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February 26, 2017

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Motorcycle Lane Splitting California

by biker1

Motorcycle Lane Splitting California is legal!

Heading out of the bay .. I left at the wrong time…there were some breaks in traffic but not much..it started clearing up outside of Vacaville…. longest session yet!

Assembly Bill 51, signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown, for the first time legally defines lanesplitting, the practice of motorcyclists riding between lanes to move quickly through traffic. 

Personally, and most probably because I’ve been riding motorcycles for over 40 years, I try to avoid lane splitting whenever possible. naturally here in Southern California, when you’re riding in the air-cooled bike sometimes lane splitting is unavoidable to prevent damage to your engine.

But, with that said,  there’s been many times when I’ve been invited to ride from San Diego up to LA  and have declined just for the fact that I knew it would entail lane splitting in super-heavy LA traffic. I’ve seen my share of distracted drivers here on the California roads,  and really don’t want to increase my odds of injury by splitting lanes on the congested freeways.

Driving a car here in San Diego, on a number of occasions, I’ve been rear ended by an inattentive driver. Luckily, there were never any injuries and only some fender damage in each case. Now, keep in mind that if the same accidents occurred while I was on my motorcycle, the outcome would have been totally different.

Motorcycle Lane Splitting California

One time, on Highway 8 in San Diego, just past Hotel Circle, the traffic slowed down abruptly from about 60 miles an hour to a dead stop. There were number of young ladies in the vehicle right behind me, and for whatever reason, they were unable to stop in time and rear-ended me at about 15 or 20 miles an hour. My car needed a new bumper replacement and also a new muffler and tailpipe. Neither myself or my wife or any of the occupants in the car that hit us were injured. I thank my lucky stars that this identical situation did not occur while I was on my Texas Chopper.

As they say, I’ve been there and done that, and now at my age, I just don’t feel that I should pile on increased risk by lane splitting on the California freeways.  I’m sure there are some who are reading this who are much younger and believe that I’m way too conservative in this opinion. I have no problem with people disagreeing with my opinions. We are all responsible for our own actions and the consequences of those actions. One thing that is perfectly clear and not in dispute, is that if you do lane splitting on your motorcycle  here in California your chances of injury substantially increase.

While the state of California does not keep track of accidents resulting from lane-splitting, the State did commission a study by the University of California Berkeley between June 2012 and August 2013 that included figures on accidents involving lane-splitting.

The study found that of the 5,969 motorcycle accidents in California recorded by law enforcement during that period, 997 involved lane-splitting – or 17 percent!

motorcycle accident California - Motorcycle Lane Splitting California

Orange County motorcycle accident – motorcycle rider stopped at a red light and rear-ended by an inattentive driver. His bike kept the car from running him over.

I was into hang gliding  for over 20 years, and when I went back to motorcycling many of my friends remarked that it was a safer move. My view was that it was actually more dangerous riding a motorcycle here in San Diego than flying a hang glider. When you’re flying a hang glider you’re totally responsible for all your decisions. When you’re riding a motorcycle you can do everything correctly and still be injured or killed by an inattentive (or DUI) car driver.

Ride safe!

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  1. Mar 5 2017

    Regardless of your riding ability, splitting lanes is a luxury that should be used sparingly. Over the years I’ve had several near misses as drivers decide last second they want to change lanes and not look before doing so, or stopped at lights opening a car door to dump out a cup, or simply pointing to something out their car window while stopped at the exact moment you’re slowly riding by. Motorcycle accidents can be caused by the simplest of split-second actions and the result is your injury or worse. We’ve seen countless personal injury cases involving motorcyclist. Ride safe!

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