Motorcycle ‘lane-splitting’ back before legislature

zens of motorcycles showed up to the Texas State Capitol in support of several laws. (KXAN Photo/Todd Bailey)
Dozens of motorcycles showed up to the Texas State Capitol in support of several laws. (KXAN Photo/Todd Bailey)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — It’s commonly called “lane splitting” when motorcyclists drive between traffic lanes on highways during major congestion. Supporters of Senate Bill 288 say the legislation allowing lane splitting would help ease traffic congestion in the Austin area.

“We’re asking for common sense items that will make it safer for the community,” says Austin motorcyclist Steven Cochran, one of dozens of bikers who rallied at the Texas State Capitol Monday afternoon. “If we have lane filtering approved, and 20 percent of the vehicles are motorcycles, they’re not involved in any traffic congestion, they leave.”

According to the proposal, bikers couldn’t go faster than 20 miles per hour when passing vehicles. And they could only drive between cars on highways with exits.

However, since motorcyclists wouldn’t be in marked traffic lanes, some drivers say the move could cause more crashes. “I don’t think that would be a good idea at all, I think you would have more dead motorcyclists in this city,” explains Austin driver Joshua Brown. “I don’t want to be the reason why he has a head trauma because I decided to get over and stop traffic and didn’t see him coming down the middle.”

It’s an argument legislators will have to debate, as they take up the issue again this session. Sen. Kirk Watson filed the bill last month. The legislation will soon move to a senate committee. This is the third time similar bills have been brought before the Texas Legislature. Watson introduced the bill last session, but it did not receive a hearing. Similar legislation was brought up in 2009 by a different senator, but never made it to the House for a vote.

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