The legality of lane splitting has always been a controversial topic in the US. Should it be legal? Is it legal? Should riders split lanes even when the law permits it? The questions go on and on. But the truth is, if you are a motorcyclist or you go on a bicycle ride often, you will agree that splitting connotes danger. And accidents by lane splitting are one of those things the offenders always wish they could rollback; they never leave anyone the same afterward.
Lane splitting in plain terms
Lane splitting is oftentimes referred to as stripe-riding or white lining. It’s a practice where motorcyclists or bicycle riders move between lanes or rows of slow-moving vehicles in the same direction. From a vantage point, the riders can save more time and also bypass traffic congestion (or what’s the point of going on a two-wheel if you can’t go faster). However, if we consider safety, then we would agree that it’s a safer alternative for riders than having to stop behind stationary vehicles.
What Do the current Texas Laws say?
The Texas laws have never been in favor of lane splitting. It’s always been an absolute no for motorcycle riders no matter what the excuse may be. The hope for a change only came in December 2018 when the Texas state senator, Kirk Watson, proposed a bill that could favor lane splitting.
While everyone is waiting for Lawmakers to pass Bill SB-288, lane splitting is still pretty much considered illegal in the state. It’s expected that all vehicles (motorcycles inclusive) stay in a single lane of traffic on roads that are marked into planes. If there’s a need for vehicles to change lane, then they must do so only when it’s safe.
The proposed bill will allow motorcycles that are operating on a limited-access highway to split lanes if the rider operates the motorcycle:
- At a speed that does not exceed those of other vehicles by more than five miles per hour, and
- In traffic that is moving at a speed not greater than 20 miles per hour.
Without a doubt, motorcyclists will benefit a great deal if this bill is passed into law. However, one should not lose sight of safety. Accidents caused by lane splitting are never palatable and the law never goes easy on the motorcyclist whenever these accidents occur. Therefore, while we anticipate fast commute in the future, in the meantime, the $175 fine still stands on occasions of any lane-splitting violations.