Year-Long Study Seems To Conclude That Motorcycle Lane-Splitting Is Safe When Correctly Executed

ls1“Lane splitting” – when a motorcycle rides between two cars – is legal (or more precisely an accepted practice) in California and has always been a controversial issue opposing bikers and car drivers. The “California Office Of Traffic Safety” and the “Safe Transportation Research And Education Center of University Of California in Berkeley conducted a study whose conclusions paint a positive picture about the safety of lane-splitting, when done in certain conditions, not exceeding the speed of cars by more than 10 to 15%. Both bikers and drivers find the practice more and more acceptable. The entire 51-page study is available at California Lane Splitting. Below a report about the study from CBS News.

16 Responses to “Year-Long Study Seems To Conclude That Motorcycle Lane-Splitting Is Safe When Correctly Executed”

  1. 1 TJ Martin Oct 26th, 2014 at 9:02 am

    …. the key phrase here being ;

    ” When correctly executed ”

    Which more often than not … they are not … properly executed that is ! As a recent run in while in my car has proven so well 😉

  2. 2 BobS Oct 26th, 2014 at 10:48 am

    I think the real problem here in the states is 1, we are a line cranky country. We’re always against letting someone get in front of us, even if it ends up being beneficial for us. Secondly, the term lane splitting implies that while traffic is moving along at 60 mph it’s ok for a motorcyclist to split between two cars going 80, not true. If we called it “filtering” instead of lane splitting I think people would more easily understand the true concept and intent.

  3. 3 B. D. Howard Oct 26th, 2014 at 11:55 am

    Uh, one incident leads you to conclude that this is the case more often than not?

    In the video above, I noticed that the one case shown where there was a wreck involved a Harley bagger that smashed his left bag against the rear of the car he was trying to pass on the right. This was just a case of poor judgement or stupidity – the wider the bike, the more difficult it is to fit into tight places (duh).

    I have been lane splitting for decades, regardless of whether I was in California or not. The main reason that car drivers are against this was summed up one time as I passed a car, the driver yelled ‘You can’t do that, that’s cheating!’ He was just jealous that he was stuck in the traffic that I was working my way through.

    But I have no interest in going fast as I go between the cars and trucks, and yes, in California I have routinely found that, as I was splitting lanes, there was often someone on a crotchrocket that was on my tail trying to get me to get out of the way because they wanted to go faster than me. In such cases, of course, I found a safe place to let them get by me – I am rarely in such a hurry that I am willing to do something that I consider risky.

  4. 4 Guy Oct 26th, 2014 at 11:57 am

    Isnt this the whole point of Motorcycling? You can get through the traffic jams, if you want to sit in them, buy a car. We have been doing this in the UK for years and its safe as long as you have your wits about you. Fools don’t try it.

  5. 5 TJ Martin Oct 26th, 2014 at 4:27 pm

    BD – More like just the most recent one of many

  6. 6 domino Oct 26th, 2014 at 10:34 pm

    I lost a friend to a rear ender at a red light,,, I always split to the front of a red light for protection… Cagers hate it…
    Big advantage of a bike over a cage, lots of ways out of tight jams… stay awake… splitting should be legal everywhere.

    Domino Dave

  7. 7 Hillbilly Jim Oct 27th, 2014 at 6:30 am

    I only do it when I’m drunk.

  8. 8 Reyn Mansson Oct 27th, 2014 at 8:58 am

    I split lanes when I lived in California, for a couple of years almost everyday between Santa Clara and SF on the 101. Most of that was with a BMW with bags. Not the narrowest bike available. It is a great thing for commuters, for traffic jams like coming back from the races at Sear Point or anything on the 405.

    A few years back Texas almost make it possible there, the bill passed the first committee but it included a helmet requirement. You had to have a helmet to split lanes. That set off the no helmet MROs and they wouldn’t support, that lost the legislative backers and down it went. Now that the AMA supports the idea, I thinks it is time to push again and frankly I am more than willing to require helmets in order to do it. Fair trade as far as I am concerned.

    I’m moving back to Texas in a few weeks and I think I might make this a crusade.

    FYI: I still do it not matter where I am in stopped traffic

  9. 9 Zipper Oct 27th, 2014 at 11:15 am

    I recently passed one car on the right in stopped traffic to enter a gas station and the FL. state police followed me all fifty feet when the traffic began to move. The officer pulled up to me at the pump with lights and siren. The officer then began to read me the riot act until I got my full helmet off and he saw I was a geezer. I got off with a warning and lecture. He said it was $185 fine. No more lane splitting for me. I used to always lane split in stop and go traffic only. ..Z

  10. 10 B. D. Howard Oct 27th, 2014 at 5:15 pm

    Hey Zipper, most any ticket written in Florida carries a fine for at least that much. In Delaware (where I do most of my riding) the tickets aren’t much, but every ticket that is contested carries added fees such as court security, victims protection fund, etc. etc. I got a ticket about a year ago for having a sticker that was one day expired. I took it to court (I had some good excuse or other). The judge was understanding and reduced the fine to $10, but when I went to the window to pay it, I learned that, with the added fees, that ten dollar fine cost me over $100!

    That’s why they don’t write warnings anymore – the cops primary job no longer has anything to do with public safety. They are simply revenuers, filling the coffers for politicians outrageous spending while refusing to raise taxes lest they lose their jobs. the thinking is: screw those who get caught violating even the most innocuous traffic law in any way.

    And yes, the police are the ones on the front lines when it comes to real crimes, but ask any cop how much of their time is spent doing that versus writing ‘paying paper’, and what happens to them and their career prospects if they don’t meet the ‘understood quotas’.

  11. 11 Blackmax Oct 27th, 2014 at 6:11 pm

    The key words there are “properly executed”
    Just what exactly does that mean ???
    All I know is the “cagers” don’t like it & what happened to that H-D rider is only a mild example
    of what could happen if the “cager ” decides to pull over into you.
    Thanks Cali, but No thanks !!!!

  12. 12 Big Mike Oct 27th, 2014 at 6:21 pm

    Lane splitting is simple math really. It is safe until you are in an accident and then it is not safe. As Nicker would say………Over and out.

  13. 13 Dave S Oct 27th, 2014 at 10:12 pm

    I was traveling through California and with the traffic on the freeway lane splitting came in really handy. The only drawback I found out from a CHIP is, if you do clip someone or have an accident while lane splitting it is ALWAYS the lane splitters fault “NO MATTER WHAT”. I guess that’s the chance you take!

  14. 14 Ride On Oct 28th, 2014 at 8:26 am

    I sure do miss splitting lanes when I lived in California. Now living in Florida and it’s a thing of the past.. When traffic was at a dead stop, I wouldn’t split lanes faster that 30-35 MPH. When traffic got up to 30-35 MPH, I would get back in the traffic lanes.

    Ride On

  15. 15 skinny denny Oct 30th, 2014 at 5:07 pm

    Agree with Big Mike 100%. On a a dresser with wide FLH or Beach Bar handlebars, it’s suicide on the
    installment plan.

  16. 16 BCinSoCal Nov 19th, 2014 at 9:51 pm

    Here in So Cal what draws bad press is mostly the sport bike riders splitting lanes at 30 to 40 when traffic is doing 0 to 20

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