Some drivers may not like it, but lane splitting is not against the law in California. Lane sharing is when a motorcyclist moves between lanes when flowing in the same direction as the rest of traffic. It most often happens when traffic is slow or stopped, and motorcyclists have enough room to keep moving forward between cars.
Legal but potentially risky
While lane splitting can help motorcyclists get to their destination efficiently when traffic stacks up, it can be dangerous in certain circumstances. For example, motorcyclists may be at a greater risk when they lane share:
- Near highway on or off ramps
- When traveling at high speeds
- When riding at night
- When riding on uneven terrain
- When lane sharing near other bikers who are also lane sharing
To avoid injury, only riders who are experienced and skilled should attempt to lane share. In addition, riders should assume that cars can't see them, and not travel more than 10 m.p.h. faster than the rest of traffic when lane sharing. Riders should also not try to lane share at speeds greater than 30 m.p.h. In short, lane sharing can work, but only when motorcycle riders use caution and maintain respect for other drivers on the road.
If you're injured
Despite best intentions and careful riding, many motorcyclists are hurt every year because a driver didn't see them (or wasn't looking). Motorcycle accidents can be physically devastating and financially draining without the right legal representation. If you're injured while lane sharing, it's important to remember that doing so is not against the law, and you have rights that deserve protecting.