Lane splitting, also commonly referred to as white lining or stripe riding, occurs when a motorcyclist, bicyclist, or the operator of another two-wheeled vehicle drives between lanes of slow-moving cars that are moving in the same direction. Lane filtering takes place when cyclists ride between lanes operating in the same direction as motor vehicles when traffic is stopped. In the state of California, both practices are referred to as “lane splitting.”
According to the California Highway Patrol (CHP), lane splitting is legal in California for motorcycles that have two wheels on the ground between moving or stopped vehicles in shared lanes on either divided or undivided roads, streets, or highways. Governor Jerry Brown’s AB 51 bill signed into law in 2016 did not change the practice of lane splitting, but gave the CHP the ability to develop new guidelines around it. Published in 2018, the Lane Splitting Safety Tips state:
- The total environment around one’s motorcycle must be evaluated. The size of lanes and other vehicles must be considered. Roadway, lighting, and weather conditions must be assessed.
- The risk of an accident increases as the speed at which vehicles are traveling at increases. The risk further increases when vehicles are not traveling at the same speed.
- It is safer to split lanes at the far-left lane than it is any other lane.
- Lane splitting should be avoided near large vehicles such as motorhomes, buses, and trucks.
- Riding on the shoulder of a vehicle is not lane splitting, but an illegal practice.
- It is advisable to not stay in the blind spots of another vehicle or to remain between vehicles for an extended amount of time.
- Motorcyclists need to help the drivers of motor vehicles be aware of their presence by making use of reflective and/or brightly colored protective equipment. The use of high beams during the day is also suggested.
Drivers of motor vehicles must also know how to keep themselves and motorcyclists safe. It is illegal for drivers to intentionally impede a cyclist by opening a vehicle door or preventing or stopping a motorcyclist from lane splitting. While in the far-left lane, drivers ought to keep to the left side of their lane in order to allow motorcyclists to pass.
Lane splitting can be practiced safely. In the event that it leads to an accident, please call 877-PAYAMLA for a free consultation.