Calling lane splitting a “slick maneuver,” The Sacramento Bee posted a story by Tony Bizjak on the new CHP lane splitting guidelines today. It’s actually a pretty balanced and in-depth piece – far better than most of the echo chamber coverage of the guidelines. Pretty active comment thread, too – and the story has only been up a few hours.
Two interesting points in this article
First, the state of California is working on a study of motorcycle safety and lane splitting in particular:
But state officials say they know of no comprehensive studies focused on lane-splitting dangers, and they do not have data on the number of lane-splitting-related crashes. Police say they do get reports of side rear-view mirrors being ripped off and occasional crashes, including fatalities.
Pope, of the CHP, and Chris Murphy, head of the state Office of Traffic Safety, said the state has engaged UC Berkeley researchers to study motorcycle crashes to reach better conclusions about motorcycling dangers in general, and lane-splitting in particular.
I’ve seen some data, so I know that it’s available – and it’s frustrating that the story pitches this as “Well, gosh, we don’t know if it’s safe, but we have heard of mirrors getting ripped off and people getting killed.” Hopefully the UC Berkeley study will go further towards clarifying the safeness and utility of lane splitting for both riders and drivers.
Second, the AMA continues to take a confusing public position on lane splitting:
Pete terHorst, spokesman for the American Motorcyclist Association, said the new California guidelines could be used by motorcycle advocates in other states to push legalizing lane-splitting elsewhere. But terHorst said advocates nationally typically focus on other motorcycling issues, including broader concerns about causes of crashes.
“We essentially endorse the California position, but we don’t promote it in other states,” terHorst said.
Given that the AMA essentially comes out against helmet laws on a regular basis, it’s frustrating that our membership support money doesn’t back lane sharing as a good thing – even though it’s commonplace and accepted in most of the world.