Texas Lane Splitting

January 18, 2017

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Texas Lane Splitting

For the second year in a row, State Senator and former Austin Mayor Kirk Watson (photo above) has introduced a bill in the Texas Senate that would make lane splitting legal in the Lone Star State.

Watson, a Democrat, is a motorcycle enthusiast and a member of the Harley Owners Group who has been sympathetic to bikers concerns in the past. Last year he told Austin television station KTBC that he splits lanes himself  and that he thinks the practice “actually makes the roads safer for motorcyclists in stop and go traffic.”

He also gets air cooled engines. He told KTBC, “Most people don’t understand unless they’re acutely aware of the fact that motorcycles need to be moving in order to be cooled, at least mine does.  It’s not water-cooled.  So if I’m stuck in traffic and we do know that Austin has some particular problems with traffic, my motorcycle is getting hotter and hotter.”

SB 288

If Watson’s bill eventually becomes law, Texas would be the second state to legalize lane splitting. California has always tolerated lane splitting and formally legalized it last year. The practice is commonplace  in virtually every country except the United States.

This year’s bill is SB 288 and it would modify the existing transportation code to allow: “ The operator of a motorcycle operating on a limited-access or controlled-access highway” to “operate the motorcycle for a safe distance between lanes of traffic moving in the same direction during periods of traffic congestion if the operator operates the motorcycle at a speed not more than five miles per hour greater than the speed of the other traffic; and in traffic that is moving at a speed of 20 miles per hour or less.”

The bill has a long way to go. It probably does not help that the few newspapers in Texas to cover its filing have misidentified it as SB 228 rather than SB 288.

SB 288 has been filed and must be approved by a Senate committee before it can be approved by the whole Senate. Then it will have to be approved by the Texas House. The Texas legislature will be in session through May. Finally the new act would have to be signed into law by Governor Greg Abbott.

If all that happens, low speed lane splitting would become legal in Texas next September 1.

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7 Responses to “Texas Lane Splitting”

  1. East Coast Says:

    In NY the threat is the 80% of cagers texting while driving. I see them every day.
    Because of them it’s safer to split and not get run up your butt when they are distracted. I’d rather them hit the cage I roll around.
    I’ll continue to split no matter what paper they push. Survival is my self bestowed right.

    Respect to those who earn it and dirt naps to the rest.
    Revive the economy, trim all the fat.

    FTF FTP FTUO FTHA(HollywoodActors)

  2. Fr. Abraham Says:

    Most of us just run on the shoulder like TX_Biker mentioned. The sportbike kids occasionally do the “I’m gonna zip through these cars doing 90” thing, emulating the YooToob videos and whatnot, but I think it’s crazy. I could see doing it at 10mph when the highways turn to parking lots, but that’s about as far as I’m willing to go with it.

  3. Breezer KMSMC Says:

    Lane splitter here in SoCal. Don’t have to tell you of the benefits of lane splitting. I just find it ironic that in states like Texas and Arizona that lane splitting is “too dangerous” but riding without a brain bucket isn’t?! Waaat? (relax, I’m not saying helmet laws need to be added). Lane splitting in a distracted ass city like LA has its dangers because people ARE on their phones and not paying attention. That’s why you need loud pipes to let them know whats up haha. I’ve only had one or two problems with drivers (who now are missing side mirros..) here in SoCal when I split. They usually are pretty good about giving you that additional space to get by. The bad rep and thoughts people have about it are those fucking idiots on crotch rockets with a death wish who split at 258927 mph

    KMS MC

  4. TX_Biker Says:

    We do it anyway. Or use the emergency lane. I’ve never been stopped for it.

  5. R&R Says:

    Hope the Senate & House approve cause I’ve been lane splitting for a lotta years now in my part of Texas. This is another example of CoC&I lobbying for bikers rights and issues. It was on their radar pre Waco! Hope it passes but if it doesn’t I’ll still split – when I want to. And I refuse to guarantee my speed.


  6. russell1946 Says:

    Good idea on paper…

    We would have to pay even MORE attention to drivers who are fooling around with their smart phones in heavy traffic.

    Those clowns are the reason I prefer the backroads on my trips.

    Just my 2 cents.

  7. Sieg Says:

    Common-sense law…rhink it stands a chance?!

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