Last week California became the first state to officially legalize motorcycle lane splitting, though the controversial practice has been tentatively allowed for decades.
Bill Supporters Say It Will Reduce Traffic And Increase Safety
The bill was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown and will go into effect on January 1, 2017. It officially defines lane splitting as “driving a motorcycle that has two wheels in contact with the ground, between rows of stopped or moving vehicles in the same lane, including on both divided and undivided streets, roads, or highways.” The bill’s supporters claim that lane splitting reduces traffic congestion and that driving between vehicles is safer for motorcyclists. Said one motorcyclist, “It’ll get us out of their way faster.”
CHP To Issue Specific Guidelines On Lane Splitting
The bill also gave the California Highway Patrol authorization to set more specific guidelines on lane splitting. Before the bill was passed, CHP allowed lane splitting as long as motorcyclists did not travel more than 15 m.p.h. faster than the rest of traffic and so long as they did not exceed speeds of 50 m.p.h. The motorcycling community complained about these guidelines, saying that the speed limit was too low and that CHP had no authority to set the guidelines.
Some Residents Are Concerned With About Safety
Many Californians are unhappy with the ruling. In a study last year from the Office of Traffic Safety, almost two thirds of California residents say that they disapprove of lane splitting. And those who drive large vehicles are particularly concerned about legitimizing lane splitting. Guillermo Rojas of Santa Ana stated, “I drive a big, tall truck and there’s not a lot of room around it in the lanes. Now I’m afraid that I might really hit someone if there isn’t much room between us.”