Motorcycle lane splitting deemed safe

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Unless I open my car door.


…until the gunfire starts.

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Safety is hardly the only issue though. Why is a motorcycle rider’s convenience presumed to be any more important than the driver of a car or truck? Lane splitting is only “safe” in so far as nobody’s drawing a connection to increased accident data, okay fine but that analysis completely leaves out what it does to the driving experience of other people. Does it cause them more stress? Does it make them more likely to bang into each other, which would not be reported as a “motorcycle” accident? Does it unfairly burden them with extra responsibilities while driving?

Their convenience is also our convenience - the more traffic that can filter out of the gridlock, the quicker the gridlock ends for everyone.
(We all suffer from some crab mentality, but doing the opposite of that instinct is what actually succeeds in getting everyone out of the crab bucket.)


California’s lane splitting law was created to allow air-cooled motorcycles to keep moving on hot roads. It both keeps the bikes from breaking down and making traffic worse, and lets them get out of motorists ways. Many motorcyclists claim lane splitting is safer than waiting in traffic where absent minded auto drivers frequently rear-end us.

I have been rear-ended sitting at a red light. I have never been hit lane splitting.


Why would you do that?


I had a coworker get in an accident in California because of lane splitting. He was on a sales trip, driving on a highway in his rental car and traffic was moving slow but not stopped. He went to switch lanes to get over for his exit and hit a motorcycle that was splitting lanes and traveling faster than the rest of traffic. Apparently lane splitting isn’t/wasn’t explicitly illegal in California at the time (this was about 5 years ago). I know he was cited by the police and was going to have to fight it, and was facing a possible lawsuit.

It’s absurd to say “my vehicle doesn’t function properly in the environment I’ve chosen to purchase and operate it in, so I should have special permission to drive differently in order to keep my vehicle healthy.” Should aircooled classic Volkswagens get to ride up the shoulder then?

What if I want to be more comfortable in gridlock, should I be allowed to open my door and similarly block the space between cars?


That’s something that’s been done in the UK for a few years now at peak times (on at least one motorway). Admittedly, not specifically for air cooled VWs. :smile:

As far as lane splitting goes, I think it’s legal in the UK. If not, it’s at least tolerated and expected (edit: Google seems to suggest unambiguously legal since 2006, by case law). Do they have significantly different accident rates due to this?

Roads are a circulation system not a bank queue. The more flow the better, stop thinking so pettily.


Lane splitting is risky, but so is motorcycle riding.

It’s up to the operator not to take unnecessary risks. Merging cars (as mentioned) aren’t going to be the loser.

I say this as someone who wants a motorcycle, but also knew a guy who had several titanium implants from a motorcycle accident.

Motorcycles are the cheapest way to have fun going fast. I’ll wait until I can afford a safer option. Or until going fast no longer appeals.


I’m not being petty, the road is absolutely a “circulation system” but an individual lane is absolutely a “queue.” That’s totally the function of a lane. You’re basically saying lanes are just for these drivers, but not for those special drivers. No, you are not an emergency vehicle. You shouldn’t have special perks any more than some corporation should be able to buy priority for a tractor trailer. It’s everybody’s road. Follow the rules.

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Being rear ended at a stoplight is right above some one not seeing me when turning left for my fears. Lane splitting I would love to be able to do in the roll and go of Seattle rush hour. What scares me about lane splitting as a car driver are the bikers like the ones that zipped past me between lanes at 100+mph when traffic was doing the speed limit or better where even with a shoulder check they can zip up on you too fast and as a cyclist they scare me as it gives already angry drivers rationalization to do things like intentionally cut off bikes.


We do follow the rules. Lane splitting is legal in California.


Maybe to enjoy the “whooshing” sound?

This is why it’s a rule in quite a few metropolitan areas, especially over most of Europe. It’s a benefit to you because 1) there is one less car in traffic in front of you 2) the motorbike uses less in-city parking, easing congestion and 3) it keeps us motorcyclists safer, resulting in more people adopting motorcycling, for an even greater net gain in lack of congestion. I see you feel like motorcyclists are getting one over on you, which is really a poor way to look at it.


This is being petty, it is cutting off your nose to spite your face. You and everyone else will get home quicker if you allow bikes to filter through, but you prefer that everyone waste their life in gridlock just so that no-one gets a perk that you don’t get. This is crab mentality, and it is ugly and wrong.


This clause, in the history of all mankind, has yet to be true.


Yeah, that’s stupid illegal. The guidelines that CA police once used is that lanesplitting becomes ok if the traffic is going slower than 35mph, and when doing so the bike should not be going more than 10mph faster than surrounding cars. Those guidelines were challenged by someone, so I don’t think they’re “official” any more, but when described like that, it seems safe and sensible to me.

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