Each week work day I ride to work, as do many people. I live in East Vancouver WA, and work in NW Portland. Distance wise its about 20 miles however traffic makes it about a 35 minute ride in the morning and 45+ in the afternoons. I’ve ridden a fair amount in this great country and must say that Portland traffic, especially I5 North is some of the worst I have encountered outside of California. Lately I have noticed an interesting trend. It seems like more and more riders are spiting lanes to try and beat this sludge of traffic hell. This troubles me. I am a huge proponent of legal lane sharing. I think it should be legal and promoted in all 50 states. I have traveled in Europe and the Middle East. I have seen first had what successful lane sharing can look like. However, the fact remains that it’s not legal in either Oregon or Washington currently. My concerns with riders using the shoulders and lane splitting boil down to a few main points. A few definitions from my standpoint. Lane Sharing is defined as “the practice of operating a vehicle in a traffic lane in a manner that allows other traffic to use the unused portion of the lane, or to pass slower traffic in the lane by using an unused portion of the lane.” To me there are guides to lane sharing and that is one of the issues.
It is unsafe when drivers are not accustomed to such actions. This is each rider’s choice but as a former MSF instructor and motorcycle safety advocate I hate seeing riders taking unnecessary risks. When drivers don’t expect a bike to be next to them people can get hurt. Also they can get angry. Road rage is real and bikes cruising by
It casts a poor light on other riders. I was recently talking to some co-workers and the topic of traffic came up. Pretty shortly they were talking about how much they disliked motorcycles. I inquired why and they went on to talk about how they felt the riders thought they were “special” and “above the law”. I personally disliked being grouped into this category. I’m a responsible rider that chooses not to split lanes. However, in the eyes of the general public we are all “riders” and the actions of some could impact others.
I worry I that these actions dilute the work that is being done to make lane sharing legal in Oregon and Washington. It’s hard to get laws passed when people have a prior negative experience.
I know traffic sucks> I deal with it daily but I encourage riders to think before buzzing between cars.