As reported on our sister site, CityBike, the CHP released the lane splitting guidelines authorized by AB 51, now called “lane splitting safety tips,” just over two years after the bill passed.
The CHP’s press release, included in its entirety below, states:
Lane splitting is a privilege enjoyed by California motorcyclists. With this freedom comes a greater responsibility for motorcyclists and drivers to share the road and create a safer highway environment.
In 2016, Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. signed California Assembly Bill 51, which defined motorcycle lane splitting and authorized the California Highway Patrol (CHP) to develop educational safety tips. Through a deliberative process and in consultation with the California Department of Motor Vehicles, the California Department of Transportation, the Office of Traffic Safety, and several motorcycle safety organizations, the CHP has finalized lane splitting tips.
“Although lane splitting is legal in California, motorcyclists are encouraged to exercise extreme caution when traveling between lanes of stopped or slow-moving traffic,” said CHP Commissioner Warren Stanley. “Every rider has the ultimate responsibility for their own decision making and safety.”
As previously discussed here at great length, the reason this bill and the newly release guidelines are so important is that the CHP et al now (again) have the authority to educate riders and drivers in California using California motorcyclists’ money (from registration fees). The previous CHP lane splitting guidelines were beginning to have positive effects on both riders and drivers—you can read more about this in the OTS lane share surveys and Dr. Rice’s lane splitting research here.
The new tips are disappointingly vague, and missing a critical component for new riders: guidance on top speed while splitting, and speed delta (how much faster the rider is going than surrounding traffic).
The complete Lane Splitting Safety Tips PDF is available for viewing in our lane splitting resources section, but here are the important parts for riders, drivers, and all road users:
Lane Splitting Safety Tips for Motorcyclists
- Consider the total environment when you are lane splitting. (this includes the width of lanes, the size of surrounding vehicles, as well as current roadway, weather and lighting conditions).
- Danger increases at higher speed differentials.
- Danger increases as overall speed increases.
- It is typically safer to split between the far left lanes than between the other lanes of traffic.
- Avoid lane splitting next to large vehicles (big rigs, buses, motorhomes, etc.).
- Riding on the shoulder is illegal; it is not considered lane splitting.
- Be visible—Avoid remaining in the blind spots of other vehicles or lingering between vehicles.
- Help drivers see you by wearing brightly colored/reflective protective gear and using high beams during daylight.
Messages for Other Vehicle Drivers
- Lane splitting by motorcyclists is legal in California.
- Intentionally blocking or impeding a motorcyclist in a way that could cause harm to the rider is illegal.
- Opening a vehicle door to impede a motorcyclist is illegal.
- Drivers in the far left lane should move to the left of their lane to give motorcyclists ample room to pass.
Safety Tips for All Motorists
You can help keep yourself and all road users safe by:
- Checking mirrors and blind spots, especially before changing lanes or turning.
- Signaling your intentions before changing lanes or merging with traffic.
- Being alert and anticipating possible movements by other motorists.
- Never riding/driving while impaired by drugs, alcohol or fatigue.
- Being courteous and sharing the road.
CHP Lane Splitting Safety Tips Press Release
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Yes, the only way to commute. See my video below.