Warmer weather means the motorcycles are starting to come out of their garage hibernation in California. And that means drivers in cars need to pay extra attention to their side view mirrors.

If you have driven in the state you have probably had a motorcycle zip past you on the highway during a traffic jam or pull up next to you between the lanes at a light.

Is Motorcycle Lane Splitting Legal in California?

Not everyone likes it, and it can give you a jump scare if you aren’t paying attention, but lane filtering and lane splitting by motorcycles are legal in California. A few other states allow a form of lane filtering with restrictions, but California is the only state that allows lane splitting.

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The lane splitting law, AB 51, was passed in 2016 in California and an updated safety tips sheet was released in 2018 to help motorists and motorcyclists to better understand and utilize lane splitting.

While California law allows motorcyclists to lane split and filter it does not give them the freedom to do so in all situations or however they want. Motorcyclists must still obey speed limits and other road rules and CHP officers can use discretion to determine if lane splitting was appropriate when conducting a traffic stop.

What is the Difference in Lane Split and Filter in California

Lane splitting and filtering are used interchangeably sometimes and they are similar, but the difference comes down to the speed of traffic. Lane splitting happens when a motorcycle cuts between cars traveling in the same direction and filtering happens when the motorcycle cuts between cars that are stopped.

Credit TwistedRoad
Credit TwistedRoad

California allows both, but other states like Utah and Montana only allow lane filtering on city streets, never on the highway.

Safety Tips for Lane Splitting in California

The list of safety tips from the CHP includes information for drivers of motorcycles and how other drivers should behave. Some key points are:

  • Lane splitting by motorcyclists is legal in California.
  • It is typically safer to split between the far left lanes than between the other lanes of traffic.
  • Riding on the shoulder is illegal; it is not considered lane splitting.
  • Intentionally blocking or impeding a motorcyclist in a way that could cause harm to the rider 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.

If you drive in California, you will get passed by motorcycles. You may feel you need to teach them a lesson or that passing you is unfair and cheating - but you are wrong. If you are jealous, get your own bike but don’t be mean.

Top 4 Motorcycle Gangs in Washington, Oregon, and California

Recently, the FBI launched a nationwide crackdown on motorcycle biker gangs. Their presence in the Pacific Northwest remains a major concern for local law enforcement officials, too.

Gallery Credit: Reesha Cosby

Plenty of Babes and Bikinis At the 2020 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

KLAQ had a man on the ground at Sturgis who sent us daily photo updates and it looks like the pandemic hasn't stopped many the people from partying.

Check out the photos below and imagine you're right there in the middle of all the action.

Well, maybe not the spitting contest, unless you're into that sort of thing.

Gallery Credit: KLAQ

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