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Top Tips For Planning Your Bucket List Ride

Tips For Riding in the Rain

Reducing Congestion with Lane Splitting

Guest Post By Audrey Nesbitt,

Is there something not to like about living in California?  Traffic!

Traffic in the large metropolitan parts of California like Los Angeles and San Francisco sucks no doubt about it.

Los Angeles ranked as the #1 most congested city in the U.S. with San Francisco coming in at #6 according to the INRIX National Traffic Scorecard 2010 Annual Report
Fortunately for California motorcycle riders – CA is the only State that allows what is known as ‘Lane Splitting’. This allows motorcyclists to ride legally in the space between two lines of vehicles during congested traffic conditions which in effect allows the creation of a new lane and allows motorcyclists to keep moving even when the rest of traffic is slow or stopped. The major benefit of lane splitting is reduced traffic congestion on California freeways; however, if motorcyclists or other drivers do not use safe driving practices, lane splitting can lead to an accident.
Many drivers will try to tell you lane splitting is unsafe, the “Hurt Report,” a well-known study on motorcycle accident causes, determined that lane splitting is actually safer for motorcyclists than remaining in bumper-to-bumper traffic. While no California law specifically allows lane splitting, the California Highway Patrol states that motorcycle lane splitting is allowed, but must be done in a “safe and prudent manner.”
An article featured in February 2009 issue of Motorcycle Cruiser, offers some great tips for safe lane splitting in California. 
  • Wait until both lanes are moving at similar speeds and enter the lane-splitting zone cautiously.
  • Set a maximum speed for lane splitting; once traffic gets back up to 30 mph, move back into a lane.
  • Try to anticipate when other drivers are going to change lanes. Watch for warning signs:  drivers who are glancing at their mirrors, turning their wheels toward your lane, etc.
  • If you get to a point where two vehicles seem too close together, wait for a chance to pass them safely.

**And stay within 10 mph of the traffic you are lane splitting with.**

The term ‘safe and prudent’ is up to interpretation by the police.  “If you are in a lane-splitting accident and the report goes against you talk to an experienced motorcycle attorney immediately.  A good motorcycle attorney can turn these reports around if you were, in fact, lane splitting cautiously.”  Russ Brown of Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys.

California is incredible with it’s annual motorcycle riding weather  – ride safe!


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7 Responses

  1. I live in Reno,which of course does not allow lane splitting, but I put more miles down in California than Nevada. I would like to see a movement to allow lane splitting nationwide.With the current regime being supposedly so green, allowing lane splitting would relive congestion thus minimizing air polution and not waste so much imported fuel idling when we could be moving.Unfortunately, many cage drivers do not like lane splitting. I do not think it has anything to do with safety, I believe it is that they are envious of our ability to move while they are stopped. Get a bike and enjoy the freedom!

  2. Consider that lane splitting is also an important option for riders of air-cooled bikes.

    I pretty much follow the suggested lane splitting criteria listed in your article. A lot of drivers are understanding and give some room. But on a hot day when tempers are frying along with the drivers and cars, I've actually had drivers deliberately squeeze the lane on me.

    Lane splitting; do it prudently, safely, and with a good dose of patience, too.

  3. Lane splitting becomes dangerous when bikers tend to abuse it like recklessly going in between vehicles at a high speed or playing catch with other riders. If this is avoided then lane splitting is relatively safe. 🙂

  4. There are pros and cons of lane splitting. It reduces traffic but at the same time that it is risky especially when everyone is in a hurry. I have read motorcycle accidents stemming from lane splitting but fortunately those are just minor ones.

  5. I agree that some drivers try to muscle out bikers while lane splitting – it pisses me off, especially when the motorcyclist is using caution. But I also see motorcyclists going more then 10 miles per hour more then the general flow of traffic while lane splitting and that makes it illegal.
    Always use caution!!!
    Russ Brown

  6. I really love top ride on a motorcycle but sometimes I really have a doubt if I will be safe on the way. We all know that accidents are everywhere even that you are driving in a safe way there is also a possibility that you will be a victim of crashes.

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