New law to allow Arizona motorcyclists to share lanes with stopped cars

Advocates say it'll help motorcycle riders avoid crashes.
Published: Mar. 24, 2022 at 7:05 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Motorcyclists will soon be able to get by traffic a little faster and possibly avoid more crashes. Gov. Doug Ducey signed SB 1273 on Thursday, which allows motorcycle riders to get along the side of and pass a car that is stopped in the same lane. The law says it will be legal as long as the speed limit for the street is 45 miles per hour or slower, and the motorcyclist doesn’t go faster than 15 miles per hour. The law will take effect 90 days after the Legislature ends this year’s session.

Advocates say the new law isn’t the same as lane splitting, which allows a motorcycle rider to go between rows of cars that are going at regular speeds. This law allows riders to go to the front of the line at a stoplight so they’re not sandwiched between two cars and can avoid being rear-ended, supporters said.

Chris Woodard has been riding motorcycles for more than 20 years and thinks the new lane filtering law can make a big difference.

“Most people don’t gauge the distance for the stopping distance in speed,” said Woodard. “By the time they do realize, unfortunately, the motorcycle is between them and the next vehicle, and that’s where accidents happen.”

Instructors at the Team Arizona Motorcycle Training Center in Gilbert teach riders how to ride responsibly, but it’s not always enough. Marketing Director Bill Seltzer said the new law will hopefully reduce the number of cars crashing into motorcycles.

“I think intent is to allow motorcyclists to get out ahead of traffic because we are stuck in pack of cars,” said Seltzer. “It’s easy for us to get lost because we are far less visible than other motorists around us.”

The bill, which was sponsored by Tyler Pace, a Republican from Mesa, passed the Senate 29-0 with someone not voting in February and passed the House 54-4 last week.