California removes lane splitting guidelines

By From page A1 | July 25, 2014

SAN FRANCISCO — The California Highway Patrol has taken down safety guidelines for a sometimes criticized but legal driving maneuver in which motorcyclists pass stalled traffic by driving between lanes.

State officials were worried the guidelines for so-called lane splitting could be misconstrued as enforceable laws, the San Francisco Chronicle reported on Wednesday. The CHP took them down from its website about two weeks ago under orders from the state’s Office of Administrative Law.

The tips have also been removed from materials distributed by the CHP, the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Office of Traffic Safety, the Chronicle reported.

“People liked the guidelines and appreciated them,” CHP Officer Mike Harris, an agency spokesman, said. “But some people had thought they were given as rules or laws that can be enforced by the department.”

Lane splitting is legal in California, though car and truck drivers often complain it is dangerous. The guidelines – published on the CHP’s website last year – were hailed as a way of imposing some order on the practice.

They advised motorcyclists to ride between vehicles at speeds no more than 10 miles-per-hour faster than the vehicles they were passing. They also suggested that motorcyclists not attempt the move at full freeway speeds, or in any traffic going faster than 30 mph, and said it was typically safer to split between the lanes farthest to the left than between other lanes.

Nick Haris, with the American Motorcyclist Association, said he was disappointed to see the guidelines removed.

“A lot of people put a lot of time and effort into creating those guidelines,” Haris told the Chronicle. “It’s a pity to see it so quickly removed.”

Research suggests lane splitting could be less dangerous to motorcyclists than forcing them during traffic jams to stay in their lane, where even minor contact with a distracted driver could be disastrous, according to the American Motorcyclist Association.

But some drivers say motorcyclists should follow the same rules as everyone else.

Manu Khosla, of San Francisco, said he has seen motorcyclists scrape cars as they drive by.

“It’s not just about the cars, though,” Khosla, 33, told the Chronicle. “It seems like somebody could easily get hurt.”


Information from: San Francisco Chronicle, http://www.sfgate.com

The Associated Press

The Associated Press


Discussion | 6 comments

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  • GordonJuly 25, 2014 - 6:45 am

    OK, while i haven't been riding motorcycles for a number of years the question of lane splitting is older than i am. I've asked many law enforcement officers exactly what law make lane splitting legal? None could quote any vehicle code that states this is legal. We have books full of how cars and trucks must drive on our highways and some for MC's, but to date nothing i can find regarding lane splitting. Any one out there know what vehicle code / law states "lane splitting is legal?" Or is this just one of those "nothing saying you can't" so it's OK? Just asking, not complaining.

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  • CD BrooksJuly 25, 2014 - 8:04 am

    Gordon, this is called if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. OR as I like to call it lack of enforcement.The real problem is a law you and I knew that was designed to save the motor from over-heating has been taken advantage of and the bad guys keep winning. Motorcyclists aren't necessarily bad, they have just been handed a ruling that allows them to run roughshod on the highways. Since "unenforceable" has become the mantra for every traffic law in existence, I suggest removing every speed limit sign, every signal light and stop sign in the city.

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  • GordonJuly 25, 2014 - 10:26 pm

    as a long time rider i'd still like to see the law everyone quotes that "lane splitting is legal", which would mean there is a written CVC code that states how it can be done. Buy the way did i read some where you are a vette pilot? me to, am thinking of a early morning drive up to clear lake and back.

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  • CD BrooksJuly 26, 2014 - 5:47 am

    Gordon, yes after riding 40 accident free years we traded biking for cruising. My wife likes to say “we’re a Corvette family now!” I mentioned a ride we took last week.390 miles from here to Angel’s Camp back to Nevada into Tahoe and home. We had a beautiful drive averaged a little over 26mpg! Smooth, fast and fuel-efficient, gotta love it! Have a great drive, be safe. BTW, there is no law that states how many vehicles can occupy a lane. I never split lanes, made me uncomfortable. But I agree, there should be guidelines.

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  • MarkJuly 25, 2014 - 10:49 am

    the riders who split lanes slowly and responsibly don't bother me. The guy who was treating the slow cars on EB 80 yesterday as a high speed slalom course, I won't shed any tears when your poor life choice bites you in the rear.

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  • mikeJuly 25, 2014 - 9:37 pm

    Thanks CD all of the stop signs and traffic lights should be removed and replaced with roundabouts. Let's see a rice rocket maneuver thru that course. Bring back the pleasure of driving and cruising

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