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Lane splitting

ursharkfuel

God got one thing wrong: Stupid should be PAINFUL!
Member
I heard from an attorney in our off season that wanted me to testify in a lawsuit that involved a lane splitting rider that was paralyzed from the waist down. Based on what I saw I told him that you don't want me on the stand as a witness because I think your client helped to create his own situation.

What happened: I was in my SUV following all the other cars on a packed California highway creeping along at about 10 to 15 mph. And of course the usual suspects come up the lanes, most at a reasonable speeds, and others too fast, but some were gunning their throttles I assume if they judged two vehicles are too close together to easily pass and some are far too loud for those close quarters to be doing that. Some would wave if they moved over and others gave drivers the finger that didn't do anything. Anyway I remember the guy involved gunned his straight pipe v twin, which has an unmistakable sound, right beside us and scared the hell out of me and everyone with me, but I fortunately did not move the steering wheel. He then past the car in front of me and got to the next car in our lane and did the same thing, but that poor lady must have panicked because she pulled her wheel to the right and tragically pinned that dude between her SUV and a large truck. According to his attorney that caused serious damage to his back and pelvis which did not surpise me from what I saw that day. I stopped and could tell he was hurt badly as we treated him for shock. The sad thing was, I could see he had plenty of room to pass, she just didn't move out of her lane to the left and make additional room like some of the other drivers were doing - and he was just loudly making a point. A point in retrospect he really should not have made as it turns out. I told the attorney, I am a bike rider and I was a MSF instructor from 88-92 and I do not lane split, nor do I believe in loud pipes. Putting me on the stand would not help his case, and I have not heard from him since - that was October.

Back when I was teaching MSF classes I had a police officer and his daughter in a class and he explained that the California Vehicle code actually did not permit lane splitting. He said (at that time) the code clearly states, one vehicle per lane at a time. Bikes riding side by side in a lane was not legal either. He said lane splitting was tolerated to allow air cooled bikes to move SLOWLY between cars for airflow only. And if they were moving much faster than walking speed it would be considered reckless driving. When it came to reckless driving he added, that could happen any any speed, with any vehicle, if the vehicle was being operated in an unsafe manner.

I also investigated bike accidents as part of my instructor role while in the USAF and I can tell you I saw far too many wrecks and one fatality caused by lane splitting. The bikes and riders always seemed to be the losers in those collisions because right or wrong they got hurt and it was enough to make me stop lane splitting. I'm simpley not in that big a hurry to risk it.

What about you, do you do it, do your friends do it, have you seen any wrecks caused by it? And BTW, cars can legally change lanes in traffic - it is the splitters coming from behind have to yield assuming they are not moving too fast to avoid colliding which also happens and they wrongly blame the vehicle driver.
 

Konehead34

Member
Member
Never have and never will.

I was a police officer in my better years. My state didnt tolerate it, and i hope they never legalize it. There were enough squids out there doing enough stupid things (wheelies) in traffic, and crash landing.....can u imagine what those knuckleheads would do if that were legalized...
 

Cra-z1000

Member
Member
Well , almost nobody here in Texas signals for a lane change so it would be quite a foolish gamble to attempt lane splitting here . When I lived and rode in Ca. I did it often but never felt like it was the right thing to do or that I had some right to do it legally .
 

kevin.remsen9715

Member
Member
I live in NY and I will not sit still in traffic and run the risk in getting killed. I responsibly split when traffic is very heavy between 0 and 15 mph. I have yet to be pulled over for it. To say that splitting shouldn't be permitted at all because some will ruin it for all is very narrow minded. Kind of like punishing all gun owners for the few that misuse them.
 

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Motomaniac

COG Southwest Area Director
Member
I live here in Southern California and have been lane splitting for years. I am cautious while doing it and have saved many hours of time. Traffic can be very bad here and if done safely I think it is good. I have followed police on a bike splitting traffic a few times too. I always split at a safe speed 15-20mph and if it is tight I will just stay in my lane and be patient till there is more space. There are some riders in our area that go way too fast or gun their bikes in neutral to get a car drivers attention. I am not one of them but my head is always on a swivel to make sure I am being courteous while splitting.
 

nickrides

Member
Member
I've never lived in a area where it was congested enough to lane split; I've never done it.
Question: On my C-14, with the luggage on, is the bike narrow enough?
Aren't the raised lane dividing dots in the road super annoying to constantly ride over?
I might be riding down PCH Hwy 1 from Ojai to Venice beach LA this spring and may get a chance to lane split some.
Nick
2014 C-14
 

dgold

Member
Member
One does not ride the "Bot Dots " for long.
By the way the section of the PCH from Point Mugu to Santa Monica is a major speed trap.
 

lrbuck

Street Cruiser
Member
Industry Vendor
The example cited is common. Passing on the right raises your risk because car drivers don't expect a motorcycle to be there. Additionally,
the convex mirror on the car's right side can make a motorcycle nearly invisible due to it's small size.

It's illegal here in Florida, but like many infractions, are not enforced due to the reluctance of officers to expose themselves and other drivers to the risks of a chase and likely escape of the rider.

Larry
 

kevin.remsen9715

Member
Member
The example cited is common. Passing on the right raises your risk because car drivers don't expect a motorcycle to be there. Additionally,
the convex mirror on the car's right side can make a motorcycle nearly invisible due to it's small size.

It's illegal here in Florida, but like many infractions, are not enforced due to the reluctance of officers to expose themselves and other drivers to the risks of a chase and likely escape of the rider.

Larry
So you're saying motorcycle riders always run in Florida? Good to know...
 

bpdutton

Member
Member
Just got my American Motorcyclist magazine in the mail and there is a story on Montana becoming the third state to adopt lane-filtering legislation (along with CA and Utah.)
 

2andblue

Member
Member
ā€œMontana bill S.B. 9, which goes into effect October 1, 2021, says that motorcyclists are allowed to split between other motorists when the lanes are wide enough, road conditions are safe, and the rider is traveling under 20 mph. Motorcyclists must stay within 10 mph of the ambient traffic.

Even at this lower speed allowance of Lane filtering there is so much to this left open for interpretation - really disagree and find this is not smart.

Would be interesting to see the motorcycle accident rate before / after implementation.
 

zrxmax

Member
Member
Having ridden for many years in California it has been my good fortune to never have had an incident while lane splitting. My approach is one of extreme caution. I have both of my brake points covered... 2 fingers over the front lever and the right foot poised over the rear brake pedal. My observation skills are in high alert... are people drifting ahead? Are they texting or distracted? What is my differential speed with surrounding traffic? At what speed should I simply blend back into the average speed of the vehicles around me? These are all considerations that I am updating constantly. Add to that the possibility of spotting road debris and falling objects from the loaded trucks going my way. Do you know how many mattresses, couch cushions, dresser drawers and wooden chairs litter the highways around the 1st of the month when people are carelessly moving?

Anyway... let it be known that on at least two occasions I have let a Highway Patrol and Sheriffs go on ahead without me because they are riding between traffic at a higher speed than I am comfortable with. I like having law enforcement ahead of me when splitting traffic for the simple fact most people straighten up a bit when they see the "Ticket Master" riding by between lanes and therefor are a bit more cognizant of their driving awareness. I prefer not being the lead motorcycle in the motorcycle caravans that are working their was through stop and go traffic that happen frequently in my area. However, we do have plenty of courtesy on display as people in the number 1 lane are often aware and move over when they see motorcycles coming up through slow moving traffic. I do my best to give them a thumbs up after I pass if the risk factor is favorable. I also see on occasion those believers in loud pipes save lives as well as the horrible gestures they give on occasion that diminishes the overall "Ambassadorship" of motorcycle riders in general. Having said that... it is my belief the way we drive affects those around us and the better we drive and the more respectful we are to other drivers the better it is for everybody long term and short term.

Many times while splitting lanes I have been tailgated by faster lane splitters.... I simply move over and let them go... I will watch and see if anything happens that could have possibly been me.

So... why do I split lanes? Because to sit there when I can keep moving especially in backed up traffic at a standstill is beyond my ability to stay patient. Having commuted for decades in the Southern California jungle of congested traffic is simply too much for me. I have commuted as much as 15,000 miles in 5 months before by car.... 2.5 to 3.5 hours to get home is very taxing. I bought the Concours to make it comfortable... My other bike is a Hayabusa and its fun.... but not so much for commuting.

My closest call? Traffic was stopped when approaching a traffic light. Some guy jumped out of his truck and the first moment I saw him was when he rounded the front go his pickup to grab something out of the box on the passenger side. I did a short stop where the rear wheel came off the ground briefly. He stood right next to me not saying a word as he fished out of the box whatever he was after. Had I not been holding in the clutch I would have hit him on the back with my left fist. I am glad I didn't do that because it would not have changed anything. Had I hit him with 500+ lbs of motorcycle ( on the Busa ) he would have gone down hard... and it would have been somebodies fault... not sure who... it was not a pedestrian crosswalk area.

Anyway... those are my thoughts and experiences... comments are welcome.
 

santacruzrider

Member
Member
Personal feelings of self-preservation and opinions about lane splitting aside -- I suspect the SUV driver will be cutting a check for the injured motorcycle rider. The current law in California makes it illegal for a motorist to move their vehicle to impede a lane splitting bike, and that sound like what occurred. I empathize with the motorist that that was not her intention, but that's why they call it an accident.
I lane split all day long, but I don't believe that loud pipes are an effective tool at communicating with surrounding motorists. I've been known to rarely use a horn tap to get someone's attention if they are lazily pinching the MC lane, but by then I'm usually at a dead stop and there's no way to get pinned. I have no interest in being right but also in the back of an ambulance.
If you keep on top of the trial, I'd be interested to hear the verdict.
 

Motomaniac

COG Southwest Area Director
Member
I do a lot of stupid things on a motorcycle, but I'm not a lane splitter.

Ride safe, Ted
Honestly it is not a stupid thing if you are careful, considerate and your time is important. California is a car crazed and a very populated state and I have a healthy respect when I utilize lane splitting. Most of the country does not allow it and when I am in those states I follow the law. I do respect your opinion Ted since I have known you for a long time. :)
 

connie_rider

Member
Member
My OOps. Wasn't trying to say that Lane splitting is stupid.
Just saying it's not something I would do as I take e'nuff chances as it is. **
Everyone has their own choice.

** NOTE: I live in Texas / not allowed / frowned on / ie; Would piss off the rednecks. (which makes it more dangerous)

See y'all at the National.
Ride safe, Ted
 

ursharkfuel

God got one thing wrong: Stupid should be PAINFUL!
Member
I live in NY and I will not sit still in traffic and run the risk in getting killed. I responsibly split when traffic is very heavy between 0 and 15 mph. I have yet to be pulled over for it. To say that splitting shouldn't be permitted at all because some will ruin it for all is very narrow minded. Kind of like punishing all gun owners for the few that misuse them.
Nice pic, it just doesn't show the folks wedged BETWEEN cars when the bigger vehicle leaves it's lane due to texting, phone use, inattention, avoiding an obstacle and so on. I watch my mirror when stopped as much as I watch the intersection. More than once I have had to ease up beside the vehicle in front of me because of someone stopping too long behind me and it happens in 4 wheelers also.

Narrow minded? Sure, but no more than the belief that being between cars in no lane is some how safer than being in front of behind them in lanes only designed for ONE vehicle to occupy. And while I fully support the 2nd amendment, I am none too kind to a gun owner that acts recklessly or does not handle their arms safely which makes all of us look bad when they become yet another bad "accident" stat.
 
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ursharkfuel

God got one thing wrong: Stupid should be PAINFUL!
Member
I live here in Southern California and have been lane splitting for years. I am cautious while doing it and have saved many hours of time. Traffic can be very bad here and if done safely I think it is good. I have followed police on a bike splitting traffic a few times too. I always split at a safe speed 15-20mph and if it is tight I will just stay in my lane and be patient till there is more space. There are some riders in our area that go way too fast or gun their bikes in neutral to get a car drivers attention. I am not one of them but my head is always on a swivel to make sure I am being courteous while splitting.

I'm in Cali too where traffic is a way of life. Lane splitting is a personal choice, but I cannot get behind the "it is safer" argument is all. And it sounds like you are trying to be cautious when doing so - way to go! But it truly is not "legal" here as some have said because vehicle code does not permit more than one vehicle in the same lane and there is no "bike lane" on the highway, splitting just tolerated. And some smart lawyer will challenge the claimed law allowing it and win on the precedent that already exists in the vehicle code prohibiting it.

I'm not convinced loud pipes are anything but obnoxious either, but people do it and that is definitely not legal. And they swear that the noise is safer, while in the same breath they argue that helmets are unsafe - oops, laughed so hard on that one I almost wet myself. Time for a bathroom break.
 
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