Motorcycles Cruising Between Cars May Soon Be Legal in First State

Lane-splitting bill would make California first to formalize practice
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 5, 2016 12:46 PM CDT
Motorcycles Cruising Between Cars May Soon Be Legal in First State
Riding high on the hog—in between other cars.   (Shutterstock)

Lane-splitting—where motorcycles pass other cars in traffic by cruising in between—might soon be legal in at least one state: California. The state's Assembly unanimously passed a bill Thursday giving the California Highway Patrol authority to create guidelines for the practice, reports the Los Angeles Times. The bill, which would make California the first state to give the official OK to lane-splitting, has kept things vague, simply defining what a "lane" is and directing the CHP to fill in the blanks. The bill's original wording would've allowed the practice only if a motorcycle was going less than 50mph and not more than 15mph faster than traffic, but the specifics were later removed before passage.

While critics say lane-splitting is dangerous for all involved, advocates cite several reasons for why zipping between cars is desirable: It saves fuel for bikers, cuts down on traffic congestion, and even keeps motorcycles from overheating, as the bikes aren't designed to sit in traffic, one biker tells KCRA. "It definitely makes a motorized two-wheeler the second fastest way around the city in rush hour by a long shot," Andrew Collins writes for Jalopnik. And it could even spare motorcyclists from injury: says motorcycle groups and a University of California at Berkeley study point out that stop-and-go traffic can be dangerous for bikers because drivers in big cars may not spot them. (More California stories.)

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