Is Lane Splitting Safe?

Lane Splitting in California. From Wikipedia

Is Lane Splitting Safe?

We visit our daughter regularly in San Diego. When there I wonder about the safety of “Lane Splitting” in a state were big state government bends over backward to protect us from ourselves. Sometimes this is done at the expense of just plain ol’ common sense. I could give many examples but time and space doesn’t permit.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with lane splitting (definition from Wikipedia) refers to a two-wheeled vehicle moving between lanes of vehicles that are proceeding in the same direction. More narrowly, it refers to passing stopped or slower moving traffic between lanes at a speed greater than surrounding traffic. It is also sometimes called lane sharing, white lining, filtering, or stripe-riding. Alternatively, lane splitting has been used to describe moving through traffic that is in motion while filtering is used to describe moving through traffic that is stopped.

Lane splitting by motorcycles is generally legal in Europe, and in Japan and several other countries, and is illegal in many U.S. states, but is considered lawful in California.

Lane splitting has seemed very dangerous to me. On one occasion, while driving in California, I checked my rearview mirror before changing lanes… nothing there… but just as I started the lane change a bike came zooming by splitting lanes. Where he came from I had no idea. A second sooner for me or a second later for him and we could have collided. A very close call and I’m not even sure the rider was even aware of how close we had come to a colliding.

On my last visit to California, we were in heavy traffic on I-5 with traffic moving very slowly. Lane splitters were everywhere. I thought to myself, “This is an accident waiting to happen.” I noticed a ‘couple’ zoom by us when I had thought this. A mile or two down the highway the couple was on the side of the freeway with a car… exchanging insurance information and both were on their cell phones. This was an obvious accident with no little or no damage. A short time later and several miles down the freeway, the couple passed us again.

I’m glad it was a minor accident but I wonder how many of them aren’t. I know there are two sides to every story and I haven’t heard much of the other side. So help me here. Am I wrong about lane splitting? Let’s hear from all sides.

UPDATE: Watch this about lane splitting. This is good to know…

Ride safe… and be very careful if you do lane split. I hope to see you somewhere on the road.



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