In recent months, the passage of a bill legalizing lane splitting in California has gotten a lot of press. We believe the legislation is a good thing (Gabe’s opinion, notwithstanding). However, even in states where the practice is not legal, riders should position themselves such that they can take advantage of the space between vehicles at a stop. No cop is going to cite a rider who jumps between stopped traffic to avoid becoming a minivan sandwich.

Lane Splitting Now Officially Legal In California

Take a look at the photo above. The riders have divided the lane into three pieces to illustrate how much room is available within a lane. Ideally when coming to a stop, a rider will end up on the outside thirds of the lane in traffic. This gives those with cat-like reflexes the chance to get out of the way when skidding tires are heard approaching from behind. If the rider doesn’t get out of the way, at least the impact stands a better chance of tossing him/her between the rows of cars instead of the bumper directly in front of the motorcycle. Additionally, this placement keeps the motorcycle’s tires off of the potentially slippery center of the lane where cars tend to drip oil and air conditioner condensation – a potentially dangerous mix even in dry weather.

If you need a more graphic example of what can happen with the wrong lane placement, take a look at the video below. Fortunately, the rider appears to be okay.

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  • Born to Ride

    Great article. This technique should be practiced at all times. I always get bewildered looks from non-riders when I tell them the safest place to be is in between cars. Maybe I’ll use that video in the future to illustrate.

  • HazardtoMyself

    It never ceases to amaze me the amount of riders I see park themselves with their front tire right up in the middle of the bumper at stop.

    Lane splitting or not, you need to be able to get out of the way. Hell, the last time I was “talked to” about illegal lane splitting I had pulled up right next to an unmarked police car. Couldn’t see him well with as far back as I was.

    Cop said, you do know that is not legal here right? I said the guy behind me was coming up way to fast and appeared to be on a cell phone. I just said I was moving out of the way to avoid getting hit. Instead of getting pulled over, I was just told to be careful.

    • Old MOron

      Good answer.

  • JMDonald

    I almost always stay in first gear. Just in case.

    • Bananapants Ficklefart

      me too, MSF course still in my head. My luck though, I’d bump up and then get hit by crossroad traffic.

      When it comes to sudden stops on previous moving highways, I’ll pull up a little between the two cars directly in front of me just to use them as brackets. I won’t pull through. Kind of a half-assed lane split while sitting around.

  • D H

    Lane splitting is a necessity, thanks god is legal in California.

  • Old MOron

    I still don’t like that we have (or will have) lane-splitting guidelines. Gabe was right!
    And if the PTB use this law to impinge on our lane-splitting, Surj Gish had better hide his pompous ass from the rest of the biker world.

  • Old MOron

    Darn it. I briefly considered that the lead photo could portend of a soon-to-be published electro shootout. But a quick google search disabused me of that hope.

  • notfishing

    3 only with skinny riders on skinny bikes. Wide bikes like my Griso and the odd Harley Bagger fill the lane with just the two of us.

    • Evans Brasfield

      I think you’re missing the point of the photo. It is only to illustrate how much room there is in the lane, or to put it differently, it is a graphic representation of the three sections the lane can be divided into. A Griso and a Harley bagger, when side-by-side, would each be in the outer thirds of the lane as I suggested.

      • notfishing

        Actually I practice your point every day on my commute by moving to the right 1/2 of the lane so that lane splitters can come up beside me, especially at stoplights. Most of them are considerate and allow me to move out first from the light. The Griso is very quick off the line. Still I noticed a fair number of Harley Baggers sporting apes that need at least 1/2 the lane. As to outer third, well I have a fear of two ton pickups both beside me and oncoming so I like a little more room.

  • bezerkus

    Big jump from traffic positioning and the kind of unsafe lane splitting that takes place in California.

  • HoleshotHunter

    I ride the white lines all of the time, especially at stops. Several times cars ran the red light ans brushed by my jacket. If I had been playing the nail between the hammer and the anvil like this fool, I wouldn’t have 946,000 accident free miles. I pull up to the front o the white line, then stop. I have heard that sickening crunch of hammer and anvil many times, especially on freeways. Never stop in the back of stopped traffic.