Everyone knows lane splitting is allowed in California, but few know its legality was never officially declared. Now, a new bill has been sent to the Government to formalize this practice and establish some rule
While the rest of the states forbid lane splitting (motorcycles progressing through slow traffic between lanes), motorcyclists and police officers in California have been maintaining a tacit understanding about lane splitting. The maneuver was generally accepted as long as it was done with decency and respect towards other road users.
However, the public reacted in a bad way when California Highway Patrol (CHP) came up with a set of guidelines regarding lane splitting, claiming it’s not of their competence to create new laws. But that might soon be history, as the state Legislature sent Gov. Jerry Brown a bill this week to allow motorcyclists lane split legally.
The new bill better defines what “lane splitting” actually means, being described as “driving a motorcycle that has two wheels in contact with the ground, between rows of stopped or moving vehicles in the same lane, including on both divided and undivided streets, roads, or highways.”
Regarding the public versus CHP issues before, the new bill also authorizes the Department of the California Highway Patrol to develop guidelines relating to lane splitting in a way that ensures safety for all road users.
The previously-composed guidelines were allowing riders to lane split as long as their speed was not exceeding more than 15 mph above the traffic speed. The maneuver was considered dangerous at speeds exceeding 50 mph and it was strongly suggested to take into consideration the weather conditions, type of road as well as traffic behavior.
In other words, the previously established guidelines will pretty much stand true, and the police will act accordingly. As long as you’re not popping wheelies or pin the throttle and demon-speed through rows of slow cages, it is OK to do it.