Lane-Splitting Gains More Speed In California

Lane-splitting, a practice called controversial by some and considered as sound motorcycle safety advice by others is gaining more legal acceptance in California.

According to the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA), the California state senate committee on transportation and housing unanimously approved a revised lane-splitting bill, called A.B. 51 on June 14. This 11-0 vote sends the proposal to the Appropriations Committee.

Lane splitting is riding a bicycle or motorcycle between roadway lanes of vehicles driving in the same direction. More narrowly, it refers to overtaking slow or stopped vehicles by traveling between lanes. It is also sometimes called lane sharing, whitelining, filtering, or stripe-riding.

The AMA are one of the motorcycle associations that considers lane-splitting a safety measure for bikers and support this bill and they are in good company. The University of California at Berkeley published a report in May 2015 that concludes that motorcyclists who split lanes in heavy traffic are significantly less likely to be struck from behind by other motorists, are less likely to suffer head or torso injuries, and are less likely to sustain fatal injuries in a crash.

The proposed legislation would formally legalize lane splitting, a practice which has been condoned by law enforcement for years because no law prohibits it there. Indeed, California is the only state where lane splitting is permitted. If A.B. 51 becomes law the state would become the first to codify the practice, representing a major victory for motorcycling advocates.

This revised bill defines lane splitting and authorizes the California Highway Patrol to develop educational guidelines for safely splitting lanes. In developing those guidelines, the CHP would work with the state Department of Motor Vehicles, the Department of Transportation, the Office of Traffic Safety and a motorcycle organization focused on motorcycle safety.

It could be said, where California goes, so does motorcycle safety. While the state’s weather and large population takes California to the top of the motorcycle fatalities chart, it has also enjoy this biggest drop in this metric as seen in the Clutch and Chrome report ‘Motorcycle Safety Study - The Good, Bad And The Ugly’. The West Coast state saw its motorcycle fatalities fell 38% from 2015 compared to 2016.

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