Hawaii passes law to allow “shoulder surfing”

Lane splitting is a practice hotly debated by bikers, motorists, and lawmakers across the country. Advocates claim lane splitting helps protect riders in bumper-to-bumper traffic, while drivers often see it as a sneaky way for motorcyclists to skip the lines.

In recent years, several bills have been introduced in efforts to legalize lane splitting. California is the only state to explicitly allow riders to split lanes. A handful of others don’t specifically regulate or prohibit the practice, leaving it up to riders and law enforcement to hash out the details.

What is “shoulder surfing?”

In Hawaii, lawmakers are taking a different approach. A new state law will allow motorcyclists to “shoulder surf,” maneuvering past heavy traffic using the freeway shoulders. According to Hawaii’s House Bill 2589, riders of two-wheeled vehicles will be allowed to travel at 10 mph or less in the shoulder when other traffic is slowed to a stop. The bill was passed into law earlier this month, and will go into effect on January 1, 2019.

The Motorcycle Obsession’s Chris Cope raises valid concerns about shoulder surfing. This section of the road exists to give motorists of all types a place to pull over when they’re experiencing technical difficulties. Directing even a small, slow portion of traffic into the area could cause some issues. The shoulder also tends to be a landing place for all kinds of trash and debris, creating potentially dangerous obstacles for riders.

While there will undoubtedly be some kinks to work out as riding practices like shoulder surfing and lane splitting become more commonplace, the efforts to make the roads safer are something we can all get behind.

Do you think Hawaii’s move to legalize shoulder surfing is a step in the right direction, or does it create unnecessary risks for motorcyclists? Share your thoughts on the practice in the comments.

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