A rush to end legal divide on motorcycle lane-splitting

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lanesplitting1It can be a jarring experience…you’re sitting in your car or truck in heavy freeway congestion and a motorcyclist speeds by you between the lanes of traffic, passing within inches of your rear-view mirror.

Is what that motorcyclist is doing legal? Should it be legal?

Well, it’s called lane-splitting, and it exists in regulatory gray area. It’s not technically legal, but it is condoned by the CHP and other police agencies in the state and around the country. A recent poll found that nearly 90 percent of riders in the Golden State split lanes when traffic is heavy.

Studies have shown that lane-splitting is generally safe, but it can be made dangerous when the speed of a motorcycle far exceeds the flow of traffic.

Now some state legislators want to give lane-splitting legal sanction. The proposed law would allow motorcyclists to travel between cars at speeds up to 15 miles an hour faster than the flow of traffic, up to a maximum of 50 mph.

Supporters say lane-splitting is actually safer than keeping motorcyclists trapped between cars in traffic, where they are more likely to be rear ended.

Be that as it may be, it appears lane-splitting is here to stay, especially as highway congestion gets worse in American cities. In fact, California is just one of several states thinking about passing laws that would make an already-accepted practice 100 percent legal.