By on February 16, 2018

Image: Chris Yarzab/Flickr

This week I spent three days ripping a new Harley Road Glide around Greater Los Angeles. Don’t believe the people who tell you it never rains in Southern California. Man, it pours! I covered about 350 miles, 200 of which happened after dark and in annoying weather conditions.

The Road Glide is a big bike so for the first two days I didn’t do any lane-splitting (or “filtering” as the English say), preferring just to ride in the HOV lane and deal with any slowdowns that came my way. On the third day, however, I was in a situation where I needed to cover 26 miles in a big hurry to make my flight. So the proverbial gloves came off. I started slipping between cars, slaloming through the freeway lanes. Then I found myself on La Cienega with very little time left. It was time to start lane-splitting for real. At one point I had to zip up on a sidewalk right in front of a LA cop; he hit me with a “WOOOP” from his siren but didn’t pursue the issue beyond that.

The good news is I made my flight. The bad news is that I frightened myself a few times. Should I have done it?


Hillbilly tourists on Harleys aside, what’s your philosophy on lane splitting? Should it be permitted? Legal? Encouraged? Should there be limits? What should those limits be?

I’ll look forward to reading your answers before I return to LA for another week on a bike. There’s one thing I do know: I need something narrower than a Road Glide next time!

[Image: Chris Yarzab/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)]

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118 Comments on “QOTD: To Split or Not to Split?...”


  • avatar
    Mojo_Mike

    Given the USA’s lack of lane discipline, this seems like a bad idea.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      Yep! I never do it, not only because my state doesn’t allow it but I see this as dangerous. People on the phone, their cars go side to side, etc. I would do it in the standing traffic only. As for allow or not allow, I am against any restrictions on human beings

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      The current USA is a bad idea. Primarily because a bunch of clowns run around with all manners of opinions about what others should, and shouldn’t, consider bad ideas. And then gang up behind the baddest idea of all, to “do something” about it.

      If your bike fits through a space in tight traffic, slip trough it. Ditto for your bicycle or your boots (or bare feet.) No different from if your Miata fits down an alley, drive down it. Regardless of whether some self righteous imbecile can’t follow you in his Class 8 Peterbilt.

      Pretending bikes are “like cars,” just because some dunce without a brain may once have said it, makes no more sense than pretending bicycles are. Which the Critical Mass guys clogging up San Francisco by acting as if they were “cars,” demonstrated quite conclusively the silliness of.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        As previously mentioned, lane discipline is an issue but I feel the biggest issue is that of personal space. “we” in North America have a “large” personal space zone. Drivers tend to react negatively to any intrusion into what they perceive as their personal “road” space. Cultures accustomed to crowding tend to be much more tolerant of lane splitting. I’ve watched some amazing POV videos of riders in Japan.

        People also feel rather safe in their cars CUV’s and trucks. That sense of safety is magnified by the size of the vehicle they are piloting. I’ve been crowded multiple times while on a bike when I was safely and legally in my lane.
        My dad used to point out – “right of weigh” trumps “right of way”. “Having the “right” means nothing when you are dead.”

  • avatar
    Drew8MR

    Maybe not the sidewalk bit, but if you don’t lane split in L.A. you’ll probably die. Defensive driving on a bike just doesn’t work here. And the HOV lane is the worst, no one obeys the double yellow if there’s any kind of slowdown.

  • avatar
    IBx1

    I think it makes sense in dense traffic. Good rule of thumb is to stay within 10mph of the general flow. If you’re flying between cars then you’re gonna get what you deserve when someone switches lanes; you’re coming up too fast for them to perceive your speed even if they’re looking at you in their mirror. It feels more “fair” to the cars stuck in traffic if you’re walking the bike along and you’ll avoid confrontation.

    • 0 avatar
      ClutchCarGo

      This. Also, don’t rev your engine in ways that scares the car-bound motorists. This only adds to the ill will engendered by zipping past traffic.

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      IBx1, I’m glad to see that at least you’re suggesting moderation. If someone on a bike can get an advantage without screwing over others, I’m all for it.

      However, I think it’s unfair to the drivers of cars. Not because you get there first, but because of the responsibility you put on the driver of the car. Driving in rush hour traffic, on a multi-lane road, is already taxing for many drivers. Having tiny little vehicles magically appear in pretend lanes, raises the taxation to a level that’s often too high.

      If lanes are going to be split, the splitters need to do everything they can to make it easy on the cars.

  • avatar
    MBella

    I couldn’t believe how aggressive lane splitters were in California. I don’t think it’s a good idea. The room is very small, especially with big trucks and their large mirrors.

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      Especially because there are so many tourists and migrants in California. Even if the typical California resident stops changing lanes in traffic jams without checking their mirrors after the second or third lane-splitter they knock down, traffic is always made up of at least 25% people who live somewhere that lane-splitting is forbidden. They will feel completely blameless when they kill you, and the cops won’t even make them show convincing ID if they have brown hair and eyes. So Cal rush hours wouldn’t be the same without extended waits while lane-splitting accidents get cleaned up.

  • avatar
    ajla

    The duality of Baruth.

    “Already scared” and “100% over stories of canyon drives” on Thursday.

    Driving a Harley onto a sidewalk in front of a cop to make a flight on Friday.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      Yeah, for the first time he’s admitted to something that makes me consider him a complete jerk. Or a car driver.

    • 0 avatar
      01 Deville

      It is very simple. He trusts himself and not novices.
      On the topic. Never rode a bike, or drove in Cali, to comment on lane splitting, but I wouldn’t scare myself to catch a flight.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      Traffic that simply doesn’t move AT ALL, doesn’t pose much risk.

      Riding a heavy motorbike on a sidewalk, unless done with the outmost of caution, and only in the direst of circumstances, can easily qualify you for a-hole status, though. Assuming a wide enough side walk (or bike lane+sidewalk), it’s not really all that different from driving down it in an X5. Which people do in LA as well, come to think of it……

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Apparently, it’s not OK to scare HIM, but it’s fine to scare random pedestrians on the sidewalk.

      • 0 avatar
        Jack Baruth

        Empty sidewalk corner. Just cut it to make a right turn on red when the car ahead of me deliberately cranked to the right so I couldn’t go around him.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          If I had a nickel for every time a driver nearly ran me over because they thought a crosswalk was “empty” after a cursory look, I could have paid the change fee for your later flight.

        • 0 avatar
          Drew8MR

          Yeah, LA area folks love to cock block right turns for some reason. You watch them pull up to the light while sliding right to block even if there would be room for a semi if they stayed even a little left.

        • 0 avatar
          stuki

          Try going around him on the left. I do that all the time. One of the great benefits of a bike in LA, as the narrowness makes you harder to block. May not work as easily for the size class of bike you were riding as for a more city-sized bike.

        • 0 avatar
          JimC2

          I don’t blame you one bit! (And I don’t ride motorcycles, never have, FTR.)

          Here’s the funny thing- I’m not sure if I prefer that he deliberately blocked you or did it unintentionally. There’s a good chance it was the second case, maybe not this time but still… The ones who do things like this deliberately I can deal with- at least they’re paying attention to their surroundings!

      • 0 avatar
        Sub-600

        “If you don’t like the way I drive, then stay off the sidewalk”. – popular bumper sticker

    • 0 avatar
      Malforus

      Well as long as he doesn’t deny he is himself the person he wishes others wouldn’t be.

      But yeah, wow is that pigheaded and ignorant to ride the sidewalk.

  • avatar
    velvet fog

    Lived in Los Angeles for a few years. I split on the freeway only when traffic was stopped or moving very slow, and then only between the two left lanes slightly faster than traffic. Its the big speed differential that will get you.

    On surface streets, I’d only split at traffic lights to get to the front.

    For the most part, other drivers gave way and accepted it as “the way things get done in Cali”

    • 0 avatar
      cicero1

      “I’d only split at traffic lights to get to the front.” Wholly unacceptable and the law should be if you do that you don’t exist – ie cut me of like that you get run over.

      • 0 avatar
        Dirty Dingus McGee

        cicero1, you are one of the reasons that bikers hate idiot car drivers.
        Gonna try to run me down because I’m in front of you? Christ on a crutch, get a grip. I hope you DIAF.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          And lane splitters are one of the reasons why car drivers hate motorcycle riders. Granted, this guy’s taking it too far, but it takes two to tango, you know?

          • 0 avatar
            Charliej

            Why hate lane splitters? Bikes are smaller and can go where cars can’t go. At traffic lights bikes ought to go to the front and accelerate away from the cars. Staying away from the cars is the way to stay safe. Auto drivers seem to resent bikes because bikes are faster in traffic than cars. Hell, in New York city bicycles are faster than cars in traffic. Why resent us for being smarter than auto drivers about how we get around?

          • 0 avatar
            stuki

            @CharlieJ

            Because cripples, and other assorted incompetents, will be haters out of jealousy.

      • 0 avatar
        SkookumFord

        I just don’t understand why cagers get so pissed over this. The light turns green, that bike is gone. He’s not holding you up.

      • 0 avatar
        MrIcky

        Most of the lane splitters take right off in a way your car can’t, so unless you’re planning on hunting them down…

        I’m kind of meh on the subject. For the most part it doesn’t really interfere with me so I don’t care. However if I’m trying to change lanes, my attention is on the other lane so liability is completely on the MC if they try to sneak past my signals.

      • 0 avatar
        Add Lightness

        Obviously you have never driven in a European city. Motos rule the roads.

      • 0 avatar
        carve

        cicero1- you’re a d-bag driver then. He’s not cutting you off by filtering to the front. You’ll never catch him. In fact, by taking a bike instead of a car, he’s making your day easier by lessening traffic. You’re just exhibiting petty jealousy by him getting where he’s going faster. Well…guess what- you can to: get a motorcycle!

    • 0 avatar
      Blanchman

      Velvet Fog — well said. I live near LA as well, and I pretty much follow your philosophy to the letter. Only do it when I NEED too, which really isn’t that often. My problem is when I go to other states, and forget that only Calif allows this….

      He said: “ived in Los Angeles for a few years. I split on the freeway only when traffic was stopped or moving very slow, and then only between the two left lanes slightly faster than traffic. Its the big speed differential that will get you.

      On surface streets, I’d only split at traffic lights to get to the front.”

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    Maybe it works in L.A. but people tend to take road markings as suggestions here.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    I learned to ride a motorcycle and split in it and bicycles in NYC. I think it’s a good idea but you better know what the hell you’re doing

  • avatar
    Turbo Is Black Magic

    Having lane split in SoCal from 2005-2010 for 40k miles a year, it really is the only way to get around SoCal. I witnessed many accidents from squids doing 30+ faster than traffic, yet I never had any close calls while I was doing it. With discipline to only going 10 mph faster than traffic and a strong grasp on the fact that it’s not a right but a privilege to do it and to be patient around big vehicles and Prius drivers usually kept me out of trouble. I wish more states would allow it, I generally felt safer splitting lanes, now I feel nearly helpless waiting at lights for the big hit from a distracted SUV driver.

  • avatar
    Matt Posky

    I’m an advocate. But I do see some people abusing it in states that allow it. Plenty of car drivers do not understand the rules of the road when it comes to motorcycles. I’ve been passed on the right by cars on a two-lane road in the Midwest and watched people go bananas when I’ve filtered to the front of a clogged intersection in California. Something about bikes make certain people act truly stupid.

    If it can be done safely, I say do it. I’ll even lane split in NYC, simply because cabbies do not adhere to lane markings whatsoever and it’s often safer to get ahead of them at a light. However, it seems best to do it at low speeds (if only to keep other drivers calm and give you ample time if they try to swap lanes without looking).

    Although I doubt I’d do much splitting on a Road Glide — especially in ultra-dense traffic. How much clearance did those bars have?

  • avatar
    thegamper

    From a traffic flow standpoint it makes sense to allow lane splitting. Agree that there should be a speed limit on how fast one travels in excess of the flow of traffic.

    From a pragmatic standpoint, I think by law, only riders that use a helmet should be allowed to lane split even if the state you are riding in allows for no helmet.

    Also, because it is dangerous, because motorists in marked lanes can have a difficult enough time handling other traffic in marked lanes, I believe lane splitters should do so at their own risk. Bar lawsuits against motorists by motorcyclists who are lanesplitting when the person in the vehicle in marked lanes, following traffic laws, accidentally hits a lane splitter.

    Along with that, Motorcycle insurance should not be tied to the pool of motorists driving automobiles. Im sure it will vary state by state, but I believe the Michigan catastrophic claims fund (Which is funded by all motorists) pays out to motorcycle accident victims, even those who do not wear helmets. That is not right. If motorcyclists do not want to abide by the same rules as cars, they should pay for the risk associated with it such that it is not to the detriment of people who have to pay for insurance on an automobile.

  • avatar
    VW4motion

    Natural selection, but if found without insurance the riders should get a $5000 fine. Tired of seeing hear morons being a burden on our healthcare system.

  • avatar
    Syke

    I’m definitely in favor of the concept, it should have been made legal decades ago.

    The only downside I see to it is the American attitude of equality: “If I can’t do it, then I’ll damn well make sure you can’t either.” Usually seen as the jackass car driver who will open his door to block you from getting thru. Obviously, if you started behind him in a traffic jam, you’re expected to stay behind him during that traffic jam.

    Then again, when I’m on one of my bikes, and you’re in a car, you are automatically a complete homicidal stupid jackass until you prove otherwise.

    • 0 avatar
      N8iveVA

      “Then again, when I’m on one of my bikes, and you’re in a car, you are automatically a complete homicidal stupid jackass until you prove otherwise.”

      Funny that’s how I look at bikers. And I am one.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      That’s the same attitude that accounts for left-lane vigilantes. “If I can’t exCEED the SPEED LIMIT, then neither can you!”

  • avatar
    imprezive

    I lane split everyday and it’s amazing. I actually find drivers are super polite and slide over to give me room and I try to wave thanks. It puts me in the right mindset when I get to work because I’ve usually already said thank you to 40+ people when I walk in the door. As long I’m keeping a reasonable speed differential I really don’t have any close calls.

    • 0 avatar
      IHateCars

      “I lane split everyday and it’s amazing. I actually find drivers are super polite and slide over to give me room…”

      That’s awesome….where do you live? Even up here in super polite Canuckistan, once people get behind the wheel, that politeness disappears….

      • 0 avatar
        imprezive

        Southern California. I commute between Orange County and LA. If there is an accident or construction people start getting super testy but otherwise I never really have problems. It’s exclusive to being on the bike though. I’ve seen people merge onto the freeway, cut all the way to fast lane, then hold everyone up driving slow as hell but still scoot over when I come up on them. I don’t get it but I’ll take it.

    • 0 avatar
      stevelyon

      I had the same exact experience when I lived in LA. I was pleasantly surprised (shocked, even) to find that LA drivers are generally pretty good about keeping an eye out for motorcycles, at least during commute times. Weekend riding was a different story, but still not bad.

      Reasonable speed differential is key – I never understood why the CHP moto officers would split at insane speeds. They were as bad as the squids on the 10 where I did most of my splitting.

  • avatar
    IHateCars

    I’ve been street/track riding since I was 18, I don’t see the benefit outweighing the risk. 99% of cagers pay little to no attention to motorcycles, so I personally wouldn’t do it. But it’s not legal up here in Ontario anyway.

    • 0 avatar
      carve

      That’s WHY you lane split- so you don’t get rear-ended by an inattentive driver and smashed between two cars. Responsibly lane splitting is statistically safer in stop and go traffic- quite a lot so, actually.

  • avatar
    chaparral

    Lane-splitting should be allowed, with either a guideline or regulation that it must not be done with a closing rate greater than 20 MPH.

    Motorcycles should also be exempt from speed limits, and allowed to treat any red light as a stop sign. Motorcyclists need to be able to clear out of traffic at any opportunity. Unfortunately, American motorcyclists wasted their political power getting helmet laws revoked.

    • 0 avatar
      IHateCars

      Don’t get me started on the logic of the anti-helmet crowd….

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        It’s the “freedom ‘n whiskey” / “live free or die” thing, I guess. And it’s nuts. But, hey, if someone’s stupid enough to make himself into ground round, far be it from me to stop him.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      Speed limits should certainly be based at least partially on momentum (mass*speed), rather than speed alone. While a bicycle doing 45 in a school zone during pick up time may be less than ideal, a mining truck doing so, is a whole ‘nother cup of tea.

      In LA, so many red lights are sensor based already, and many of those don’t register bikes, that treating them as stop signs, at least during (comparatively) low traffic periods, is already being done. I was once given a warning on a bicycle, by a motocop, for running a red. When I told him the sensor doesn’t register bicycles (nor motorbikes), he told me that would be an excuse on a motorbike, but not on a bicycle, since I could hop on the sidewalk and press the pedestrian button…..

      Arguing a kid on a kickscooter shouldn’t be able to take his vehicle through gaps too narrow for the Queen Mary to fit thorugh, just in case the Queen Mary captain happened to be some self righteous idiot, is so retarded, I don’t even want to go there.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Lane splitting is illegal here in NM. Reading the motorcycle manual before taking the test there were many illustrations and diagrams to show what was and what was not permissible. Personally I think splitting a lane is foolish. I don’t trust the other person enough to do that.

    NM also had the interesting requirement that “helmet laws” only applied to people under 18. Once you hit the age of majority all bets were off. Having laid a motorcycle down only once (and with a helmet) I’ll never be on two wheels without one.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      While I personally won’t ride far without a helmet even where allowed to, it certainly doesn’t hurt me that others choose to do so. Heck, those who do are likely to ride more carefully, and have both better peripheral vision and sound awareness. Both of which should contribute to making other road users safer. It’s a bit like choosing to drive a Miata, rather than an armored S-Class. You yourself are less safe, but everyone else is more so. Ditto for you choosing to ride a bike at all, versus an SUV. In all cases, those who take on additional personal risk, while reducing the risk to others, should be applauded for their altruism. Not vilified.

    • 0 avatar
      carve

      I’m in NM as well, and I’d like to lane split *because* I don’t trust other drivers. In stop and go traffic, lane splitting is statistically safer because you’re not going to be rear-ended by inattentive drivers. If you’re doing it responsibly, you’ll generally be able to avoid people changing lanes into you.

      Fortunately, we don’t have much traffic in NM. I’d love to filter to the front of lights though.

  • avatar
    stevelyon

    I used to commute on the 10 between downtown LA and Santa Monica on a BMW K1200RS. I lane split every damn day, for two reasons:

    1. It is FAR safer to lane split – at a reasonable speed – than it is to sit in stop-and-go traffic. You’re much more likely to get rear ended sitting in traffic than you are to have trouble splitting.

    2. Time. It took me almost an hour and a half to make that drive in a car, roughly 25 minutes on the moto.

    In the three years that I had that commute, I was bumped twice by cars changing lanes. Neither was bad enough to knock me off the bike, just one broken foot peg.

    There was a study done comparing California, Florida, and Arizona – one state that does allow splitting, with two states with similar climates that do not. Motorcycle accident rates are higher in states that do not allow it. I wish I could find the study to link to it here, but I can’t.

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      I continue to read claims by splitters that it’s safer, because you’re not going to get rear ended.

      We don’t have legal lane splitting here. I’ve worked more accidents than I can count. Many involved motorcycles. Never have I been aware of one that was caused by a motorcycle being rear ended (at more than 2mph).

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Lane splitting isn’t legal here in Colorado, and frankly, it annoys the p*ss out of me when people do it. In my opinion, it’s not much different than someone driving a car on the shoulder to get around a traffic jam. It’s illegal, and it’s a jerk move.

    If traffic’s slow, then deal with it. Write your congressman if you can’t.

    Having said that, it doesn’t happen much around here. Most of the motorcyclists I encounter are decent to share the road with, which I’m grateful for.

    And now my rant ends.

    • 0 avatar
      silentsod

      I have the opposite thoughts of you as a fellow CO resident; them lane splitting means less congestion so long as it’s done in a relatively safe manner. I don’t care that it’s illegal except that people might not expect it. I also try to keep an eye out and make room if they’re doing it because I am a transplant from CA and this is all perfectly normal and acceptable behavior in my original state.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      “If traffic’s slow, then deal with it. Write your congressman if you can’t.”

      Aggrandizing useless, worthless, slimy and scum sucking politicians, is the solution to all the world’s problems, isn’t it?

    • 0 avatar
      carve

      How is it a jerk move? They’re not taking up space in a regular lane, so they’re reducing traffic for you. If they made it legal, more people would opt for bikes, and your traffic would get even lighter. A British study a couple years back estimated if 10% of drivers switched to motorcycles, traffic congestion would improve by 40%.

      You’re just exhibiting childish jealousy for them getting places quicker than though, even though they’re helping you get there a little quicker as well. Getting pissed at the people helping you is the jerk move.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      FM,
      Lane splitting is not good generally but I would allow it in standing traffic but under condition that bike can’t demand car to move. Because in the summer it is horrible to sit in traffic with no AC.

      In my state it is not allowed and I don’t do it. But in slow traffic I use “lane encroaching” technique. The drivers 99.9% times just let me go. So, technically, this is not splitting because I never find myself between to vehicles.

  • avatar
    Rick Astley

    Lane splitting should absolutely be encouraged in Seattle.

    What, with only 300+ days of rain and 7 months of the year with less than 8 hours of daylight, throw in a heavy dash of self entitled Tesla and Prius drivers and you’ve got yourself some natural selection. It’s about time we reintroduce natural selection!

    And yes, I now lump Prius and Tesla drivers into the same group. No other type of person can take the hallmark American self-awareness to that next level of d-baggery like Prius and Tesla drivers.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      Drivers of whatever car is “fashionable” in a given locale, are likely to rate high on the d-bag scale. In liberaltopias like Seattle, those may be Tesla and Prius drivers. In rural areas, it’s the 6″ lift coal rollers. IOW, d-bageery has got less to do with a specific make and model of car, than with the kind of person who attempt to social climb, preen and show off driving them.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      At least Tesla can give you run for your money but Prius… Oh boy. I see sometimes they drive “like crazy”. They think, they are fast but it is 10 sec vehicle after all :-)

  • avatar
    N8iveVA

    I think it should only be allowed in dense stop and go traffic, and at maybe 10 mph over what the traffic is doing. I’ve seen too many things happen to do it myself though.

  • avatar
    Arminius

    Lane splitting here in CA is in a legal grey area. It is not illegal, nor is it specifically allowed by law. Regardless it is generally accepted. As a 20 year Bay Area resident I have no issue with it. As one commentator said earlier if it is done at reasonable speeds (10 MPH within the traffic flow under the speed of 65) it seems fairly safe. During commute time seems the best as most drivers are conditioned to pick a lane and slog it out. In Non-commute times you can get a toxic mix of very different driving styles. A little wave to those who move over goes a long way to generating good will.

    I have to think that mother nature will weed out those motorcycle riders who split intelligently and those who don’t.

    • 0 avatar
      porkrind

      The idea that lane splitting is only OK because it’s not technically illegal is not true. AB51 was signed by Gov. Brown in 2016.

      https://ultimatemotorcycling.com/2016/08/19/california-ab-51-passes/

      That said, the concept that something is a grey area because there’s not a law specifically allowing it is a strange concept that only seems to be brought out with respect to lane splitting conversations. Most of the things we do all day every day aren’t covered by some law making it legal. I can hop down the sidewalk while making duck noises without needing a law to approve it.

      Things are illegal when a law or regulation has been passed specifically making it so. And that’s where all those poor bastards not living in California get pinched. Every other state has made lane splitting specifically illegal.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        “That said, the concept that something is a grey area because there’s not a law specifically allowing it is a strange concept that only seems to be brought out with respect to lane splitting conversations.”

        That’s not what’s happening here. There is a provision of the California Vehicle Code, CVC 21658(a), that on its face would seem to make lane splitting illegal unless both you and the car you’re passing fit entirely within one lane. It says: “A vehicle shall be driven as nearly as practical entirely within a single lane and shall not be moved from the lane until such movement can be made with reasonable safety.”

  • avatar
    gasser

    I live in L.A. and drive the canyons to work more often than the freeways. I think lane splitting is NUTS. The lanes on the old canyon roads are narrow and haphazardly parked cars narrow the lanes with irregularity. Add to the mix SUVs, trucks with the huge mirrors and you are, as Dolly Parton said, putting “100 pounds of mud in a 50 pound sack”.
    My favorite part of the morning commute is the motorcycle drivers (and there are always 2 or 3 jerks in the 6 miles of canyon) who lane split ACROSS the solid yellow line!!! This lane splitting on narrow, twisty roads, before dawn will not end well for some of these bike commuters.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      A guy I sometimes ran into, who commuted from Moorpark or Simi Valley to Beverly Hills on a bicycle (for those not in SoCal, that’s far….. He claimed to be training for the RAAM) “taught” me about “yellow lining.” Meaning, with dense, dense traffic going 10-25mph both ways down a canyon (Topanga in his case), he would keep his bike tires between the two lines of the double yellow, going downhill at 30+… Kept him mentally alert, and diverted his attention from how sore his legs were, supposedly….

      Anyway, on a short, high power to weight motorbike, you can accelerate and pass so much faster than a lumbering SUV, that straights too short to warrant allowing passing for cars, are plenty long enough for a bike. And since solid vs broken yellow is determined with cars (now trucks) in mind, they do mainly serve an advisory (and to the ambulance chasers, guilt determining in case of mishaps) role for bikes. Doesn’t mean accidents can’t happen. But, shit sometimes does.

  • avatar
    Carrera

    I’ve never rode a motorcycle, probably never will. It was never my thing, but I do have respect for all riders. If as a motorcycle rider you’re willing to put up with the dangers associated with riding one, more power to you. As long as you don’t endanger anyone, split all you want. I live in a state where it is illegal but it doesn’t bother me when everyone is at a standstill and a dude on a bike ( always a crotch rocket) idles by slowly and goes between cars. He knows what he is doing, he is taking a risk both from the law and from someone that can hit him, but hey…

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      Agree. Car drivers have AC. For riders movement is AC

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      As someone who’s generally opposed to splitting, I’m just fine with your example. I’m happy to be courteous. I’m not a fan of the additional responsibility put on the car driver, when a bike splits lanes at higher speeds. Heck, I drive a full size sedan and I darn near got swiped by a mid-sized SUV on the way to work this morning. I’m a lot easier to see than a bike!

  • avatar
    carve

    Yeah- it should be legal everywhere, at least in stop and go traffic. It’s actually safer to lane split responsibly than it is to sit in stop and go traffic. That’s not made up hyperbole- there have been studies. People not paying attention often only notice the car in front of you. If you get rear ended in a motorcycle, you’re squished. I’d VASTLY prefer someone changing lanes in to me- glancing blow vs a trash compactor, but if you lane split responsibly, this is a lot less likely than getting rear ended, and it puts YOU in control rather than relying on the driver behind you.

    Also, it reduces traffic for everyone, so when you’re in LA, thank those motorcyclists for doing their part to alleviate traffic. A recent study in Europe estimated that if 10% of drivers switched to motorcycles, overall traffic congestion would improve by 40%.

  • avatar
    silentsod

    I grew up in CA and lane splitting is something I’m all for providing it doesn’t mean ripping past at a 20+MPH delta because surprising car drivers is not a good idea. I do think it should be tied to a mandatory helmet law, however, because car drivers can’t be bothered to thoroughly check their mirrors and even if they do they might not have their mirrors set up correctly.

  • avatar
    Dingleberrypiez_Returns

    I’ve lived in northern California my entire life, and lane splitting is the norm I’ve known. I have absolutely zero problem with it, and think it’s positively bizarre that it annoys some drivers. In fact, I always try to move over in my lane when I see a biker in the rear view, and am always pleased to receive the little thank you wave.

    That being said, looking down from above during my bus commute to SF, the amount of drivers on their cell phones in traffic is staggering. So split at your own risk.

  • avatar
    tonyola

    Lane-splitting is not illegal here in Florida, but the rider could be held liable for a collision unless it could be proven that the car driver was inattentive or careless. Definitely a gray area.

  • avatar
    ByTheLake

    Lane splitting is not legal in Michigan, and I really don’t experience intolerable traffic jams. I’m content staying in the lane, so no lane splitting for me.

    Besides, Detroit-area drivers are aggressive and not accustomed to being passed between lanes, so riders would be side-swiped or shot.

    • 0 avatar
      imprezive

      I live in SoCal and daily a motorcycle for many years now. It’s largely a very positive experience. I borrowed a buddy’s bike to get around Michigan during a visit there. Terrible. I got cut off so god damn much people just didn’t give a shit.

  • avatar
    don1967

    Lane splitting where traffic is partially or fully stopped (say at a red light or in heavy congestion) is a win/win. It alleviates congestion for everyone, saving time and fuel and reducing pollution. It also provides a natural incentive for people to downsize.

    The greatest risk is not that some will abuse it. The greatest risk is people like Cicero1, above.

    I’m a mature and courteous rider, and yet nearly every trip I encounter at least one Cicero. The angry, self-righteous driver (I wanna say “beta male” but woman are equally represented) who is quick to use their car as weapon when they feel they’ve been slighted in some way. Confront them in person and they’re a spluttering coward. But behind the wheel they’re dangerous.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Lane splitting is one thing. Driving on a sidewalk is a completely different thing. That was a d!ck move and the cop should have made you miss your flight for it.

    As for splitting, I’m of two minds. It’s not legal and almost never done in my home state of Washington, so when I’m driving a car in California it always surprises me no matter how carefully I try to keep an eye on my mirrors. But incentives to get people out of cars and onto more space-efficient bikes are good, and I can see how in some situations it’s the most defensive riding technique. I do think motorcyclists are setting themselves up for injury if they split either (a) at more than 10-15 mph faster than the speed of car traffic or (b) when car traffic is moving faster than about 20 mph.

    Incidentally, it’s not as settled as everyone thinks that splitting is legal in California. There’s no law addressing it directly, and many cops seem to think it’s legal. But there’s also a provision of the California vehicle code that says “A vehicle shall be driven as nearly as practical entirely within a single lane and shall not be moved from the lane until such movement can be made with reasonable safety.” I think if a cop issued a ticket to a lane splitter on the basis that they violated that statute, the ticket would have a pretty good chance of holding up in court.

  • avatar
    HahnZahn

    All in favor of lane-splitting here in San Diego. It means fewer cars on the road, though I’m not sure how much of a dent it makes in actual rush-hour traffic – I like to think it helps.

    I think most motorcyclists who lane-split do it pretty responsibly, i.e. at a “safe” speed relative to the automobile traffic around them. Once in a while you see someone going between the two left lanes at like 40 mph while the rest of us are going 15, in which case it’s on the motorcyclist if an accident occurs. But in general, I think those of us cursed to drive at rush hour have a good sense of when a bike is coming up and how to give them a safe berth.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    In Buenos Aires, the lane splitting was both fascinating and terrifying to watch from a car. In city traffic the bikes weave and wind their way through across multiple lanes. Like watching schools of fish of various sizes interact. About 70 per cent of the bikes seemed to be the same model of Honda CB250, light, nimble, small enough, but with enough urge for city speeds. My FJ1200 Yamaha would be useless in that city.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      European and Asian cities are similar. Outside of Germany at least, too dense for the big, America favored bikes to comfortably fit. I’m convinced the fact that most kids spend a few years hacking though this kind of mess on scooters and light bikes before being allowed to drive cars, make them meaningfully more attentive and better drivers. Without awareness garnered during their scooter years, I can’t imagine people could drive like they do in many Latin and Asian countries, without more accidents

  • avatar
    bunkie

    To follow up on my comment of yesterday, I might consider lane-splitting, but only under specific circumstances (traffic speed below 20mph if stop and go, delta-v no more that 5-10 mph). But, in reality, as I’ve gotten older, I have removed myself from riding in circumstances where it would be required. I don’t need the stress.

    Cutting up on a sidewalk? Pushing things because you didn’t leave enough time to make a flight? All completely avoidable with better planning and discipline.

    One of the things covered again and again in aviation training is to avoid “get-there-itis” It’s a killer.

  • avatar
    windnsea00

    Drop a line when in LA next time and come check out my buddy’s boutique storage garage near Leno’s (autotopiala.com / @autotopiala).

  • avatar
    CobraJet

    As a car driver, I give motorcycles a wide berth. Lane splitting and cycles close by scare me. YouTube is full of videos of motorcycles lane splitting with damaging results.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      I’m more scared of motorcycles than they are of me!

      Didn’t see a 2008-2011 Malibu that managed to sneak into my left-3/4 blind spot until the driver beeped the horn on the way to work this morning when I attempted to change lanes; I was almost shaken-up to the point of needing to pull over! If I ever near-missed a bike in that situation, I’d probably be catatonic!

  • avatar
    dont.fit.in.cars

    As a former lane spliter in California, some thoughts.

    Rule 1. Splitting lanes, anyone forward of you has the right of way.
    Rule 2. Everyone is out to kill you. Head on a swivel.
    Rule 3. If you have an opening, width of a closet door that’s your out.
    Rule 4. You have superior power to weight, and better braking, use it.
    Rule 5. Pilot your ride with controlled aggression.
    Rule 6. Every though you wear the gear, physics says you loose.
    Rule 7. Do NOT look at drivers eyes. Watch their wheels.
    Rule 8. Rolling on a cars 6, note driver head movement, it’s a tell.
    Rule 9. Shark mode, pilot slightly faster cruise through gaps.
    Rule 10. Just when you think death is your bitch, your his.

    • 0 avatar
      White Shadow

      Motorcycles do not have better braking. It’s not even close. An average car will stop in a much shorter distance than an average motorcycle.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        +1

        I’m stil surprised by the number of riders who seem unaware of that. Tailgaiting with abandon, instead of either hanging back or passing.

        In the olden, hard rubber whitewall, pre abs, days; cars “could” still limit brake harder, but the average car driver wasn’t a quarter the limit braker the average contemporary rider was. But today, it’s not even close. Marc Marquez on his MotoGP winning Honda, can’t brake nearly as hard from 70, as grandma can by having a stroke and falling onto the brake pedal of her 10 year old Suburban.

        *For those who don’t ride, rear wheel lift is what limits how hard a bike can brake, not the quality of braking equipment per se.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        “Motorcycles do not have better braking. It’s not even close. An average car will stop in a much shorter distance than an average motorcycle.”

        All depends on what you define as an average motorcycle? That is why I’ve never been a fan of cruisers. They are form over function and cannot stop, turn, or go.
        I’ve ridden sport bikes and standards that would easily out brake the vast majority of cars. A sports car on sticky tires is a different animal.

  • avatar
    Eric the Red

    I am a motorcyclist. I ride a big bike and have for years. Lane splitting terrifies me. There is no safety net on a motorcycle. No second chances for a car lane twitch at 50 mph.

    Everything I base my riding on is what can I control and not based on what I think other traffic will or should do.

    I will not put my life in the hands of any other drivers out there and lane splitting is based on people driving reasonably and that does not always happen!

    BUT American drivers are not as bad as many people say they are. Look up videos of India, or Indonesia, or Italy. We generally follow the rules of the road. As the old saying goes “if you pass me you are driving too damn fast and if I have to pass you, you are driving too damn slow”. They only people we truly think are good drivers are ourselves.

  • avatar
    kuman

    I think its ok during traffic jam condition or very heavy traffic.
    Also it should only be done at very low speed let say under 30kmh or so.
    Anything above doesnt permit for enough reaction time and since u got no space to maneuver.

    In my country there is no law being enforced to lane splitting, but people have enough sense not to do it in fast moving traffic.

    Accidents due to this happens, quite often actually, but due to low speeds it is usually is minor ends up with just a few squabbles and small amount of money being exchanged for repairs.

    If the rider is riding at high speeds tho, he will most likely be the one to blamed for that

  • avatar
    Tandoor

    When I’ve been in California the lane splitters generally seem cautious, not too much faster than traffic. Rarely saw any problems with it. Seems like no big deal. In St. Louis the bikers (a minority but enough to cement the reputation) are either going 100+ or gangs of them are blocking the highway so they can do stunts. Lane splitters here would be intensionally murdered by the one or two drivers that know they have mirrors.

  • avatar
    tbone33

    My boring answer based on daily lanesplitting: it depends. There is the Berkley study saying it is as safe if not safer to split lanes under certain conditions. You can google the study, which I seem to remember concludes it is safer if you drive at no more than 15 MPH faster than traffic, with a cap at 50 MPH. Read the study, and make your own logical decision about the level of risk you are comfortable with.

    Here are my rules:
    1. Only lane split if I feel I still have the reflexes and heart for it. An hour of lane splitting can really numb one’s reflexes. Also, if I’ve been cut off 3 times in the last mile I may stop filtering, or just filter at a slower pace.
    2. If cars are at a dead stop, I drive at 20 MPH. If cars are moving, go no faster than 15 MPH faster than traffic. I cap my lanesplitting at 55 MPH.
    3. I’m aware of my bike. I DESPISE the Loud Pipes Save Lives bullshit. Still, my quiet, big, faired Yamaha gets cut off three or four times more frequently than my loud, matte black, little Ducati Monster. Loud pipes help. I hate that fact.

    Confession – I’ve hit car side view mirrors before. One impact was with an SUV that wouldn’t let me filter on my wife’s scooter. Serves that guy right, he began crowding the divider when he saw me splitting lanes and lost a mirror for my trouble. A milder impact occurred when I was new to riding. There was no damage that time, but I felt terrible about the situation.

  • avatar
    Pete Kohalmi

    Yes! Filtering should be legal everywhere.
    It helps everyone out. Motorcycles are a much more efficient mode of transportation compared to cars. They take up less space so more people can be moved on the same width of road. Almost every car on the road has one person in it. Why not encourage motorcycle riding? I’ve read that if only 10% of drivers switched to motorcycles, traffic jams would be cut by 1/3 or more.

    Here in New England filtering is illegal. I never did it until I went to Europe. Then I got comfortable doing it. I came back to the US and was met with dirty looks and flagrant aggressiveness. Why? Because I got ahead of you? It’s really childish.
    If you get the flu, do you wish everyone else got sick too?

  • avatar

    This is an interesting discussion as in all my years of driving I am not familiar with this practice at all. I have seen filtering, where motorcycles gingerly move forward in stopped traffic, which seems to be no problem to me. However, when driving in the left lane one evening in moderately heavy but fast-moving traffic I was startled by a motorcycle passing at high speed between my car and the one in the right lane. Ontario law does not prohibit lane-splitting but it does not seem like a very safe practice to me, particularly where drivers are not used to seeing it.

  • avatar
    JimC2

    Lane splitting has a couple things in common with “move over from the left lane” laws:

    – Done correctly and in moderation, it helps everyone by making traffic flow better!
    – If everybody follows just a few simple, sensible rules, then it works really well too.

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