• Mar 21, 2008
There is a nice discussion going on over at AutoblogGreen regarding the act of lane splitting, which is when a motorcycle rides the dotted line in-between lanes. Lane splitting is a common practice in much of Europe, but here in the States it's only legal in California. Golden State law dictates that a motorcycle is only allowed to split lanes when traffic is moving very slowly or stopped and "must be done in a safe and prudent manner." NBC San Diego ran a little news piece on lane splitting and found that some drivers in California weren't even aware that it was legal, and others dislike the practice.

According to the video, the practice of lane splitting was initially allowed for safety reasons, and while many doubt that the practice is safe, data suggests that lane splitting reduces rear-end collisions involving motorcycles. So, what do you think? Is lane splitting a good idea? If so, should it be made legal in all s
States?

[Source: AutoblogGreen, NBC San Diego]


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  • 90 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      Having a bike and lane splitting is a great. It is only safe if done properly, and if you can't ride safetly on your own motorcycle then you shouldn't be riding at all. if some punk wants to split a lane @ 110mph and splatter himself on the back of a truck that's his own fault, let him kill himself if he wants to.

      If you have ever ridden a motorcycle in traffic it all, it is all about defensive ridding all the time. no matter if you are splitting a lane or not. that's just something most driver's don't understand.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Andy @ Mar 21st 2008 12:52PM,
      i do not block traffic, infact i have many friends with bikes (not just gsxr wannabies), and i take every opportunity to move for them as well as try to give them safe passage.
      obvioulsy none of you are the imperfect motorcycle rider that the other 99% of the nation is. the fact that you went out to buy a harley (or corvette) to trample your midlife crisis does not give you the right to be an azz (generalization not andy).

      CONSTANTLY in california i find that motorcycles are weaving, blocking traffic and etc. instead of utilizing the rule, they take advantage of being able to get away with anythign they can. actually they tend to cause more congestion (in my experience), because they DO take slots in stop-and-go as wella s 4-way back-ups (stop signs) as those riders seem to feel that since they have only 2 wheels, they don't have to obey laws. this also pertains to illegal turns, and anything else they can 'scoot' around.
      is it unfair? sure, why should 1 method of transportation (minus public) have the right to follow rules that others are not allowed to.
      and don't pull that emissions efficiency crap on me either. you didn't buy your bike to save the planet... it still burns hydrocarbons.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I have not read all the comments above, but wanted to go down as one strongly in favor of lane sharing (or better yet "filtering") being legal. I have been riding for more than 20 years in the San Francisco Bay Area, most every day commuting in heavy traffic. I have also rode in traffic in Paris and Athens. At least twice on the Bay Bridge, this practice has saved my life from vehicles rear ending at high speed cars that would have been in front of me had I not been lane sharing. But best of all, is the time & congestion it saves. In Athens, they once tried to make the practice illegal; in protest, most riders than rode in line like the cars -- effectively shutting down city traffic flow; needless to say, the law never came into force. Those that are not experienced riders in the urban jungle may want the practice illegal because of being startled by passing bikers; but remember -- your surprise may just be indicative of your lack of attentiveness, not a result of a dangerous biker. Or, for those inexperienced riders against lane sharing: consider that just because you lack the skills to properly and safely lane share, it does not mean that others do so. As an every day urban rider, I stay alive by assuming that no one can see me, that I am invisible. As such, placing myself between two cars is actually one of the safest places to be, as the cars on each side of me will rarely change lanes into another car, no matter they see me or not. Much more likely that a car behind you won't stop in stop-n-go traffic for a non lane splitting biker; and hood ornament they become. This fact has been confirmed in the official "Hurt" report on motorcycle accidents, and thus the conclusion that properly done, lane splitting actually increases safety. Of course, there are no guarantees in riding (or life); but having lane splitting as part of a riders standard practices certainly gives them another way out from being crunched, sitting in the oily center, increased view of what is happening ahead, increased alertness, fun, and time saving to boot. Regarding those who wish to set arbitrary speed limits on lane splitting: as with all absolute speed limits, that is silly. Constantly changing conditions mean the necessity of different speeds -- to think that some little speed law can address all unforeseen circumstances is laughable. If anyone reading this still thinks that making lane splitting, sharing, filtering illegal would have a positive effect on overall traffic flow and safety, please pause to consider if you really have the knowledge and experiance to pass such judgment.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I live in CA, own a bike, and do this every day I'm on the bike. Most complaints from cagers can be boiled down to, "It's not FAIR!" To which of course the correct response is, "So buy a bike and join me." It's indisputably safer than sitting still with the rest of traffic, it keeps you from rear-ending and getting rear-ended, and it saves my time, my gas money, and everyone's air.

      I do wish the law were a little more codified. Right now the law is carefully written in such a way that it does not mention lane splitting, so it's only implicitly legal, leading to a sort of impasse as to how fast you can go, how much faster you can go than traffic, etc. Right now it's on your judgement and if your judgement doesn't match that of Officers John and Ponch, you are getting pulled over.
      • 6 Years Ago
      IT has to be legal, that way it will encourage more people to be riders. Ultimately helping with congestion. Motorcycles get to use the carpool lane in Cali too right? Yup just did some research. Bikes can use carpool unless otherwise stated by a sign.

      Go out there and ride! help my morning commute please haha
      • 6 Years Ago
      Silly .. of course not.

      The idea a motorcycle running into the back of a car tells me the motorcycle is not in control and the driver should not be out there anyway. Motorcycles stop faster and accelerate faster -- same rules apply as cars -- they are responsible for what is IN FRONT of them.

      Riding between lanes inherently puts them in a cars blind spot -- so collisions would certainly go up for two reason (and I saw a motorcycle doing this so I it seem logical).

      The motorcycle see that middle area as his/her "right" so they take way more risk and essentially tailgate or shorten the safety margin in distance. Also this driver was very aggressive and was using his horn endlessly every time one of the cars wandered or was changing lanes, or even stopping in a manner that was not centred (so the car in front of him was clearly turning, but he was honking cursing at eveyone to get out of "his" lane.

      Motorcycles are incredibly dangerous, and any experienced driver is going to be giving lots of room (and paying attention) to the traffic in front of him/her. To a mature driver there is no need for lane straddling which shifts the responsibility to the car driver to "watch out" to what is close behind them. As a car driver, I want the cycliist in my rear window, or totally in the next lane when they are following or passing.

      Finally, even if a panic stop happens -- just like a car that middle area is available as an escape route. Again, the idea seems taylored to inexperience motorcycle drivers wanting to keep driving too aggressively.

      Anyone who has been driving a motorcycle for a long time FOLLOWS traffic and is paranoid almost. Remember, even a slight bump is going to be extremely painful as there is zero protection on a motorcycle.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I think it should remain legal in CA, now as for elsewhere in the states, it really depends on traffic. That being said, I do believe most CA residents do not know it's legal to lane split, but at the same time, most bikers think it's ok to lane split ANYWHERE, ANYTIME. So you get plenty of idiots in LA lane splitting on the freeway doing 90mph. I've also seen vids of people opening doors to block bikers from lane splitting going 10~15mph legitimately. I get plenty of older folks giving me a mouthful (can't understand crap since I've got ear plugs in most of the time) when I pull up next to them at a traffic light. Either way, I think it should remain, but as with all traffic rules, we should obey it and it'll prolly work out for the better, and educate the rest that it is legal in CA so most "cagers" won't freak out!
      • 6 Years Ago
      Should be legal. Having lived and riden in CA for a while I lane split quite a bit. Having seen it done I always assumed that it was a daredevil act but once I started doing it I realized it was way safer than staying in my own lane. I'm talking slow speed lane splitting here, never 15 mph over other traffic. The reason it is safer is that other divers don't see motorcycles very well but they do see that vehicle you are occupying the lane with. In slow traffic drivers are frequently changing lanes and often see the space occupied by a motorcyclist as a gap for them move into. Also, when you are riding on the line you are much less likely to get rear ended which is common for any vehicle in stop and go congestion.
      • 6 Years Ago
      @ Frylock350

      How is it your responsibility to put another motorist in danger by specifically going out of your way to do so? Two wrongs don't make a right.
      • 6 Years Ago
      i dont see a problem with it as long as its not above 15 mph or so. in the summer on my way to work, a biker always splits traffic at 55+mph and that's kind of stupid. but stopped at a light or just crawing along and a bike comes up between me and another car, i dont see a problem with it.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I don't begrudge bikers who manage to find a quicker and cheaper way to commute. I know I wouldn't want to be sitting there behind someone tailpipe when it's 100 degrees out. I'm in favor of lane-splitting with certain conditions.
      1) Only when traffic is below 15 mph, and the bikers with a speed limit of 25.
      2) Only on the freeway, not just creeping to the front of the line at a red light.
      3) And, as someone else noted, only in between the far left and adjacent lane, so that we "four wheelers" will know where to expect you guys. I have no problem with that being used essentially as an extra carpool lane.
      • 6 Years Ago

      One vehicle per lane. Period.

      If you ride, would you like it if a small car pulled up next to you in your lane?
        • 6 Years Ago
        happens all the Thats why I stay in the left lane of my lane. Also its easier to split from there.:)
      • 6 Years Ago
      As a motorcyclist myself, I'm not for it. But what are the accident statistics in CA? If there really isn't any, then let them be.
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