The California Highway Patrol has released the first written guidelines for motorcycle lane splitting.
by Anne DT
Lane splitting is the manoeuvre that allows riders to pass slower moving cars by riding between them or moving between lanes to the front of traffic stopped at a red light. California is the only state in the USA that currently allows lane splitting, which is also referred to as ”lane sharing”, “filtering” or ”white-lining.” Recently the CHP (California Highway Patrol), released guidelines for motorcycle lane splitting. Read the CHP guidelines for Motorcycle Lane Splitting here.
The guidelines, that do not reflect any changes in the policy, states that motorcyclists may ride between cars if there is enough space, but they must not go more than 10 mph faster than the cars they are passing. The rules also state that riders should not lane split at highway speeds, or in traffic going faster than 30 mph (48 km/h). Initially, this law was passed primarily because most motorcycles are air-cooled and don’t fair well when they are running but not moving without air to help cool the motors.
RideApart discusses the benefits of lane-splitting in the video below:
This video provides some excellent analysis on lane-splitting covering all the risks and benefits.
If you are lucky enough to live in California, Europe or Asia where lane splitting is legal, here are some tips from RideApart to stay safe:
1. Avoid riding on painted lines, especially on wet days as there is hardly any traction.
2. Cover your brakes all the time, so you are ready to react.
3. Stop within the drivers’ field of vision at traffic lights.
4. Watch drivers’ blind spots.
Hopefully, these guidelines will help make drivers aware that lane splitting is a legal practice in California where only 53% of drivers know that riders are not breaking the law when splitting the lane and 7% of drivers admit to having attempted to block a lane splitting motorcyclist from passing. What may surprise riders who have only ridden where lane splitting is illegal, is that rear end collisions of motorcycles by cars and trucks occurs at significantly lower rates where riders are legally allowed to lane split. As riding a motorcycle is more inherently dangerous than operating a car, and riding motorcycles also benefit society as a whole by reducing congestion on the roads, it seems only logical to make legal all statistically proven policies that both reduce accidents, and encourage more motorists to switch to motorcycles and scooters.
Done in a safe and predictable manner, without anyone getting hurt or any side mirrors taken out, lane splitting makes a lot of sense. It decreases congestion and keeps traffic moving faster for everybody during rush hour. Result: Everyone gets to where they need to go faster, however, the riders probably arrive faster and in a much better mood than any cager.
If traffic is moving, riders usually go with the flow and find there is no need to share the lane. However, when vehicles are stopped for an accident or in a bumper to bumper congestion at crawling speed lane splitting can be very beneficial.
Here at Farkle My Ride we hope that the debate that these guidelines have started will eventually allow riders in Canada and more states in the USA to make lane splitting legal. If you want to have lane splitting allowed in the state or province you live in, go to www.change.org and sign a petition for your particular area.