California Could Finally Put A Lane-Splitting Law On The Books

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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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Ok to the drivers who inevitably come over from Jalopnik just to hate on lane splitting:

-No we don’t think it is safe, it’s just safer than not lane splitting because most of the nasty crashed are when we get rear ended in a lane and that doesn’t happen when we split so it’s the lesser of 2 dangers.

-I’m sorry it scares you, but your feelings don’t trump our safety

-I’m sorry about the guy who once knocked off your mirror and rode away, that guy sucks, I hate that guy, fuck that guy, people shouldn’t treat you like that but he’s not all of us and if he’ll do something as illegal as a hit and run I don’t think making lane splitting illegal will stop him.

-We know you hate us but we don’t hate you. Many drivers suck and nearly kill us but you’re probably cool and a safe driver.

-If you think “it doesn’t benefit me as a driver so I don’t like it”. Actually it does, when we split lanes we’re out of your way and the line is shorter. You see the riders coming from behind you and get angry thinking they’re cutting ahead in line but you don’t see that all the riders in line ahead of you splitting lanes are making the line shorter and the ones coming from behind aren’t going to join and make the line longer.

-If you think “there’s no science that say’s it’s safer”... well while there is very little research on the subject what little research there is does support the assertion that it’s safer and reduces traffic.…

Anyway, enjoy your car, I like cars too, they’re great and next time you feel like running one of us down and killing us take a deep breath and remember that your front bumper is expensive to repaint.