California, which is the only state in the US that allows motorcycle lane-splitting, has just avoided nefarious attempts by the police to qualify the law.
Lane-splitting or lane-filtering (motorcycles riding between lanes of slow or stationary traffic) has been legal in California for decades and has this month been made legal in NSW (with restrictions). It is now being considered in Queensland and has recently been made Victorian Labor policy.
However, the California Highway Patrol and other state government agencies recently posted “guidelines” to safe lane-splitting on their websites. The Office of Administrative Law has now ordered the guidelines be removed after a Sacramento man said they created an “underground regulation”.
It is a victory for motorcyclists as qualification of the rules would be a first step to diluting the law. Basically, there is no law against lane splitting or filtering, so it is an accepted and legal practice. This was the case in Australia until NSW created a lane-filtering law from July 1. Before that, police could fine riders for failing to stay in their lane, passing on the left, dangerous riding, inadequate indication etc. Now, the NSW allows lane filtering, but with stringent and restrictive conditions.
This latest incident in California means riders have avoided any watering down of the law.
I’ve observed lane-splitting while I’ve been in LA and it works, allowing traffic to keep moving and allowing riders to avoid rear-enders caused by heavy traffic suddenly and frequently coming to a halt.
It is about time other states in the US and Australia adopted the tolerant Californian approach to this life-saving rider maneuvre.
The AMA supports the continued use of safe lane-splitting in California and the implementation of lane-splitting laws in other states, coupled with extensive rider and driver education programs.
The deleted CHP guidelines can still be downloaded here.