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Motorcycle Lane-Splitting--Okay, or Dangerous?

It's perfectly legal, but police caution both motorcyclists and bicyclists about the dangers. Tell us what you think.

 

We've all experienced it: sitting in endless Bay Area traffic on a clogged freeway at rush hour, when, suddenly....a motorcycle blows by in that narrow strip between your lane and the lane of the vehicle next to you.

Is that guy crazy? Or is he/she a smarter commuter than I? And, is what he's doing even legal?

According to an article in Friday's San Jose Mercury News, "lane-splitting" by motorcyclists is perfectly legal, albeit controversial.

The article coincides with the beginning of Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, and the release of a survey by the state Office of Traffic Safety on the practice of lane splitting. 

The survey found that 53 percent of drivers think splitting lanes is against the law, but that 87 percent of motorcyclists do it. (The survey also found that 7 percent of drivers say they've tried to block bikers as they ride between lanes.)

California is the only state that permits lane-splitting, and while there is no law that deals directly with the practice, police warn of it's hazards.

"While lane splitting is legal, it can be very dangerous, especially when motorcyclists are splitting lanes at an unsafe speed," said Lieutenant Pat Halleran of the .

"Driving safely, whatever the means of transportation, requires a driver's undivided attention and situational awareness," said Halleran.

There are more than 1.2 million motorcycles on California roadways today--twice as many as a decade ago.

In recognition of Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, electronic freeways will display the message, "Share the road. Look Twice for Motorcyclists."

What do you think about motorcycle lane-splitting? Are you a motorcyclist? Tell us your thoughts in the comment section below and take our poll.

 

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Rick S. May 07, 2012 at 05:49 PM
Lane splitting should only be done at low speed in slow moving traffic, with the motorcycle moving 5-10 mph over the traffic speed, not at speeds at or near the posted speed limits. Just my thoughts. I do not ride a motorcycle and do not have a problem with lane splitting, and will try to give room when I see them.
Gerry Mazloum May 07, 2012 at 06:54 PM
I agree with Rick, Lane splitting should only be done at low speed in slow moving traffic. I Work as a Motor Escort Officer and Funeral Escort. I split lanes all day long on city streets and on the freeway more than often faster than the regular flow of traffic, and have found that the general public is very aware of motorcycles splitting lanes and do accomodate cyclists. Thank you to all you courteous people
MT May 08, 2012 at 03:41 PM
Asking the general public if motorcyclists should or should not perform technical riding tasks is as ridiculous as asking the general public to make flying rules for pilots.
MT May 08, 2012 at 03:46 PM
Thnks for your thoughtfulness, Rick. I wish everyone who did not ride had as much common sense and common courtesy as you.
Big Wayne May 08, 2012 at 04:28 PM
---------- every motorcycle on the street liberates 3/4 of a car-space . every motorcycle that's lane-splitting, is one full car that's NOT in your traffic jam ! . . .
Mervyn Merdock May 09, 2012 at 05:22 AM
Lane-splitting is only safe when other traffic is moving slowly and only at 5-10 mph above the speed of that traffic. I ride a motorcycle as my primary transport - I do not own a car. I find most of the motorists on California roads very courteous by moving over when they see me coming. I have also been blocked off and yelled at by a discourteous uneducated driver. I can see that kind of behaviour leading to road rage - i just backed up and went around them the other side... :-)

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