California is the only state in the U.S. that allows lane-splitting, not because there’s a law saying it’s legal, but because there’s no law saying it’s illegal. Now a few legislators are out to get some hard and fast rules on how motorcyclists can ride in the state.

Assemblyman Bill Quirk (D-Hayward) has coauthored a measure with ex-CHP officer Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale) and Kansen Chu (D-San Jose) that would finally make lane-splitting explicitly lawful in the state to give riders – and drivers – a legal leg to stand on.


Assembly Bill 51 adds a section to the CA vehicle code that includes text saying motorcyclists can split lanes as long as traffic isn’t moving faster than 50 MPH and that the rider isn’t traveling at more than 15 MPH above the speed of traffic.

The bill comes after two others have been proposed in Oregon and Washington, along with another in Texas, although none have passed into law yet.

AB 51 has already breezed passed the CA Assembly Transportation Committee and the Assembly Appropriations Committee, and is now on its way to the State Assembly.

Naturally, there are detractors from the usual suspects, but also the American Motorcyclists Association, which wants less restrictive rules.


“We don’t like this bill,” Nicolas Haris, the AMA’s western states representative told the LA Times. “It goes a long way in the right direction, but it falls short.”

Considering the CA law allows higher speeds and doesn’t regulate the practice into idiocy, maybe the AMA is just unhappy with the line in the bill that specifies that a motorcycle must have “2 wheels in contact with the ground”. Apparently a wheelie in traffic is just too restrictive for the AMA. Tools.


Photo: Kevin Costain/Flickr

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