A Bill: Cal­i­for­nia law­mak­ers could put an end to traf­fic jams, at least for mo­tor­cy­clists

Cal­i­for­nia AB 51 An act to add Sec­tion 21658.1 to the Ve­hi­cle Code

Bloomberg Businessweek (North America) - - Contents - By Lee Wil­son


In most of the U.S., it’s il­le­gal for mo­tor­cy­cles to travel be­tween stopped and slow-mov­ing cars—a prac­tice known as lane split­ting. The ex­cep­tion is Cal­i­for­nia, where the state high­way pa­trol has long in­for­mally con­doned it. The agency posted safety guide­lines un­til 2014, when it was sued by a ci­ti­zen who claimed the Cal­i­for­nia High­way Pa­trol was ef­fec­tively writ­ing reg­u­la­tions with­out leg­isla­tive author­ity. Law­mak­ers have now moved to le­gal­ize lane split­ting.


About 885,000 mo­tor­cy­cles are reg­is­tered in Cal­i­for­nia, more than in any other state. One rea­son is the weather, but an­other is prac­ti­cal: Bikes make it easy to by­pass traf­fic. Driv­ers may get anx­ious when mo­tor­cy­cles thread be­tween cars, but stud­ies show lane split­ting re­duces the like­li­hood that au­to­mo­biles will rear-end mo­tor­cy­cles. In a 2013 re­port, the Na­tional High­way Traf­fic Safety Ad­min­is­tra­tion rec­om­mended fur­ther re­view, as has the U.S. De­part­ment of Trans­porta­tion.


Lane split­ting is com­mon in parts of the world where mo­tor bikes are re­lied on for ba­sic trans­porta­tion. Mo­tor­cy­clists across the U. S. are watch­ing the out­come in Cal­i­for­nia closely. “It helps raise aware­ness of the is­sue,” says Jesse Erl­baum, a co- founder of the New York Mo­tor­cy­cle & Scooter Task Force, which sup­ports le­gal­iz­ing lane split­ting. “Be­ing able to clar­ify a law in Cal­i­for­nia gets the con­ver­sa­tion go­ing.”

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