It may be legal in a few countries, but it should not be legal in the 50th state.
With great anticipation, Hawai‘i motorcyclists are currently pushing for a new proposal that would allow them to cut in-between vehicles while on the road and would incite more traffic safety.
However, it could also increase the risk of biking and vehicle accidents, which needs to be avoided within this traffic-congested state.
Precaution over disregard
When Bruce Paige, the director of Street Bikers United Hawaii, proposed the idea of “lane filtering,” or allowing motorcyclists the ability to ride in-between traffic lanes, he believed that it would protect the majority of Hawai‘i’s 40,000 motorcycle riders.
Aside from this privilege, lane filtering will also require riders to slow down and use their turn signals when moving into a new lane.
"Traffic must be stopped,” Paige said to Hawaii News Now. “Filtering only applies when you have two lanes of traffic traveling in the same direction.”
Drivers within vehicles would also not be allowed to stop motorcyclists from passing them. On a more positive note, Paige believes that permitting motorcycle riders this right would side-step the possibility of their bikes overheating.
In turn, these results would lead to less traffic congestion, which would make a great incentive for both motorcyclists and drivers not to pass up.
"Every motorcycle that's not sitting in front of a car allows the car to move that much farther forward," Paige said. If passed, the law would not apply to mopeds and motor scooters.
A dangerous outcome
Paige spoke on behalf for the safety and fairness of Hawai‘i’s motorcyclists but overlooked the danger he could be putting both them and drivers.
According to statistics, 157 deaths were resulted from motorcycle accidents in the state of Hawai‘i from 2008 to 2012, marking these incidents as the “5th leading cause of unintentional injuries.” This alone could also be a great an incentive for people to invest in vehicles rather than motorcycles.
The state Department of Transportation confirmed many of Hawai‘i’s roads are too narrow, which would make it difficult for motorcyclists to maneuver their way in-between both cars and lanes. There is also a great deal of concern about the proposal’s lack of safety instruction.
The Deputy Director of Highways, Ed Sniffen, is one of many who shared to Hawaii News Now his apprehensions about it.
"What does stopped vehicles mean? How long do people stop to allow filtering to occur?" he said. "Then when people start moving again, what happens? How do motorcyclists get back into different lanes.”
While the proposal may seem vague, it would be fair of motorcyclists to have decent privileges while on the roads, such as reconstructive shoulder lanes like Sniffen proposed.
"Maybe allowing re-purposing of the shoulder during that time,” he said. “So motorcyclists could use the shoulder during times of congestion.”
The DOT has stated that if lane filtering should be made legal, it would not be recognized as a state-wide law and only apply to suitable roads. In the end, the safety of the riders should always outweigh the convenience in easily maneuvering through traffic.