California Lane Splitting Legalized

California is now the first state to formally legalize lane splitting for motorcyclists.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill Friday to allow motorcyclists to move around stopped or slow moving traffic, under certain conditions.

Under the legislation authored by Assembly member Bill Quirk, (D – Hayward), California Highway Patrol will create guidelines on lane splitting, in collaboration with other agencies and organizations involved with road safety and motorcyclist behavior.

In 2014, the Los Angeles Times reported the state Department of Motor Vehicles and the California Highway Patrol removed their safety guidelines on the quasi-illegal practice after a Sacramento-based man filed a complaint on the practice.

Those guideline were crafted by CHP in 2013, after convening a committee of traffic safety stakeholders and motorcycle safety experts. Five recommendations for lane splitting contained in the previous safety guidelines:

  • Lane splitting should occur only when a motorcyclist is traveling at a speed no more than 10 mph faster than surrounding traffic.
  • Motorcyclists should refrain from lane splitting when the traffic is flowing at a speed of 30 mph or faster.
  • Lane splitting should occur between the first and second lanes over other lanes.
  • Total environment should be considered by the motorcyclist when lane splitting occurs, including the lane width, size of surrounding vehicles, weather and lighting.
  • Motorcyclists should be alert and anticipate possible movements of other road users.

Lane-splitting is legal in many European and Asian counties that, according to a Senate Transportation Committee analysis on Quirk’s bill, allow lane-splitting in more¬†urbanized areas.

Leave a Comment