California

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Current California Lanesharing information.

Q: Can motorcycle riders “split” lanes and ride between other vehicles?

A: Lane splitting by motorcycles is permissible but must be done in a safe and prudent manner. source:
California Highway Patrol ‘Answers’

 

When it comes to lane-sharing in North America, California is Mecca. In fact, if you want to get anywhere on a motorcycle in the Los Angeles basin, avoiding lane-sharing is not an option. The practice of lane-sharing has been allowed for decades. Yet, contrary to popular belief, there is no California statute permitting the practice. On the other hand, there’s no law stating you can’t lane-share. In other words, lane-sharing is not legal, but rather not illegal in the Golden State.

Perhaps a matter of semantics for some, this is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it allows some flexibility in the use of lane-sharing. On the other hand, it leaves it up to the discretion of the Law Enforcement Officer (LEO) and his/her opinion whether your brand of lane-sharing is “reasonable and prudent“.

The generally “understood” guidelines seem to be:

  • Travel no faster than 10 mph faster than the vehicles you’re lane-sharing with.
  • Merge back in with the traffic when they reach 30-35 mph.
  • Never exceed the speed limit.
  • Lane-sharing between lanes #1 and #2 is preferred. (#1 being the “fast” or “inside” lane)
  • Stay, more or less, in one lane or the other. Excessive meandering might get you cited. (CA code 21658)
  • Ride carefully to not cause damage to other vehicles.

 

Add to this a few other pointers:

  • Be a competent rider before attempting the practice.
  • Be prepared to adjust your speed as necessary.
  • Cover your brake and clutch to reduce reaction time.
  • Avoid lane-sharing between two large trucks.
  • Be wary of open spaces inviting a vehicle to change lanes.
  • Be vigilant of other vehicle operator’s head movements indicative of an impending lane change.
  • Check your mirrors and be prepared to move over for overtaking motorcycles behind you.
  • When in doubt, wait for a CHP motor patrol officer and follow him/her. (You might have to travel a bit faster than 10mph to keep up.)

 

When an incident occurs between the lane-sharing motorcyclist and another vehicle, it’s not always the motorcyclist who gets cited. It’s up to the LEO to decide who was at fault (back to the double-edged sword). For instance, if the lane-changing vehicle didn’t signal the change properly, that operator could be cited for violating CA code 22107. On the other hand, if the motorcyclist was deemed to be traveling at too great a speed for the situation, CA code 22350 would be used to cite the rider.

 

California laws used to govern lane-sharing:

California code 22350

No person shall drive a vehicle upon a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable or prudent having due regard for weather, visibility, the traffic on, and the surface and width of, the highway, and in no event at a speed which endangers the safety of persons or property.

California code 21658

Whenever any roadway has been divided into two or more clearly marked lanes for traffic in one direction, the following rules apply:

  • (a) A vehicle shall be driven as nearly as practical entirely within a single lane and shall not be moved from the lane until such movement can be made with reasonable safety.
  • (b) Official signs may be erected directing slow-moving traffic to use a designated lane or allocating specified lanes to traffic moving in the same direction, and drivers of vehicles shall obey the directions of the traffic device.

California code 22107

No person shall turn a vehicle from a direct course or move right or left upon a roadway until such movement can be made with reasonable safety and then only after the giving of an appropriate signal in the manner provided in this chapter in the event any other vehicle may be affected by the movement.

 

Q: Can motorcycle riders filter lanes on single-lane roads?

A: Filtering is preferred between two lanes of traffic flowing in the same direction. For single-lane roads, use the right side of the lane – away from oncoming cars.

 

Q: Can motorcycle riders use the shoulder?

A: Shoulder riding is strictly prohibited.

 

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