commuters (and in fact trickle down to benefit all commuters).

    Hundreds of miles of already available, perfectly good pavement go unused in the Seattle metro area. This pavement is between the lanes of car traffic and can be safely and efficiently utilized by two-wheeled motorists during periods of congestion, being narrow and nimble.

    This type of lane-sharing (freeway) and "filtering" (surface streets) by motorcyclists is permissible and a matter of course in the state of California and many developed, congested countries around the world. Motorcyclists in forward-looking cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco take advantage of the unused pavement to reduce their commute times (and also make the commute durations much more predictable and consistent). It also reduces everyone else's commute times by not having motorcycles occupy car space, and gives non-riders a huge incentive to switch to two-wheeled transportation (which, of course, carries many advantages outside of lane-sharing, such as twice to three times the gas mileage, lower operating expenses, etc.)

    Many experts and riders also consider having a clear view of traffic from between the lanes to be safer than riding in stop-and-go "rubber-band" traffic, where the risk of motorcyclists being rear-ended is high, as evidenced by news out of Arizona last year.

    Several other states have tried or are currently trying to legalize lane-sharing. Most notably Oregon, where the matter is once again up for debate within the Oregon DOT. Washington has tried to pass a bill twice in the past but failed.

    The last time, despite evidence showing the safety of the practice, the Washington State Patrol "felt" it was unsafe and the bill failed. Apparently, a video of an unresponsible motorcyclist was shown, where the rider committed unsafe traffic violations. I have a lot of respect for law enforcement and I understand that the WSP has a lot of clout, but "feeling" that something is unsafe in the face of evidence to the contrary should not be a basis for failing a bill.

    As you know, several organizations have given Seattle the infamous award of having the worst traffic in the nation throughout the years. TomTom (the GPS manufacturer) is the most recent, saying that 43% of Seattle's surface streets have heavy delays. L.A.'s number is 38% and San Francisco's 35%.

    I believe we can be as smart as those two cities and the state of California. The pavement is already there; there are no construction expenses whatsoever. I do understand the current budget situation in Washington, which makes this proposal even more attractive. General driver population education could be done for free using the electronic displays that now hover over the entire freeway system in the metro area.

    I and my many fellow riders in Washington look forward to seeing "Motorcycles may legally share lanes with other vehicles" on those displays.

    Best regards,

    Member Washington Road Riders Association
    Member American Motorcyclist Association

    Here is a bunch of bullet points I put together that you can also use when communicating with people, as an alternative or augmentation to the above:

    Riding a motorcycle as opposed to driving...
    ...reduces fuel consumption and emissions due to motorcycles having much better mileage than cars and trucks
    ...reduces cost of ownership, maintenance and operation for the vehicle owner
    ...reduces space needed for parking, leading to less congestion and more parking spots in urban areas
    ...forces the operator to be more aware of traffic and the environment around him/her, including eliminating cell phone use, texting, eating, etc. which makes traffic safer for everyone
    ...reduces the cost and amount of materials involved in manufacturing the vehicle
    ...reduces wear and tear on road surfaces pleasurable, fun and energizing!

    In order for motorcycling to make sense for the most grueling traffic activity -- commuting -- riders should be able to take advantage of their motorcycles' unique characteristics and benefits. This is most effectively accomplished by permitting responsible lane-sharing and filtering.

    ...increases rider safety by reducing risks inherent in stop-and-go traffic (most notably, being rear-ended)
    ...lets riders benefit from the unique attributes (narrowness) of motorcycles, reducing their commute times and freeing up space for cars, reducing congestion for everyone
    ...encourages riders to wear safety gear (more gear can be worn without the rider overheating if less time is spent at a standstill)
    ...reduces rider fatigue and inattention
    ...reduces rider inhalation of exhaust fumes while stopped for no reason in traffic
    ...puts rider safety into their own hands as opposed to relying on distracted drivers to see the motorcycle coming to a stop
    ...even further reduces emissions by having less motorcycles stuck in traffic
    ...reduces the potential for overheating of some air-cooled motorcycles
    ...further encourages commuters to switch to two-wheeled transportation due to all the benefits listed above
    ...has been proven to work safely and effectively in California, large parts of Europe, Asia and South America

    There -- lots of work done for you already! Now, take a few minutes and send something off to your representatives and let's see if we can at least get some conversations going this year.

    Ride safe,

    Gotama likes this.
  2. sweet, spam thats not about pr0n or drugs

  3. Sorry if it looks like spam; I just spent a lot of time putting this together. Over the years, I've seen a lot of interest in lane-sharing here on PNW Riders, with many people wondering what they can do. Thought this might be helpful.
  4. Motorcycles are dangerous and immoral.
    Everyone knows that.

    Those privileges are reserved for bicyclists and we should be thankful to pay the taxes that allow it to be possible.
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2011
  5. over the long years with all two of your posts?
  6. lol.

    post count means nothing.
  7. naked, I don't post here but I've been lurking here and on the PNW Facebook page for a long time, yes. I'm passionate about legalizing lane-sharing and would like to get other people involved. Not sure how that's better done than posting here.
  8. regardless, good luck, you're at least doing more than most people who "talk" instead of "do" something about their issues. so yeah, good luck, you're going against the tide as far as the "illegalization" of lane sharing goes.
  9. Thanks, man. I know it's an uphill battle, and a huge one at that, but not having lane-sharing legal is such a waste. Oh well. If this helps anyone and you're interested, cool. If not, I'll still wave at ya on the road. :)
  10. Not sure why you guys are giving him crap for posting it here. All it takes is a copy/paste and to add the email address of your state reps.

    I did it! Good luck.
  11. Can you provide specific examples of studies showing the positive effects of lane splitting and filtering have on traffic? I'm not arguing the point. If you have come across such studies I'd like to see them and citing them will have much more effect than just saying it makes sense and therefore will help. We as motorcyclists are in the minority by a huge margin here even in the peak riding season and frankly the rest of the populace either sees us as a dangerous menace or just plain doesn't care one way or another about us, but damned if they'll stand for letting us squirt out of a traffic jam while they have to sit there.
  12. Motorcyclists are the minority in all states and it is legal in CA. It can be done.
  13. Thanks, Yamaha!

    courier, here's a link to a study the Oregon DOT did last summer:

    It's the most recent study available on lane-sharing in the US. Anti-climactically, they end by saying more study is needed, but with a slight bias pro-lane-sharing overall in my estimation.

    The NHTSA is doing a multi-year study on motorcycle accidents and we'll have to see what comes out of that. The old Hurt report is the only other comprehensive study available to my knowledge.

    So, not too many statistics available, just our own analysis of the situation as riders and the fact that lane-sharing works in so many countries, congested cities and California.
  14. Have you guys ridden in CA before? I felt more visible there than I ever have riding in Washington. Drivers there expect motorcycles to lane split and will actually move over to give a motorcyclist more room to lane-split... granted there are a helluva lot more bikes in Cali, but I think the awareness and general mentality towards motorcycles is more positive there than anywhere in OR or WA. Just my .02.
  15. Exactly... one reason it got passed in CA is due to the Police splitting lanes on their bikes and riders in the 70's fought and it became lane sharing in the late 70's.:mfclap:

    For those who think this is a bad idea try going down to SoCal on a high traffic day and sit there on your bike and try to just go say 15miles on one day and then on the next utilize the legal lane sharing with the same route at the same time of day.

    I do it here some times and I still think it's safer than sitting there say on 405 and getting slammed by some BMW cause they were having a conference call :rant

    and to the OP... Welcome and TY for this :clap
  16. That is the trouble. Before we can lobby for laws to change, we need to lobby for the proper palms to be greased to study what the benefits of that law could be. That takes money and more importantly membership in the good ol' boy network.
  17. 636, I completely agree. I've shared lanes in California and Europe with great success. WA drivers in general are less aware of riders, but we gotta start somewhere. A public awareness campaign in conjunction with the legalization of lane-sharing would do good for all riders whether they choose to lane-share or not. Let's give the riders options.
  18. Debi, thanks!

    courier, I'm gonna try anyway. :)
  19. 7an: I'm glad you're trying, someone has to... I'm emailing my representative tonight. I would disregard the blind cynicism that runs rampant on this site, even I have been infected with it at times :mrgreen: .........I think riders like you are needed to get positive "motorcyclist-friendly" legislature pushed onto the table.
  20. 636, thanks for your help in contacting your rep -- very cool! Thanks also for the words of encouragement. Not enough of them to go around in a cynical world.