California Is Close to Legalizing Lane-Splitting with Only Two Major Rules

California dreams about a lane-splitting law 1 photo
Things may finally be set in motion in case the California Assembly bill 51 will make it into a law. Basically, California, which is the only American state that allows lane-splitting, is looking forward to adding a solid legal background to the wholes deal.
That is because the rules that govern this type of traffic are a bit nebulous and this is definitely not a helping hand when having to deal with the less pleasant results of in-traffic clashes.

Many of the rest of the states are coming up with all sorts of reasons to make lane-splitting illegal, from dumb claims of it "not being fair" to other unfounded subjective fears and a whole lot more. All this time, California has dedicated some resources and efforts, both from the Highway Patrol and the Berkeley University, and the studies that have been carried out revealed two main things.

Lane-splitting demystified

First off, lane-splitting is helping ease traffic and reduce congenstion because bikers will no longer be forced to wait in line with the very slow or stuck cars. By filtering ahead between the lanes, they free up the road.

The second result thing the Californian studies produced was that splitting lanes, when done in a responsible way, is not the ultra-dangerous type of riding its adversaries often said it was. If anything, splitting lanes at moderate speed is not significantly more dangerous than riding a bike in normal conditions.

It's true that a motorcyclist who is riding between the lanes in slow or stuck traffic may be exposed to more dangers, but that is because drivers fail to assess the traffic surrounding them. Even when riding in a single file on multi-lane highways, accidents often occur because drivers will decide to change lanes without checking their rear and most importantly, their side mirrors.

Common sense rules to rule lane-splitting

Like we stressed out in the editorial on lane-splitting, all it takes is common sense to keep things on the safe side. This is exactly what the California assembly says in the bill 51. There are two main rules for splitting lanes:

1. The motorcycle is not driven at a speed of more than 50 miles per hour.
2. The motorcycle is not driven more than 15 miles per hour faster than the speed of traffic moving in the same direction.

They are complemented by another guideline that warns that riders that they are not allowed to break any other existing road regulations when splitting lanes: " This section does not authorize a motorcycle to be driven in contravention of other laws relating to the safe operation of a vehicle."

Basically, the AB51 puts in few easy-to-understand words what most riders are doing even in places where lane-splitting is not allowed. From one rider to another, this would translate to "don't ride at high speed between the cars, and make sure your speed, relative to that of the traffic, is not exaggerated."

To any person in their right mind, this is a great layout for better, more fluid traffic. But of course, there is still some road ahead until AB51 turns into a law, and who knows what kind of opposition or other mindless amends it will face.

Either way, California is offering an awesome example. Wonder what will happen in other states if the Golden State does come up with a new, good and efficient law to allow lane-splitting...
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