Should lane splitting be illegal?
They do it in California
Much heated debate surrounds motorcycle splitting in California. In California, lane splitting isn’t explicitly permitted. The rules have always been murky; however, it may be outlawed soon. For many, it’s unnerving, annoying, and downright dangerous. Lane splitting is illegal in every state but the Golden State.
What is Lane Splitting?
Many riders use lane splitting as an accepted traffic practice. Simply stated, it is the act of riding a motorcycle between two cars in adjacent lanes. Riders most often split lanes in rush hour or other heavy traffic conditions. They can weave through traffic with ease, often at speeds much higher than would seem safe.
Last summer, the California High Patrol removed lane splitting definitions, rules, and regulations from their learning materials, which makes safety information unattainable and confusing to the public.
Who is Trying to Pass the Law?
AB 51 is a bill that would make lane splitting legal. Introduced by assembly member Bill Quirk last December, so far it has been tabled this past July. Quirk plans to pursue the matter further in 2016.
The bill, if passed, would specifically make lane splitting legal when traffic is moving 30 mph or less, and riders drive no more than 10 mph faster than the slow traffic. This is handy for riders stuck in rush hour jams.
While many favor the bill, many oppose it. Several motorcycle groups deem the bill “problematic” and “too restrictive” to riders, and do not believe lane splitting is dangerous. There have been two previous unsuccessful attempts in California trying regulate motorcycle lane splitting.
Would it be more dangerous or safer?
This is the big question that has stopped AB 51 from passing or being vetoed. In part, the law would be difficult to enforce, and the speeds of surrounding traffic would be hard to pin point. Riders who are ticketed for lane splitting could win their argument against the ticket in court.
Some argue that riders who use speed and maneuverability could keep them and other drivers safe while in high traffic situations. Bike riders can easily weave through traffic, unlike their vehicle counterparts.
There is no proven evidence that lane splitting is more dangerous than a rider on a motorcycle driving in a marked lane, except if driving more than 10 mph faster than traffic. Some argue that enforcement of the bill would reduce injuries related to motorcycle accidents and enforce public safety.
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Clint Lawrence, Founder of Motorcycle Shippers, is an avid motorcycle enthusiast, industry consultant and board member for a major logistics provider. [email protected]