One June 14th, AB 51, which codifies the act of lane splitting and finally provides some legal guidelines, passed the California State Senate Transportation Committee with absolutely no opposition. Thanks to an 11-0 vote, AB 51 will now makes it way to the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Lane splitting advocates, LaneSplittingIsLegal.com, posted the entire video testimony regarding the bill. Of that, many arguments that shined a positive light on lane splitting were heard. But there are several key points that views and readers should be aware of.
First, this law cannot be used as a means to modify what we understand lane splitting to be. For example, Committee Vice Chair, Senator Anthony Cannella asked, “when the CHP is developing these guidelines, is there any possibility that they could just ban lane splitting?”
Bill Quirk, the California Democratic senator sponsoring the bill, replied, “No.” In order to clarify the purpose of the bill, Cannella added, “So we’re not establishing a speed limit or anything like that. They’re education guidelines. Can’t ban, or anything else.”
According to the language of AB 51, that would be the interpretation we see. And I do understand some of our readers apprehension about defining lane splitting legally. Many of the arguments against legally defining it are that of a domino argument – if we take one step in that direction, it will eventually lead to a loss of rights.
Speaking only for myself, I’m a fan of AB 51 being put into action. It helps codify the act of lane splitting, and, more importantly, allows agencies like the California Highway Patrol to define guidelines. And due to its wording, I’m not so sure that we’ll see this become the foothold for legislation for banning the act. Instead, I’ve taken a positivist opinion; hopefully this builds a precedence for other states to work on and bring lane splitting to many other states. The benefits are unmistakable, and the research regarding safety has been done.
The bottom line is: This law allows agencies like the CHP to once again create guidelines regarding the act of lane splitting, which they previously used to post on their website until a complaint was filed against them. This will allow it to once again become part of the fabric of driver training instead of something that is often misunderstood by non-motorcyclists.
I understand everyone’s hesitance but perhaps, let’s hope that senators like Bill Quirk keep it moving in the right direction. Of course, all of this needs your support. So if you’d like to reach out to your representatives, do so by making use of this nifty little Find Your Rep Tool.