A recent report from a Los Angeles Times writer chronicling her experience as the passenger of a motorcyclist experienced in the art of so-called lane-splitting is, as it was undoubtedly intended to be, humorous.
Importantly, though, it was also instructive and even important for the spotlight it put on the practice, which, as the reporter noted, has passionate detractors and advocates, respectively.
The former camp comprises mostly drivers of passenger vehicles, who often creep along slowly or are at a complete standstill while idling on Southern California’s crowded grid of interlocking freeways and interstates. As they inch along in traffic, bikers occasionally pass by in the narrow spaces between them and an adjacent lane.
Interestingly, that seems to be neither explicitly legal nor illegal in California. Authorities, well, condone it without really saying much about it.
As the Times article points out, legality might eventually win out as regards lane-splitting, with a legislative bill recently passing through the state Assembly and soon to be considered by the California Senate.
There is some empirical evidence to support the practice, with a UC-Berkeley report concluding that lane-splitting “appears to be a relatively safe motorcycle riding strategy” when certain speed-related limitations are imposed on riders.
Passage of the lane-splitting legislation would be more than novel; in fact, it would make California the only state in the country to have such a law.
Most motorcyclists across the stat enthusiastically endorse the idea. A particular concern that many riders often point to is their fear of being struck from behind by inattentive drivers while stalled in traffic.
We’ll be sure to keep readers in the loop on the lane-splitting legislation’s fate in the Senate.