But lane splitting is already legal! Yeah, it is. I doubt many have said that more than me. But specifically legalizing splitting would let the CHP and other organizations educate riders and drivers again, (remember the lane sharing guidelines?) and would also likely remove the gray area we have around fault when a rider crashes while splitting. These are valuable goals, perhaps worth compromising for.
I’ve been working with a handful of dedicated folks on AB 51 since shortly after it was introduced. We’ve met with Assemblyman Quirk, the author of AB 51, several times. It was our idea for Quirk to meet with Dr. Tom Rice, the Berkeley / SafeTREC lane splitting study guy.
Early on, we told Quirk that we wanted to explicitly “legalize” splitting without limiting it, that we didn’t want to give up the flexibility we have now for a law. The first version of AB 51 was at odds with this goal, essentially codifying the CHP lane splitting guidelines. These were excellent guidelines, and they worked, according to the trends that were starting to show up in the OTS lane share surveys, but I—we—didn’t want to see these numbers (30 MPH traffic speed, 10 MPH delta) as absolute limits enshrined in law. We were very vocal about this from the beginning; we told Quirk that he should talk to Dr. Rice, and use Rice’s analysis to inform the limits in the bill.
Quirk and his staff repeated this mantra over and over: Quirk is a scientist, who values data, and that we could trust he would take the data into account and amend the bill accordingly.
When Quirk received an early summary of Dr. Rice’s most recent analysis (which should be public this week), the bill was amended to increase the delta to 15 MPH, but limit speed of the splitting rider to 50 MPH—essentially limiting splitting to cases when surrounding traffic is at speeds of 35 to 40 MPH or so:
Section 21658.1 is added to the Vehicle Code, to read:
21658.1. (a) A motorcycle, as defined in Section 400, that has two wheels in contact with the ground may be driven between rows of stopped or moving vehicles in the same lane, including both divided and undivided streets, roads, or highways, if both of the following conditions are present:
(1) The motorcycle is not driven at a speed of more than 50 miles per hour.
(2) The motorcycle is not driven more than 15 miles per hour faster than the speed of traffic moving in the same direction.
(b) This section does not authorize a motorcycle to be driven in contravention of other laws relating to the safe operation of a vehicle.
This is in contrast to Dr. Rice’s latest analysis, which he summarized as follows:
– There was no meaningful increase in injury incidence until traffic speed exceeded roughly 50 MPH
– Motorcycle speed differential is a stronger predictor of outcomes
– Speed differentials of up to 15 MPH were not associated with changes in injury occurrence
– Above that point, increases in speed differential were associated with increases in the likelihood of injury of each type
“Traffic speed” means the speed of surrounding traffic, and according to this, we can hypothetically split at up to 65 MPH—50 MPH traffic speed plus a delta of 15 MPH.
So even though Quirk doesn’t seem to be honoring Rice’s data as he promised he would, Quirk and his staff believe that their bill, amended as per the mockup, will be good to go as-is.
The group I’ve been working with is in opposition to the amended bill, and I was too. But I was uncomfortable with this position, and kept thinking and talking to riders, and Dr. Rice.
I think it comes down to this. If we oppose, and successfully kill AB 51, we abandon an opportunity to get a decent lane splitting law on the books.
There’s no way we’ll make any progress with a bill that says we can split at up to 65 MPH, assuming we could even get a legislator to write such a bill. Riders know that making an argument for splitting at that speed to non-riders is a dead end. So by demanding that, we’re essentially taking a hardline approach that means we’ll never get a bill that we’re happy with.
All the work I’ve done with LaneSplittingIsLegal.com over the last 2 ½ years has been about getting riders to abide by the CHP guidelines, be good ambassadors for the riding community, and split safely and smartly. I believe there’s tremendous value in having a law on the books—as noted above, it will let CHP, OTS and other organizations dedicate resources to educating both riders and drivers, and remove this frustrating “gray area.”
AB 51, if passed as amended, would codify lane splitting in a reasonable way, and open things up for the CHP, OTS, and other organizations to educate riders and drivers again, which would be a really good thing. I think it’s worth accepting the compromise to make that happen.
Here’s the amended bill:
Click to access AB-51-Lane-Splitting-Bill-Amended_5-22-15.pdf
Stay tuned here at LaneSplittingIsLegal.com for more information on AB 51 and California lane splitting news as the bill progresses.
If you’d like to support our mission here at LaneSplittingIsLegal, order some lane splitting stickers and put ‘em on every vehicle you own and maybe even some you don’t—but you didn’t hear that from us. Every sticker we sell funds the distribution of free stickers around the state, not to mention keeping this website live. Thanks for your support!
I have to admit my opposition for AB 51 is weakening as well… Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a flawed bill that is “authorizing” something that is already legal, is poorly worded (which will increase legal challenges and make enforcement difficult), and will ultimately force some motorcyclists to choose between safety and abiding by a flawed law, but…
Three things are starting change my perspective (and not necessarily for the right reasons):
1) As I read more and more flaming rhetoric from car drivers who think lane splitting is illegal and/or should be banned, in the back of my mind I realize there will be benefit actually codifying lane-splitting into law. It will now be clearly legal instead of just “not illegal.” Drivers can no longer complain that motorcyclists are doing something they see as illegal. Wrong reason, but there is benefit.
2) As California goes, so do many other states. Actually having a law in the books will give other states incentive to follow-suit. And I’d sure like to lane split when visiting other states.
And finally, 3) As much as I hate to admit it, making this a law increases responsibility and accountability for car drivers. As it stands today, I figure if I get hit by a car while lane splitting, I’m pretty much hosed. Insurance and law will likely go against me. But… if this law passes, the car driver is at least somewhat (if not entirely) liable as well. Is this a good reason? No. But it does reduce potential liability and risk (other than physical)…
I do know a number of riders who don’t lane split because they are afraid of the liability should they have a collision. This may ease their concerns and encourage them to give it a shot as well. We’ll see…
I live in Brasil, where we can split lanes and have to respect only the street or road limit. The delta speed is up to the riders.
I myself use about 20 MPH as my safety level and recommend all riders I know to
reduce accident risks from car drivers changing lanes without signing.
I agree it is better to have this bill approved and wait a while for drivers assimilate it.
After a year time, fight for an amendment.
Here, as in UK, we also have a designated space for motorcycles ahead of cars in the traffic light in the main avenues.
There is a difference though in insurance.
The only compulsory insurance for cars and motorcycles is official and costs around U$10 to U$40 per year to cover injury liability.
Good luck guys!
All motorcycle riders that lane split are unsafe, period!
Uh . . . No…
““Traffic speed” means the speed of surrounding traffic, and according to this, we can hypothetically split at up to 65 MPH—50 MPH traffic speed plus a delta of 15 MPH.”
False. It means neither can be violated independently. A rider can not exceed 50 mph and may not go faster than 15 mph above the speed of traffic.
In 30 mph traffic, a rider can only go 45 mph
In 45 mph traffic, a rider can only go 50 mph
In 50 mph traffic, a rider can only go 50 mph
In 65 mph traffic, a rider can not split through traffic as it would violate (1)
Dan, the statement you quoted (“Traffic speed” means the speed of surrounding traffic, and according to this, we can hypothetically split at up to 65 MPH—50 MPH traffic speed plus a delta of 15 MPH.) is in reference to Dr. Rice’s analysis, noted in the bullets directly above it. This difference between Rice’s analysis and the bill language is the sticking point for many folks and the reason many still oppose AB 51.
You are referencing the bill language in your speed examples, not Dr. Rice’s data.
I don’t see why riders should split when traffic is flowing, in other words, why is splitting needed at 50 or even 65 mph? Just to get somewhere faster with much higher risk? In my mind, it only makes sense when traffic is crawling, so the old guidelines up to 35 mph and 10 mph delta had some merit. If traffic is almost at a standstill, the likelihood of a car moving over is much more reduced. There is a reason that most other western countries don’t allow splitting (but filtering at traffic lights at the most) and there is no reason to believe that they didn’t base that on comprehensive data. Was there an attempt made to obtain other data than just one California study?
Lucy, quite simply, it’s about safety, not just getting somewhere more quickly. It’s far more dangerous to his hang with the flow of traffic (and increased risk of being in someone’s blind spot) than to maintain a speed a few mph faster than the flow of traffic. Ideally, simply changing lanes periodically is sufficient, but sometimes splitting is called for. A motorcyclist never wants to maintain a static position in traffic.
Lucy you have not been to Italy, Spain or France. Therefore your statement that there is no splitting in other western countries, well sounds a bit uneducated. Actually California is the only right one otherwise all States that do not allow splitting are alone in the world.
As a commuter for 60+ years I have come to the following conclusions: A highway lane is constructed space wise to allow one automobile or truck vehicle within its boundaries at a time, due to obvious safety requirements. To have to move to the side of the lane to accommodate a speeding motorcycle, poses the safety issue of colliding with another car adjacent. In years past when motorcycles were in much less numbers, groups of motorcycles would travel, two abreast in a lane…..made sense to me as they are much smaller, more room in the lane and not a hazard to the bigger vehicles. Any legislation to allow motorcycles AND automobiles etc. to occupy a lane in my view would be UNENFORCEABLE, think about it. In an accident, how would one prove the excess speed, the darting in and out, the absence of turn signals and over the shoulder checking when motorcycles are moving through traffic?. Commuting in today’s traffic is very stressful knowing that motorcycles will be encountered, some with loud engines being gunned, arrogant attitudes being voiced if they are not allowed to pass at the rate of speed that they choose, and the fear that your car might be scraped by the sudden appearance of a motorcycles, before you cannot move over to accommodate them. Not to mention the accidents that these bikes cause by surprising unsuspecting motorists causing unsafe reactions with their cars. AND WHY SHOULD THERE BE LEGISLATION TO ALLOW ONE TYPE OF VEHICLE TO USE THE SAME LANE TO SPEED TO GET SOMEWHERE QUICKER? I’m hoping that there is some common sense out there that will rule in favor of the law abiding motorists, and not give in to these selfish Nuisances!
@richard S, lots of misunderstanding here… Nothing in the proposed law says you have to “move to the side of the lane to accommodate a speeding motorcycle.” Nothing in the bill allows for “darting in and out” of traffic, “excess speed,” etc. There is certainly no proposal to “ALLOW ONE TYPE OF VEHICLE TO USE THE SAME LANE TO SPEED TO GET SOMEWHERE QUICKER” (your caps, not mine). This is about “authorizing” motorcycles to use the otherwise unused portions of the highway to move between lanes of slower moving traffic. This is about safety and reducing congestion, not speeding or weaving or getting somewhere quicker. Think about it… the more motorcycles on the road (lane splitting), the less congestion ahead of you. From a motorcyclist’s perspective, when splitting they can see further down the road (safety), are more likely to be seen by other drivers (check where your mirrors are aimed), and are dramatically less likely to be rear-ended. Sure, we might get someplace quicker, but that’s not the point — it’s side benefit. As a motorcycle commuter of 40+ years I take exception to your term “selfish Nuisances.” I’m an accident free, responsible rider, just trying to get to work safely and on time. There’s nothing preventing you from getting a motorcycle and enjoying the same thing — but please, lane split safely and assume those cars around you can’t see you…
@ richard – As Brian has stated so well, your take on lane splitting is myopic and misguided. We are all hoping for some common sense from the Legislature on this, which would be to take a clear unbiased look at the real data, not just some motorist’s personal perceptions. You said: “Not to mention the accidents that these bikes cause by surprising unsuspecting motorists causing unsafe reactions with their cars.” In fact, the recent study proves that this is simply not the case. Lane splitting does not cause more accidents and in fact when done safely, prevents them. I understand your frustration with SOME motorcyclists who display an arrogant attitude or rev a loud engine. I’ve experienced these things myself and find it unnecessary and immature. However I would never judge everyone by the actions of a few and remove an important safety bill because of that.
A huge misconception here: Lane splitting in California is NOT LEGAL……BUT it is NOT ILLEGAL either. It is in the official capacity “Allowed”.
There is a loophole in the law that makes it possible. Before I get attacked or commented on I want to read the AB51 legistation bill to make it law.
Nope. Things that aren’t illegal are legal.
The complete bill is posted in the article above.
While lane splitting, I never check my speedometer. That takes a full second of attention off the road. Nor could I know the speed of cars around me to do head math. Legislating relative speed numbers is no good. This is not a good way to educate the public that lane splitting is reasonable practice, though motorists are in no way obligated to cede space to splitters. Many do, which is nice of them, but I when passing, which is what it is, it is my obligation to avoid causing an accident, not theirs. I can’t support the bill. I see no safety benefit.
I also don’t check my speedometer while splitting, just as I’m sure motorists don’t check theirs while passing a truck on the highway. That doesn’t invalidate the speed law. While it’s literally impossible to know precisely what the differential is between slow moving traffic and our speed, since we don’t read the speedometers of passing vehicles, this does give a good, safe guideline for motorists and riders alike. It’s also fairly easy to tell when someone is exceeding this differential by a noticeable amount (i.e.: passing at 55 when traffic is moving at 10 MPH.)
Motorists do in fact have to cede space for passing traffic. Obstructing traffic has been illegal in California for many decades. That doesn’t mean they have to move over for us, however it does mean they may not move to block us either. By codifying splitting, it makes this even more clear for motorists.
The safety benefit to this bill, as opposed to simply allowing the practice as is:
– It removes the grey area which some irresponsible riders are in, where their speed differential is extreme and dangerous.
– It raises awareness for motorists that the practice is completely legal.
– It enables public agencies and organizations like the DMV, CHP and MSF to write and teach safe guidelines.
– It sets a precedent for other states who are considering similar legislation.
– It gives officers an enforceable code to cite riders and motorists.
– Best of all, it removes officer discretion from the practice. As many of us have found out the hard way, officers that personally don’t approve of lane splitting can and will arbitrarily cite riders. This will prevent them from doing so and will put this in the hands of the courts, where it belongs.
Filtering is one thing, but lane splitting above the flow of traffic in California? In most cases I witness that means the motorcycle is speeding.
“A motorcycle’s narrow width can allow it to pass between lanes of stopped or slow-moving cars on roadways where the lanes are wide enough to offer an adequate gap. This option can provide an escape route for motorcyclists who would otherwise be trapped or struck from behind. There is evidence (Hurt, 1981) that traveling between lanes of stopped or slow-moving cars (i.e., lane splitting) on multiple-lane roads (such as interstate highways) slightly reduces crash frequency compared with staying within the lane and moving with other traffic.”
This is out of the Berkley study. It says that lane splitting “slightly reduces” crash frequency. At the same time this law appears to push the liability for incidents onto the car driver.
Doesn’t seem fair or sane. AB-51 is written as if the whole lane splitting argument is based on some idea that all or most motorcycle riders are responsible riders who are primarily concerned with getting rear ended in slow or stopped traffic.
Furthermore, who cares what happens in scooter-heavy Europe. I’d venture if Europe was flooded with wide glide bikes that can only lane split if they have access to both lanes. Plus Europe, South American and Asia have always had a much higher ration of bike and scooters. Do I have to also suggest that even trucks are smaller in Europe.
I’d venture someone will say, ‘but the roads are narrower there too”! Small cars, small motorcycles, lower limits on typical roads. It isn’t as if all of Europe is laced with Autobahns and Interstates. Even so, with the exception of the Autobahn, Europe’s two-wheeled history is based on commuting in dense urban environments, not the wide, expansive road system we have in the US.
So be honest, filtering to the front to avoid being rear ended is one thing. Passing a car in the same lane, regardless if it is one or two lane highway is dangerous behavior that puts more responsibility on a car driver. In fact car drivers will have to (and do) accommodate lane splitters when they run out of room. Happens all the time.
It is not passing to be safe, it is passing for the sake of passing.
Then we get back to who is responsible when a lane splitting motorcycle, regardless if all drivers were driving in a responsible way, but an unfortunate incident occurs. Who determines if the lane was wide enough or who was responsible sans video?
For example, last Sunday, coming down from Truckee on I-80 in pretty tight traffic. Three riders with passengers on wide HD style motorcycles push through between lanes as a group. Safe traffic speed was variable between 25mph and 50mph.
If there had not been traffic, they’d have made passes using available lanes, but traffic was stacked up. Were they lane changing for safety or just splitting because they could? I suggest the latter. This situation would seem to support lane splitting for a single motorcycle rider, but groups?
Filtering is easy to understand, splitting is not.
When AB-51 is re-introduced, maybe Bill Quirk will have the sense to exempt cars from being primarily responsible and let the rule of the road, that is, if you rear end or hit someone from behind, you are presumed the responsible party unless compelling evidence suggests otherwise. Furthermore how about stuffing even filtering of lanes by groups of motorcycles.
Bottom line, but the onus on the motorcycle rider, to prove conditions were safe enough to split.
Also, add a hefty fine for lane splitting if that delta speed takes them above the legal speed limit. Triple the normal speeding fine.
Finally, let insurers adjust motorcycle rider rates dramatically if any law is enacted AND the accident rate goes up. Write into law that insurance companies can shield themselves from lane splitting.
As it is any law increasing lane splitting is practically unenforceable.
A motorcycle is not speeding if it is not exceeding the posted speed limit. Since the law caps splitting at 50 MPH, this eliminates the splitting in order to speed argument.
What “seems fair or sane” may not have anything to do with what’s logical or safe. Fortunately, people’s perceptions or feelings about lane splitting have nothing to do with this law.
AB-51 doesn’t shift liability from one party to another. Although lane splitting isn’t codified yet in California, it is currently legal, by virtue of the fact that it’s not illegal. What is illegal is obstructing traffic, road rage, opening a car door in traffic, tailgating, etc… These are the problems motorcyclists currently contend with during their daily commute. Perhaps the strongest argument for the passage of AB-51 is driver awareness.
What happens in other European and Asian countries is important when gauging legislation because it helps to have other control groups to compare with in any study. Invariably, where lane splitting is allowed in other countries, there has not been any documented increase in the number of motorcycle accidents. Basically, that means it works.
Whether the lane is wide enough or not is up to the motorcyclist, who as with any driver must determine whether it’s safe to pass a vehicle or not. We make those decisions every day without thinking about it, regardless of what we drive.
Filtering (through stopped traffic) and splitting (through moving traffic) for this purpose means the same thing and both are actually easy to understand. It means not choosing to place yourself front-to-back between distracted drivers, which admittedly don’t look for or see motorcyclists. It gives the motorcyclist the ability to take back the fore-aft dimension of movement in order to give him more options and safely avoid a collision. The studies (both Hurt and Berkeley) are clear that the risk of a collision is reduced for riders that split vs. riders that don’t. The data bears this out…
Again, AB-51 doesn’t throw any additional responsibility on the backs of motorists.
The bottom line is it’s NOT the responsibility of the motorcyclist to prove that conditions were safe in the case of an accident. As in any accident, it must be examined on a case-by-case basis and responsibility determined based on the facts. One party isn’t automatically guilty until they prove themselves innocent.
As with any fine for anyone, whether it’s a motorist, cyclist, motorcyclist or pedestrian, these are set based on the seriousness of the infraction. If a motorcyclist passes in an unsafe manner, I imagine it would be no different than an unsafe passing fine for a motorist. The setting of fines is a whole different topic, and a contentious one at that, since most are excessive in California.
Insurance rates will go down. Why? Because the study shows that accident rates actually go down when a rider splits lanes. It’s safer. With motorists aware of the legislation and more motorcyclists practicing lane splitting, this will only result in fewer accidents and lower rates for everyone, including automobile drivers.
And to your last argument – lane splitting most certainly is enforceable, just as it is now. The passage of AB-51 doesn’t eliminate other passing laws which can and will be enforced, and in fact it will establish a new law which law enforcement can use to base an observation and citation on.
As a working safety professional, I find this law to be crazy. Reguardless of how you look at it “It’s Not Safe”. I have driven the 405 for a few years and the traffic can be moving just find at 55mph and here comes a motorcycle going alot faster they that, driver’s don’t have the time to react properly. Motorcycle rider think they have the right away, all the time, they also think the cars should move out of the way. Seen a few accidents with motorcycle which wouldn’t of happened if the motorcycle wasn’t trying to lane split in the first place. This law should be remove and lane splitting should stop.
As a working professional, I find your response to be crazy. I’ve been commuting on CA freeways for 25+ years and can’t help but notice that I’ve never been rear-ended but have managed to avoid other lane splitting “perils.” Sure, some motorcyclists assume others will move out of the way, or take risks they shouldn’t, but for those of us who lane split safely every day, shouldn’t we be allowed reasonable legal protections?
Like Brian, I’ve also safely commuted by motorcycle in SoCal for decades and have split traffic on various freeways, including the 405 without any accidents. I’m not sure who you’re quoting when you say “It’s Not Safe” but the studies conclude otherwise. What’s crazy as a motorcyclist is placing yourself in the middle of bumper to bumper traffic between two 4000 pound vehicles operated by distracted drivers who don’t look for motorcyclists and generally don’t see us. That is crazy. Like a game of roulette, it’s only a matter of time before you get sandwiched front to back in traffic. Splitting gives the fore-aft dimension back to the rider as a means of escape.
No part of this law states that motorcyclists automatically have the right of way, however it should also be stated that motorists also don’t automatically have the right of way. A shared lane is just that. One party courteously sharing a space with another. And for those who believe cars don’t split lanes, how many have taken advantage of a space in the same lane to squeeze by and make a right turn at a light. Is that codified? No. Is it legal? Yes.
The bottom line is lane splitting is safer than not splitting lanes, despite some emotional arguments. The facts bear this out…
Lane splitting is not legal, nor in a grey area, it’s now “allowable”! If AB 51 makes lane splitting a law, how will it be enforced? Only one vehicle can occupy a lane a one time, except when merging on or off the highway or when making a right turn at a signal or stop sign. The law that needs to be written is a moral one when motorcycle riders decide to lane split, which is “do I feel lucky today”?
You are correct, lane splitting is not a gray area – however it is completely legal. That which isn’t illegal is legal. It can be enforced the same as with any other traffic law. The moral thing to do is to ride safely. Studies show that it’s safer to split, therefore lane splitting is the moral thing to do. The “do I feel lucky today?” scenario comes into play when a rider puts himself between distracted drivers front to back in stop and go traffic. That’s the real danger…
Completely legal in your head doesn’t really mean anything according to the Motor Vehicle Code. Making up your own versions of motorcycle safety may increase your popularity and ego but nothing for the safety of your fellow riders. Best advice “you can give” to your lane-splitting public is to think about their loved ones and increase their life insurance, may God have mercy!
John, before you leave ignorant remarks like that, please do some research and understand the results of several studies regarding the safety of lane splitting. Bottom line (I’ll save you the research), lane splitting INCREASES the safety of motorcyclists! California has significantly lower rates of motorcyclists being rear-ended (compared to other states that don’t allow lane splitting) and numerous studies have shown that lane splitting does not increase risks. In fact, the greatest collision risks to motorcyclists remains automobiles turning left in front of them (obviously, not on the freeway), and on the freeway — motorists crossing the double yellow line into or out of the carpool lane and striking motorcyclists. Lane Splitting is NOT the problem. If you understood this, you would understand why so many motorcyclists, like myself, feel this issue is about safety, not shortened commute times or “getting ahead” of cars. I split because it dramatically increases my odds of getting somewhere safely.
AB 51 has been “thrown out ” as has been the safety guidelines posted by the CHP and the DMV. Now I think the California lawmakers should consider limiting motorcycle usage of the HOV lane; as not to allow splitting or passing in this lane, especially considering to the left is the shoulder and to the right is a double yellow line! Motorcyclists also ride the double yellow lane next to the HOV lane so I’d be very interested in what type of excuse they use for this unsafe practice? Wait, I already know their answer, “It’s because they can!”
John – AB51 was not “thrown out”. It was withdrawn by Quirk (D), who was one of the bill’s authors. He did so AFTER it had PASSED the State Assembly but before it came up for a vote in the Senate. He stated this was to work on some details in the bill and bring an improved version in 2016. Tabling bills in this manner is not uncommon when new legislation is being revised in process.
Your inaccurate hyperbole, combined with your position on motorcycles using the HOV lane makes it clear that your real agenda is you dislike motorcycles on the road in general. Rather than dancing around false assumptions, why not just admit it?
The only way motorcycles will ever stop lane splitting will be when the powers that be designate a special lane for motorcycles only! I ride a motorcycle daily and the thing I’m most afraid of is the unsafe behavior lane splitter’s have created on our roadways.
If that’s the thing you’re most afraid of, then you really need to rethink your threat assessment skills while riding.
Brian, you seriously need to rethink buying a car, your unsafe mind set is in danger on a motorcycle!
I welcome lane splitters since the practice has been proven to be safer than the alternative. What frightens me on SoCal freeways is millions of angry and distracted drivers.
John – Lane splitting in California is currently legal. If you don’t believe me, you can ask a CHP the next time you see one. Or check with the DMV, or any motorcycle shop in California if you want. Or you can contact the AMA or ABATE. If it was illegal, the CHP wouldn’t have posted legal guidelines on the practice last year. Just because something isn’t a written law doesn’t mean it’s illegal by default. I’ve been riding in California since 1971 and I’ve even worked as a motorcycle courier in Los Angeles, where lane splitting is a requirement of the job. Do a little research. I’m not lying…
Lane splitting in California has been deemed “allowable” by the CHP, downgraded from “legal’ almost a year ago! The word legal refers to “of or relating to law”, which lane splitting is not! If it is ever made a law with it’s multitude of restrictions, then this very unsafe manuever will be legal, and not before! Actually the lawmakers are now realizing that the proposed restrictions, i.e., mph while splitting, lane posturing (lanes 1 & 2 used) and traffic conditions would ultimately ban motorcycles from freeways.
Actually allowable is legal. To “downgrade” something which is legal, is to make it illegal. There aren’t varying degrees of legal. A practice is either allowed, and therefore legal or not allowed and therefore illegal. You may be referring to the statement here: https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/detail/about/lane_splitting . The term “The law does not allow or prohibit” simply means the specific act of lane splitting isn’t codified. That is it’s not specifically allowed in the CVC, but it’s not prohibited either, so motorcyclists can do it legally. Here’s a few references regarding the legality of lane splitting in California:
Motorcycle lane-splitting bill is withdrawn
Some current reading material for lane-splitting enthusiasts. Also, the CHP has taken all lane-splitting references off there website, guess they’ve decided to keep this double-edged sword in it’s sheath!
The Bottom Line about Lane Splitting
A concept (lane-splitting) without a precept (implementation/enforcement) are meaningless! Meaning simply that passing a law making lane splitting “legal” would change nothing on our roadways. Life would be so much easier if everyone rode a motorcycle, problem solved!
In California, lane-splitting is “considered” legal, though the practice is not taught or endorsed by the California Department of Motor Vehicles nor by most motorcycle training schools.
Confirming that the agency had eliminated the safety guidelines, CHP Officer John “Mike” Harris said, “They were taken down because people were looking at them as law. But they are not law. They were just driving tips.”
(The DMV “Motorcycle Handbook” once read, “Vehicles and motorcycles each need a full lane to operate safely. Lane sharing is not safe.” Last year it was amended to read, “Lane splitting should not be performed by inexperienced riders.” The handbook offers safety tips, echoing the CHP guideline, but does not state that the practice is legal.)
The CHP’s position — or lack of position — remains unchanged: “It’s not against the law, and it’s not authorized by law,” Harris said.
Most laws effecting drivers are lobbied for by insurance companies. They like to keep payouts low. ‘Be careful what you wish for…… Everything comes with a price. Whos at fault in an accident hardly matters when you were the one on a bike at high speeds. The fact that a “Fender bender” is a typical aspect of driving for us humans the consequence to the biker are increased with speed, since it takes seconds to be within 1-2 feet away from an unsuspecting driver when beside them going faster than them. They may not be held as accountable as you hope. They may instead be held accountable for “Normal response time or normal behaviours”. Its the biker whos taking a risk by riding a bike (having no protection) and hoping for the responsibility for their risky behaviour will fall onto the other driver.
I feel this should be “Lane Sharing” and not “Lane Splitting” as the perception and/or approach would be better (hopefully) from both sides. I very much like the 2nd bullet within the proposal (<15MPH) and hope they enforce this heavily, though unlikely since it will be physically difficult. Highly disappointed however that it doesn't also mandate "headlight(s) on" while lane sharing, which seems self-evident (and wise). Too many knuckleheads give us riders a bad rap when they try to inflict their will upon drivers, and yes I ride…
Lane splitting is not legal, it is allowed! There is no law that stipulates that riding between cars is legal, read the CVC and the motorcycle handbook my fellow motorcyclist, might learn something!
John—things that aren’t illegal / prohibited by existing law are by their very nature legal.