Lane Splitting … Legal By Opinion


The Contra Costa Times in California features a Q&A column titled Queen of the Road. Today, questioned by a reader, “the Queen” delved into figuring out what is legal when lane splitting in California.

“In California, lane splitting is legal as long as it’s done safely,” Sgt. Trent Cross of the California Highway Patrol answered. “If the lane splitting was done in an unsafe manner in an officer’s opinion, based on his or her training and experience, he or she could issue a citation.”

Hmmm, an officer’s “opinion” … that’s a word that often proves pesky to anyone attempting to defend against a citation.

According to the CHP Web site: “Lane splitting by motorcycles is permissible but must be done in a safe and prudent manner.”

Again, who is to say what is safe and prudent?

The Queen also queried the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. Ray Ochs, director of training for the MSF, says the organization supports the practice if it is legal and can be done safely

“Do it when you have an escape area where you can swerve right or left if you need to,” Ochs told the Queen. “In higher-speed traffic it’s not appropriate, and it should be done at the speed at which traffic is traveling.”

It’s no wonder other states haven’t legalized the act of lane splitting. The rules on the books in California aren’t exactly definitive.

Nevertheless, chances are that this guy’s maneuvers aren’t legal in most urban environments:

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2 Responses to “Lane Splitting … Legal By Opinion”

  1. ravenbladerider Says:

    I’m so glad I live in the UK where lane splitting is postively encouraged (we call it making progress) and I do it all the time to get past the traffic when out on my bike.. Raven

  2. Dennis J. Says:

    Yeah, here in California it’s OK too. Most drivers even pull over and give you space to pass. Though, every once in a while you run across a moron or three.

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