A week or two ago I had the pleasure of “testing” some new Dunlop tires up north of the L.A. sprawl – all up through recently rained-upon green backroads and citrus farms reeking of orange blossoms, around Fillmore and Santa Paula, looping around Lake Cachuma (filling back up with water!) and Ojai, back down along the ocean and through the Malibu canyons – all on a brand new KTM Super Duke GT, all under blue skies with temperatures hovering in crispy low 60s. Nearly as good a day on a motorcycle as you can have, really. When you’re working, anyway.

And when it was over at about 5 pm, it was time to continue southward on the KTM, back to my digs in Santa Ana, a distance of 69.2 miles says Google. That may sound like an easy hour’s cruise, but if you’ve ever driven in L.A. or any big metropolitan area, you know better. Just a couple of weeks ago, L.A. won the title once again, Worst Traffic in America. My route would take me directly through the belly of the beast. (Actually, I-5 would be the belly, which is constantly undergoing surgery. Don’t even think about that.) We’ll do the 101 South to the 405, a slight gastric bypass.

To get to this in the Golden State from where I live, you must go through, well, it’s not so hellish on a bike at all. Remember to never lane split when there are only two lanes.

To get to this in the Golden State from where I live, you must go through, well, it’s not so hellish on a bike at all. Remember to never lane split when there are only two lanes.

If I was having to make the drive back down through the Valley, over Sepulveda Pass, down past the Getty and through the Westside, past LAX, through South Bay, Carson, Long Beach, yada yada yada, in a car, I probably would’ve either just taken my own life or maybe gone to a movie marathon in some metroplex till midnight. On the KTM, I really wasn’t minding the prospect… actually even looking forward to it after a day falling in love with the KTM.

Surprisingly, southbound traffic on 101 didn’t begin to back up until we were five miles out of Westlake Village! When it did, I fell in line astern as Rennie Scaysbrook from Cycle News moved into the space between the two left lanes of cars, on his BMW S1000XR, and began penetrating the cars, gently at first, slowly…

In some stretches the lanes are wider than others, or maybe there’s just less shoulder to the left which narrows the gap, and Rennie needs to take it a little easy due to his BMW’s wide mirrors and bags. But he’s a professional and soon achieves a reasonably quick pace we’ll be able to run for the 1.5 hours or so this should take. The price of freedom is eternal vigilance; as the cars jostle, you might have to make a juke left or a quick move to the right to avoid clipping somebody’s mirror with your handlebar end, but in decades of lane-splitting, the only actual close call I’ve ever had was when another motorcyclist on a cruiser suddenly appeared ahead of me from in front of a truck as I was lickety-splitting along about 25 mph. I did the best stoppie of my life on a Ducati Monster, then carried on behind him with an elevated heart rate for quite some time. (After that, I always check my mirror for other bikes before I pull into the gap!)

When the cars speed up – speed being relative – we speed up, when they slow down, we slow down, but we never have to stop like they do. Yo, we’re in America, where it’s all about getting ahead, and the only time I ever feel like I’m doing it is when I’m lane-splitting. I finally get to be a one-percenter, and it’s tremendously liberating. Money buys freedom. I don’t even have to experience liberal guilt, because everybody here understands I’m getting ahead without pushing anyone behind. One less car on the road benefits all of us. (This happened to be the night our new President enacted tougher deportation laws; when traffic was flowing freely, it was doing so about 10 mph closer to the 65 mph limit than the night before.) The best is when there are double double-yellow lines that separate the carpool lane from the other four or five lanes, like in the lead photo. Don’t know why they don’t just designate the two or three feet between the double yellows the Motorcycle Lane, because that’s what it is. Yes, I’ve done it for miles right behind a motorcycle officer.

Remind me never to go wherever this is.

Remind me never to go wherever this is.

Lane-splitting isn’t just spiritually rewarding, heck man, it can even be fun. Riding along behind Rennie that night felt a lot like riding single-track on big dirt bikes: Instead of dodging rocks and ruts and roots, we’re dodging mirrors and Botts dots and cars that creep over a little when the driver’s adjusting the stereo or sending a text; 99% of drivers are really good, though (which still leaves about 80,000 cars to be leery of most trips), and lots of them will move over if they see you coming. Motorcycle people trapped in a car move way over and sigh deeply. In the upscale areas (not I-5), just about everybody in the left lanes is a responsible sort with a job, in a decent vehicle they don’t want to see scratched; the rogues are easy to spot. When the trail (the gap between cars) narrows or if somebody throws out a Big Gulp, you slow down and dodge it. When it opens up, you gas it! Fun on motorcycles as the sun sets among all the pretty cars, lights and billboards! It’s like strolling through Manhattan while comfortably seated.

Dangerous? Well, the statistics say you’re something like 36 times more likely to be killed on a bike than in a car, but they also say lane-splitting is safer than not lane-splitting, since you’ve mostly eliminated your chances of being rear-ended. Again, anytime the trail gets really tight, you’re not doing much more than jogging speed (not that I would jog). A “crash” at that point would be more embarrassing than dangerous. I’ve seen one unfold:

I pulled aside one time (on the 5 of course) to let a guy in a Nazi helmet past on his freedom-piped cruiser. Half a mile along and impressing me with his skillz, his right ape-hanger smashed into a shiny new F-150 mirror, which clamped on his front brake and sent him directly onto the pavement at maybe 10 mph (another reason not to have a front brake!). He jumped up unharmed, but may not have remained that way, as the pickup driver was a burly, irate sort who pulled in front of the downed Harley and jumped out to discuss the matter, nicely blocking the two left lanes of I-5 North at rush hour. Nice work, fella! Funny how you can guess a guy wearing a Nazi replica helmet might be the sort to make bad decisions without even knowing him. I can be judgmental that way, sorry.

All this is to say I can’t imagine a world without lane-splitting; I and my MO colleagues simply would not be able to function, I can’t imagine clutching along in a line of cars while constantly monitoring that big SUV grille in your mirrors. It’s a nightmare to contemplate. Why not take the bus at that point?

What got me thinking about the whole thing was reading the comments in the Oregon and Utah newspaper articles we posted recently, where they’re trying to make lane-sharing legal. (Sharing sounds nicer doesn’t it? Or does it smack of socialism?) What if I need to open my door on the freeway and a motorcycle runs into it?

Utah Lane-Splitting Bill Fails

Lane Splitting Bill Passes In Washington Senate

It’s funny how people can be so hotly opposed to a thing of which they have so little knowledge, a thing that’s as commonplace in the rest of the world as… (I kind of want to say free health care, but I know better)… it’s as commonplace in the rest of the world as people keeping right except to pass! Funny but sad…

It’s not all bad all the time…

It’s not all bad all the time…

California does have an excellent Mediterranean climate, but I wonder how much the fact that it’s the only state that allows lane splitting contributes to its being by far the largest motorcycle market in the U.S.? I wonder how many more motorcycles would get sold in other mild-weather states, like Texas, if the freedom-loving pickup drivers stuck in traffic in Dallas or Houston could split lanes? And I wonder why the AMA or the MIC or whoever’s job it is to get more butts on bikes, does nothing to promote it? It’s a simple matter of educating people that lane-sharing gets everybody where they’re going faster, and almost ensures you’ll never have to suffer the inconvenience of finding a motorcycle on your hood when you look up from your Whopper with Cheese. (Though you will need to look in your side mirror before opening your door to throw out the wrapper and beer cans.)

I guess ensuring we’re not oppressed by helmet laws is a higher priority. Maybe we should start some online petition deal here on MO to help our brothers out in the other 49? All I know is I wouldn’t want to / just plain couldn’t live in a world without lane-splitting; I’d probably have to go back to being a car guy. How boring.

  • Umpf. I must be getting old. I just agreed with a Burner Rant.

    Spot on, John.

    • JSTNCOL

      *…What am I missing on A&R Pro right now…?*

  • Campisi

    The AMA/ABATE types don’t care for lane splitting because most of them are ageing Boomers on single-track land barges putting on maybe five thousand miles per year slabbing it between chain restaurants out in flyover country, or perhaps Florida. Splitting is an urban/commuter tactic that they never personally need and therefore won’t let anyone else use.

    • Bananapants Ficklefart

      or maybe its because some hipster urban douchebag or faux-Brit tricked out like the Red Power Ranger needs to street-Rossi between lanes at 30 mph over traffic (derp so sorry, guvnuh, i meant 48 kmh) while brapping his OF COURSE Two Brother exhaust.

      Shall we go on with the stereotypes, or do you want to burn down Berkeley again?

      • Sayyed Bashir

        According to the CHP study, most lane splitters are responsible and experienced commuters.

    • pcontiman

      Hey! I resemble that remark (besides the 5k/year thing) and I looooove lane splitting. Scary but fun.

    • David Cox

      I should note that I first started lane splitting on a Goldwing in 1983, and continue to split on Wings to this day (not the same bike, I’m on my 5th Wing now), Maybe some “Boomers on single-track land barges putting on maybe five thousand miles per year slabbing it between chain restaurants” don’t do it, but I’m telling you that anyone (and I’m not alone) that can safely squeeze a big bike like a Wing between cars – that rider knows something about handling and controlling their bike. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c793ff2b9db38030aedd24e64c66f12e46b93c399baa3485e1cbd1378513a39a.jpg

  • Starmag

    Even with lane splitting, I don’t know how you guys put up with L.A. traffic. They say patience is a virtue. Even Egan thought that the Frozen Tundra was a positive trade-off. I driven there many times, L.A. has earned it’s ranking. I can see why driving there makes lane splitting such a high priority.

    • John Sheridan

      I don’t put up with it, I actually enjoy it and look forward to it. 50,000 miles dragging knee in the canyon was fun, the commute through traffic on that yellow HOV line is way more fun.

      • john burns

        well I dunno about MORE fun, but not so bad.

    • Bruce Steever

      Challenges are fun. Just like dealing with adverse weather on a bike, or tackling a new type of riding skill, or whatever new thing you do on your bike today.

      • Sayyed Bashir

        A challenge where your life is on the line every second is not fun.

        • Bruce Steever

          I get where you’re coming from, as there are plenty of things i think are ‘2extreme4lyfeYo’ as well.

          But at the same time, one way or another, we’re all going to die. You might as well earn it when it comes.

    • Robotribe

      As a life-long Angeleno, I can only agree. It’s terrible here. Don’t come here, people. Please spread the word.

      • Jeevan Chaukar

        I actually agree about LA having horrible traffic. Outside India, this is one place where I found people flouting rules and driving quite aggressively. In LA, it is dangerous for car drivers and bikers – but more so for bikers as cars give no regard to bikers. Also in LA people drive really fast in nearly bumper to bumper traffic also – even Indians won’t dare this 🙂 At the same time, traffic jam is so much that a bike almost always much more practical and gives you at least an outside chance of reaching any place in reasonable amount of time. I wish LA had public transport even 50% compared to NYC – that would really reduce this situation there.

      • JSTNCOL

        Portland too.

  • Old MOron

    Goddamn, JB. This kind of stuff is why you’re the celebrity that you are. I’m just an ordinary average MOron, but like yourself, I cant imagine a world without lane splitting.

    https://youtu.be/mLNAkPsjAEk?t=39s

  • Garth Vader

    Lane splitting will never happen in my state… car and truck drivers consider themselves entitled to any privilege that a motorcyclist has, and if cars and trucks can’t do a thing, then no one else should either (like lane splitting). Vehicle owners believe motorcycles are for amusement and are toys… not to be treated the same as 4 wheeled vehicles. If a 4 wheeled vehicle owner has to pay taxes and registration fees to support public infrastructure, then motorcyclists should abide by the same rules, regulations, problems and expectations as 4 wheeled drivers should. That mindset will never change, even with education and common sense.

    • Kevin Forth

      Agreed. Here in Detroit, you’d be pummeled or worse for attempting something that cars and SUVs couldn’t also take advantage of. You’d be viewed as a rude, self-important motorist with disregard for others, although I totally understand the desire for lane splitting on the Left Coast. Michiganders have never seen lane splitting before, but our traffic isn’t nearly as challenging as it is for LA, so there’s really no need for it.

      • ChiefPockets

        “…really no need for it”? Commuting on 75 and 59 definitely shows a need for it. It’s certainly not as bad as LA, but there’s plenty of crawling and stop-and-go traffic.

    • Bruce Steever

      Well, with that attitude, it’s a wonder we made it to the moon…

      • JMDGT

        I know Palm Springs well. Palm Desert or Ranch Mirage more than likely. Maybe Cambria in the Central Coast. It is hard to get away from the riff raff no matter where you go. Four months is about right if you want to limit your tax liability.

        • Prakasit

          How about Julian, Warner Springs or any of the east san diego county towns? Close proximity to many canyon roads.

          • JMDGT

            No doubt, fine riding there. Shadow Mountain Winery one of the best kept secrets on the planet Is in that area. Maybe closer to Palomar. The wife wants to be nearer the amenities in Palm Springs. I figure I can ride a lot of the good roads having the Springs as a home base. The ride through Joshua Tree and the Mojave up to Death Valley has always been a favorite. Borrego Springs is great coming out of Julian. I miss it.

          • Prakasit

            Will have to check out Shadow Mountain Winery, thanks for the tip. I am actually planning a spring trip from San Diego area , Joshua tree, Death Valley and further north, sounds good. I am sure there is plenty of good riding in Comancheria, right? … Yes, I had to google where that is.

          • JMDGT

            I like going into Joshua Tree from the southern entrance. You can get to it from Mecca and ride up part of the old Rte. 66 to Amboy from 29 Palms on to Ludlum through the Mojave to the east side of Death Valley. I found this route enjoyable. Good luck stay hydrated and well fueled.

          • Prakasit

            Thanks, its always great getting “local” knowledge.

  • John B.

    That opening paragraph of this article is as enticing to motorcyclists as the first paragraph of Moby-Dick is to seafarers. Call me Ishmael.

    I’m convinced lane splitting is safer for motorcyclists and relieves congestion for everyone on the road. It also seems logical lane splitting would work well in Dallas where we have long flat highway roads and warm weather.

    We would need a major public awareness initiative, however, to make sure drivers know lane splitting is legal as opposed to cheating, and is good for everyone. Texans drive fast and aggressively, about 70% of our vehicles contain firearms, and our highways are filled with large pickup trucks and SUVs. I would want to be darn sure Buba got the memo before I started lane splitting here. But heck, the “Don’t Mess With Texas” campaign convinced Texans not to litter, so anything is possible.

    • Uncommon Sense

      Same thing here in Chicago. We have horrendous traffic and splitting or even just legal filtering at a stop light would do wonders to cutting down on congestion. However, Chicago drivers are notoriously aggressive and rude. Without substantial education, drivers here in Chicago would purposely try to block your path as they would view it as cheating. Of course, this is ironic considering Chicago drivers routinely use bike lanes, emergency lanes, parking lanes, etc to “pass on the right” and cut to the front of a line.

      This is the main reason I think the whole legal lane splitting will probably never come to pass. It would require too much driver education and change in culture. Considering that 80% of driver’s can barely parallel park or even drive a manual, I can’t imagine most being informed enough to know that a bike splitting lanes is legal.

      With that said, lane splitting/filtering would probably do more for traffic congestion than any amount of public transportation. Once people discover they can avoid traffic by riding a motorcycle or scooter, I think more would look at it as legitimate commuter transportation. Right now though, other than the joy of riding, there is no real advantage to riding a bike vs a car. Most are going to choose a car.

      • Brian

        Uncommon Sense: I agree. I spent most of my adult life living in Chicago and riding a motorcycle in heavy traffic. I would occasionally lane split there when traffic was barely moving. But you are correct in saying that Chicago car drivers will intentionally block your path if you are lane splitting on a motorcycle. I’ve had that happen to me many times.

        I moved to California in September of 2016. I commute every day on my motorcycle. Lane splitting here is much different. The drivers for the most part are very courteous and will move out of your way and let you thru. What you have to watch out for here is that some drivers think that they are MUCH better than they really are and will dart out switching lanes, rather than doing it gradually. That being said, many more people here use their turn signals than in Chicago, which is helpful in gauging when & where they will be going. I do love being able to lane split legally here as it takes away the stress of doing it illegally even though you know that it’s more efficient.

        • SingleOccupantDriver

          I’m in the Chicago suburbs too. 10 years ago I sent a fan email letter to Rick Woodbury, inventor of the highway capable Tango thin electric powered vehicle. Since then, I’ve been a strong advocate of building, leasing, selling, and driving Tangos to fix traffic. To see it lane split, go to youtube and search for “lane splitting car: you should be driving me”. The Tango is much safer than a motorcycle. It has a roll cage, steel bars in the car doors, standard windows, and windshield. It can park in one quarter of a standard parking space. Even better, parking it toward the curb will eliminate deaths and injuries to opening doors into bicycle traffic. Further, the DOT could highlight lane splitting lanes to alert drivers and to encourage people to get out of side by side seated cars and into narrow ones. Given it’s the only highway lane splitting car in the world right now, I think its the best designed car. Ever.

    • HazardtoMyself

      Has anyone heard anything about Texas Senate bill 228 to legalize lane splitting? I found one small article on another site that stated it was introduced on Dec 9 2016 for review in May of 2017.

      Everything else I can find though doesn’t look like this bill has anything to do with lane splitting.

      Maybe more “fake news”, so I don’t want to link the site, but would be nice if Texas gave it another shot at passing.

      With John Bs legal background and Burns passion for splitting, hoping one of you might be able to find something more substantial then my pathetic google search.

      • John B.

        You have to understand the Texas legislature has many important items on its agenda. For example, the Texas Anti-Male Masturbation Law HB 4260, which would, among other things, prohibit “unregulated emissions,” and implement a mandatory waiting period for colonoscopies and vasectomies (See below). (Actually, the lawmaker has a legitimate point about legislation purportedly enacted to protect women’s health, but is merely a pretext to make abortion services more difficult to obtain.)

        http://tinyurl.com/z3a96yx

      • John B.

        Provided below is the proposed Texas bill you referenced, which allows limited lane splitting.

        https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a90cf19e24c821f4a6d51c796d1d42336e1b790a23989290f994418193abe995.png

  • JMDGT

    Having benefitted from lane splitting for over 25 years not having it available to my overall riding strategy here in Comancheria is so depressing I am considering the purchase of another home in SoCal just to get back to some riding sanity. Palm Springs looks good.

    • Bruce Steever

      Palm Springs is only good for about four months out of the year, and during those months, it’s filled with hapless and helpless snow birds. Take a pass on this place, man.

  • Ian Lannister

    Have to say that I’m really envious of the generous space you have between vehicles on the Freeway! You should see what my commute looks like, lane splitting between idling cars becomes a hair-width excercise!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PxOpI9u9xvk

  • krishan adhikari

    “Remind me never to go wherever this is.”

    That is new Delhi India 🙂

  • John Sheridan

    i’ve spent 19 Years Lane sharing in California and my favorite commute is from San Diego to Camarillo on my Vstrom 1k. Go up the five, over the toll road (ride the dot bot line under the camera for a free ride) and onto the 405 under the planes landing at lax then the 101 to the plush strawberry fields as you come down the hill into Camarillo. Takes me 2.5 hours average in absolute bumper to bumper traffic unless I stop in Huntington for a coffee and then it’s 2.75 hours.
    I drove my truck once… once.. took me 6.5 hours.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      A 2.5 hour one-way commute is good?

      • Kevin

        At 70 mph? Yeah.

      • pcontiman

        making that commute in 2.5 hours is magnificent.

        • Sayyed Bashir

          I mean 2.5 hrs going, 2.5 hours coming back and 8+1 hours working – that’s 14 hours + 8 hours sleeping = 22 hours. That leaves only 2 hours for everything else.

          • John Sheridan

            I would head up on Mondays or Tuesday spend a couple of nights and then return on Fridays

      • Adrian Hall

        Did you read the part where he said it took him 6.5 in his truck?

        • Sayyed Bashir

          I understand that, but even a 2.5 hour one-way commute (5 hours on the road every weekday) can’t be healthy. But he goes there on Mon/Tue and returns on Fri. My commute by car used to be 1-1.5 hour one-way (during rush hour) until I got my Harley 10 years ago and since then it is 30 minutes regardless of traffic (using the empty or fast carpool lane and riding between cars).

      • David Cox

        That’s roughly 175 miles. Not sure why he had to make that kind of trip, but that’s not too bad as far as time of travel is concerned. I commuted from San Diego to Irvine (Orange County, south of LA) for 3 years – 60 miles each way. Because I could split, it was a 1 hour trip. The few times I was in a cage, it easily took 50% longer(on a good day!).

        • Sayyed Bashir

          I got a great job in Irvine when I was living in San Diego (Imperial Beach) so I had to commute by car until I moved to Laguna Niguel (posh area). Funny thing is I was getting to work earlier until I moved closer to work but that is another story.

  • kawatwo

    Awesome. Preach it brother. The Washington state bill is getting close! We can use it around the Seattle metroplex when another fish truck turns over 🙂

  • Bruce Steever

    Lane-splitting is love. Lane-splitting is life.

    Preach, Burnsie, preach! Can i get an AMEN?!?!

  • Jeevan Chaukar

    LoL – the photo you mention “I don’t want to go wherever this is” is basically in India 🙂 That’s exactly where I have to ride everyday and motorcycle is a boon! Only, we have to be approximately 1 million times more cautious than you are while doing the lane splitting since “Lane” itself is a very dynamic variable 🙂

    • spiff

      Ride safe my friend.

      • Jeevan Chaukar

        I find it quite amusing that you have to have a legal battle for as basic things as lane splitting in absolutely jammed traffic. Here, we just have to do what we have to do… 🙂 I am a very careful rider but have to resort to lane splitting daily. There is no option.

  • Old MOron
  • C.Stevens

    Isn’t the AMA always trying to lobby for lane splitting though?

  • Pete terHorst

    John, you missed the boat, the AMA is very active on the lane splitting front. Ever since its board of directors adopted a formal position statement in 2013 endorsing the practice, the AMA has sent out alerts and worked with members in states where legislation has been introduced. The 2017 AMA Outstanding Road Rider of the Year is “Budman” Kobza, who was instrumental in getting legislation passed in California. See http://www.americanmotorcyclist.com/About-The-AMA/lane-splitting-1 and http://www.americanmotorcyclist.com/Home/News-Story/american-motorcyclist-association-announces-recipients-of-2017-ama-awards

    • john burns

      How about if a state wants to attach a helmet law to a lane-sharing bill (which they all of course very reasonably do)? What then? AMA opposes it.

      • pcontiman

        you can only hope not….. we have that dumb trade in Colorado, no helmet law, no lane splitting. I have to say working in Cali is not so bad….

  • Mad4TheCrest

    These days nearly all my riding is back roads/mountain roads, so I could still enjoy motorcycling without lane-splitting; but, during the many years I commuted it was a relief to have that option. Every state in the Union should allow it.

  • Chris Jackson

    I went to tweet this to my state rep in Utah who voted no on our lane splitting bill only to learn she’s not even on Twitter. Doesn’t surprise me that she voted no. Guess I’ll set up a meeting…

  • asg21

    I seem to recall from Traffic School that “Lane Sharing” is the term used in the California state vehicle code – if you were to ride along on the Botts Dots you’d be lane splitting, which isn’t described as legal. You’re also supposed to travel no more than 15 mph faster than the vehicles you’re passing.

    I agree with the tone of the article, and it’s a moot point for me now that I’m living in Denver, but during my years of freeway commuting in San Diego I felt awfully vulnerable among the SoCal crazies. Filtering to the front of the line at a red light seemed much safer, but one evening while coasting downhill in neutral, (to keep the noise down), between lanes approaching a light, it changed before I arrived, so I passed the slowly-starting minivan on my right intending to move in front of him. I didn’t quite get there, as the driver on my left had to change lanes before he reached the next corner so he could turn right, (new BMW – who would’ve guessed?), so I saw a black right front fender as I somersaulted over his hood. I was hardly bruised, and his insurance company had the same opinion of him that I had, but I’d felt I was riding in a pretty safe manner, and this guy still took me out with a surprisingly abrupt move. My Husky 450SMR was hardly scratched.

    • Kevin

      Coasting…downhill….in neutral….with a speed delta > 10 mph (reducing other drivers notice/reaction times, as well as your own)…geez…who would’ve guessed that you used up all your cushion. News flash: it wasn’t the “SoCal crazies” that left you vulnerable…

      • asg21

        I was coasting between two rows of STOPPED cars waiting for a light to change, bumper to bumper, with absolutely no possibility of anyone changing into another lane (without hitting the car next to them). I doubt I was going over 10 mph. I wasn’t counting on the drivers doing or not doing anything – they were all “parked.” The light changed when I was 3 or 4 cars from the light, so I put my bike in gear and prepared to move into a lane as soon as a gap opened. A gap opened, and the car to my left made an abrupt lane change into me – he was apparently in a rush to move to the right-turn only lane (the intersection was a T) before the next light, which was only about 100 meters further. Perhaps you could provide me with your clearly expert opinion on how you could’ve avoided being hit? Btw – care to point out where I said my speed delta was > 10 mph? I can’t seem to find it.

        • Kevin

          I couldn’t recommend a motorcycle safety course (or refresher for you) enough. Since this isn’t obvious to you, I’ll take the time to point out to you what nearly any motorcycle safety course instructor would point out: if you didn’t anticipate that the black BMW would try to occupy the same space that opened when the van moved, then you were going too fast for conditions A great way to be happy in life is to avoid the things that make you miserable or, not paying enough attention to what was going on around you. Bottom line: you either need to slow down or, get better at anticipating these situations. Darwin Awards are open 24/7.
          Blaming it on SoCal Crazies lets you off the hook too easy since you didn’t characterize the BMW as “driving crazy”.
          PS. Cars don’t “park” at stoplights and other controlled intersections. Not usually anyway. Your description could be interpreted as you having a certain mindset when considering objects in space around you as you move by them. Think a little more. And sign up for that class. It might just save your life.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      This is what the CHP guidelines say “The term lane splitting, sometimes known as lane sharing, filtering or white-lining, refers to the process of a motorcyclist riding between lanes of stopped or slower moving traffic or moving between lanes to the front of traffic stopped at a traffic light.”

  • Sayyed Bashir

    Wouldn’t live in any state that did not have lane sharing. If you have to be stuck behind cars, might as well drive a car so you can eat a hamburger and fries and drink a slurpee while playing with the dial on the radio and enjoying the air conditioning. Even take a nap.

  • Dave Mello

    Hey there, in Massachusetts right now we are also taking a swing at this too!

    Maybe a quick little article could be helpful in reaching a few more people! The AMA is also pitching in on this one too. This link takes you to the website where filling in your information lets you send a pre-filled message to your local representative in support of the bill and is very quick.

    https://cqrcengage.com/amacycle/app/write-a-letter?4&engagementId=310473

  • Dan

    Lane splitting is a godsend here in the Bay Area too, but boy is it mentally exhausting, especially when you’re tired and not really up for it but still need to get somewhere. Even more fun in tunnels!

    • john burns

      When I did it daily, it was like a double espresso after a dull day in the office. Mind-focussing. Why people who ride stay sharper longer.

      • Andy C

        Compared to riding on the city streets, which are also jam packed here in West L.A., it’s a lot less unpredictable. No cross traffic on the 405 N.

        That first photo shows the 405 approaching the 10, and I have a choice whether to take that or the streets home each night. I’ve had too many close calls on the streets. every intersection and driveway is like Mad Max!
        The only hard part is when my offramp is coming up and I look ahead at the crawling zoo of cars and think ” I gotta go through that?”.

  • pcontiman

    Lane splitting, it’s the best. Ditto on the SoCal location for the last 7 years off and on and there is simply no way to get to your destination in a reasonable amount of time without lane splitting. When I’ve got to get to the airport from work around rush hour the only way is to lane split. Flight tonight? I’m taking the sporty to work. No doubt it’s dangerous but that leads to hyper vigilance and some objective moderation of your speed between the cars and things generally turn out all right. Back home in Colorado, you don’t need a helmet to protect your brain but don’t even think about lane sharing ! How dumb is that ?! The studies show that lane splitters are less like to be injured than those that don’t and again I think it’s due to the hyper vigilance you better have when lane splitting. I love being home in Colorado but when I’m sitting in traffic behind some obscenely long line of cars…..I just sigh and think about SoCal…

  • wolzybk

    I spent most of my life in San Diego. About 5 years ago my wife and I moved to New Hampshire. Overall, we’re glad we did, and are much happier here. I don’t even mind the weather. There are exactly two things I miss about CA: lanesplitting, and 24-hr Mexican food.

  • Gianni Zanini

    As an Italian scooter and motorcycle rider transplanted in the US and having lived both in California and Maryland, I wholeheartedly share both the logical and emotional arguments made in this great article. Wish that MD and VA also would make it legal, but until they won’t, lane sharing will still be my normal de facto practice on the always jammed Capital Beltway. And it is actually funny how many of my riding buddies here are “afraid” of endorsing or implementing this practice based on the faulty belief that car drivers around here are worse than drivers in California.

  • GB

    G’day fellow riders. Here in Victoria Australia we FINALLY have legalised lane splitting. I’ve been doing it safely for over 40 years on a whole range of bikes, lately big HD ‘baggers’. WAY safer than staying in traffic and begging for some texting driver to send you flying! Check out the Leuven Study from Belgium around 2011, re motorcycles and traffic ! It proved that motorcycles ARE part of the solution to traffic congestion!

  • Irv Kerry

    I moved from England where i had been riding my whole life, when i got to good ole America NOT being allowed to ride between cars was one reason i never took my motorcycle test. The other reason living in northern Virginia i decided that i would be dead in about a month.
    I don’t understand why they don’t encourage it other than they think it’s dangerous and honestly i believe if motorcyclist started doing it here drivers would pull out to block it, i have seen people do that when drivers scoot down the hard shoulder when in a traffic jam.
    Oh and on another completely subject how about a like or dislike button just so people could give you the thumbs up on a great topic.

  • mikeinkamloops

    Guaranteed, here in Western Canada, lane spitting would be considered cheating, and some not-so polite Canadian (probably in a Dodge RAM) would take out his revenge on that pesky cheat on the motorbike. Yeah, 6000 pounds of bubba and RAM, vs me on my sKooter – we’d need some serious education campaign, because “keep right except to pass” is still a mystery to many here.

  • Paul Russell Laverack

    Well-written and good-humored, as usual. Nice work.

  • Rob Pollock

    Here in the UK we can lane split, or filter as we like to call it, usually without any problems. I suspect the reason it’s outlawed has more to do with jealousy than any safety considerations, some people just don’t like to think someone else is getting ahead of them. As we find it harder to acquire guns, we have to be allowed some fun.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      Most legislators drive cars and do not see the problem from the motorcyclists’ point of view. If the traffic is good enough for cars, why is it not good enough for motorcyclists? Where do they have to go in such a hurry? And since motorcycling is associated with hooliganism, they could not be going anywhere important.

  • therr850

    i think you need to fact check. the AMA has been a supporter of lane splitting for several years and has testified in favor of it in many legislatures and supplied information to groups fighting for legal lane splitting.

  • Craig Hoffman

    It is pretty hard to argue with the fact that drivers in California are pretty terrible. A lot of them are from foreign countries and have no clue whatsoever behind the wheel. Despite that, lane splitting works in CA, riding skill required to execute it well.

    Riding a motorcycle in general, and and being able to lane split in particular, is a last refuge of reward for personal skill at the controls of a vehicle in an overly sanitized for our protection ass gasket everybody gets a trophy world. By God, lane splitting is just plain old school rugged individualistic Americana. 🙂

  • IRS4

    Been lane SHARING (critical distinction, as THAT is what is allowed) daily and safely since 1989. It is the safest way to ride in L.A. traffic. Most crashes are inattentive rear-enders, and you can’t be rear ended “on the paint”. Plus you can see trouble further ahead than from behind a car, SUV, or lorry.

    I don’t think I could live in L.A. without a motorcycle.

  • Staunch_Republican

    Lane Splitting is illegal in my state. However I have seen other bikers do it anyway. But I have to tell you, after watching the idiot antics of lane splitters on YouTube, It wlll never happen with me. I don’t in anyway believe this promotes responsible motorcycling. With my luck all one of these jack asses in a car would have to do is open his car door to total my Voyager. No thanks, you crazies in California can keep your lane splitting.

  • Peter Swinton

    Want stats! A study in Belgium showed that with lane splitting, if 10% of drivers switched to motorcycles, traffic for everyone would improve by 40%.

    http://www.tmleuven.be/project/motorcyclesandcommuting/20110921_Motorfietsen_eindrapport_Eng.pdf

    I agree with all the comments about jealous drivers, so if the laws do change, they need to be accompanied by a strong awareness campaign about safety, motorcycle’s rights and the benefits to everyone.

  • jeff benson

    Lanesplitting in Salt Lake City would be nice but the traffic here is a joke compared to LA or Frisco, which I think is worse than LA. 13 miles from house to work. It’s hardly a bother if it takes me 20 minutes to get to work rather than 15.