Lane-splitting has been formally legal in California since Governor Jerry “Moonbeam” Brown signed A.B. 51 into law in 2016; before that, it just wasn’t illegal, and so we all just did it without giving it much thought – much like what most riders around the rest of the world do. But most assuredly not in the other 49 states, where lane-splitting can seem to be construed as invading somebody’s space and is liable to get you shot. Since passage of the bill two years ago, we’ve been eagerly waiting for (ok, not really) the California Highway Patrol to release its official guidelines on lane-splitting. Thursday, they did, and here they are.

Safety tips for motorcyclists include:

  • Consider the total environment when you are lane splitting. This includes the width of lanes, the size of surrounding vehicles and current roadway, weather and lighting conditions.
  • Danger increases at higher speed differentials (the difference between the speed of the motorcyclist and that of nearby vehicles).
  • Danger increases as overall speed increases.
  • It is typically safer to split between the far left lanes than between other lanes of traffic.
  • Avoid lane splitting next to large vehicles (big rigs, buses, motorhomes, etc.).
  • Riding on the shoulder is illegal and is not considered lane splitting.
  • Be visible. Avoid remaining in the blind spots of other vehicles or lingering between vehicles.
  • Help drivers see you by wearing brightly colored/reflective protective gear and using high beams during daylight.

Messages for other vehicle drivers include:

  • Lane splitting by motorcyclists is legal in California.
  • Intentionally blocking or impeding a motorcyclist is illegal.
  • Opening a vehicle door to impede a motorcyclist is illegal.
  • Drivers in the far left lane should move to the left of their lane to give motorcyclists ample room to pass.

CHP safety tips for all motorists include:

  • Check mirrors and blind spots, especially before changing lanes or turning.
  • Signal your intentions before changing lanes or merging with traffic.
  • Be alert and anticipate possible movements by other motorists.
  • Never ride or drive while impaired by drugs, alcohol or fatigue.
  • Be courteous and share the road.

The CHP warns that splitting lanes can be dangerous and should not be performed by inexperienced riders.

Download the CHP document here: CHP Lane Splitting Tips

There’s no mention of an author, but it may well have been Captain Obvious, and we admire his ability to get paid for this work. At least, though, we have codified that lane-splitting is legal, and that it’s illegal to intentionally block or impede a motorcyclist. We like that part. Even with all the Golden State’s scenic splendor and great riding, lane-splitting is a big reason why Cali’s the #1 state for riding motorcycles.