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Could Motorcycle Only Lanes Save Lives And Fuel Damn Right They Could

Fuel costs are currently putting a four-dollar-a-gallon dent in American pocketbooks, and with those horrific prices, more and more motorists are looking for a cheaper alternative to their transportation needs.

Motorcycles fit the bill quite nicely, thank you very much, and it may well be time for the United States to follow the example of governments around the world and consider motorcycle-only lanes in the more traffic-congested areas of the country.

Why is this a good idea? Motorcycles, used throughout the developing world as the preferred method to deliver goods and run a wide variety of  errands, could prove to be the stopgap measure to bridge the time lag as alternative modes of public transportation take their inevitable hold. Our current glut of traffic, the lack of a systematic mass transport system and the rising costs of fuel might make the motorcycle the conveyance of choice but for one crucial problem – cars and motorcycles don’t mix well on the roads.

Perhaps we should look to the Philippines for answers to that dilemma.

Beginning in 2012, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority and Chairman Francis Tolentino began designating motorcycle lanes along the major highways of Metro Manila. Originally conceived to ease traffic congestion, the Philippine authorities have discovered an additional, if not entirely unforeseen, benefit to their efforts – the implementation of motorcycle lanes reduced accidents per day to a significant degree.

Lots of riders, particularly in the heavy traffic areas of California, are fond of lanesplitting to avoid the glacial pace of automobile traffic, and motorcycle only lanes would certainly encourage ridership for that reason alone and render that dangerous practice obsolete. Motorcycle lanes have already proved to be quite effective in greatly reducing accidents caused by drivers and motorcyclist alike. Consider also the fact that a motorcycle-only lane would require much less modification to existing roads than adding additional automobile-friendly traffic lanes, and the benefits become obvious.

Proponents of lane splitting cite the Hurt Report of 1981 and say that lane splitting improves motorcycle safety by reducing rear end crashes. Lane splitting supporters, and by extension proponents of motorcycle-only lanes –  say the US DOT FARS database shows that fatalities from rear end collisions into motorcycles are 30% lower in California than in Florida or Texas, states with similar riding seasons and populations, but states which don’t allow lane splitting. Even the National Highway Safety Traffic Agency says, based on the Hurt Report, that lane splitting “slightly reduces” rear-end accidents and merits further study due for the benefits to decreases in traffic congestion alone.

Less pollution. Less fuel consumption. Faster commutes. Fewer car vs. motorcycle accidents.

What’s not to like?


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