Riding a motorcycle between lanes is legal in California (lane splitting)

If you drive a car or truck in California, please read the following:

Lane splitting (motorcycles driving in the space between traffic lanes on public roads and freeways) is legal in the state of California. CHP recently stated very clearly that —just as it is expected from motorcyclists to lane-split responsibly— drivers of cars and trucks have responsibilities too. It’s illegal to intentionally block or impede a motorcyclist from lane splitting, including by opening a vehicle door. CHP also says that vehicles in the far-left lane should move to the left part of the lane so motorcycles have room to pass on their right safely.

Lane Splitting in California

The new CHP guidelines also include the following tips:
  • 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.

Motorcycle safety studies have concluded that lane splitting, though unnerving to some drivers and apprentice motorcyclists, is safer than not splitting when done intelligently — principally because it reduces the risk of a rider being hit from behind while stopped in traffic. It also improves the flow of traffic on the road as motorcycles that lane-split are freeing up vehicle spots on the main lanes.

Please, help us keep a safe and harmonious road experience by sharing the road between cars and motorcycles respectfully. Most of us riders just want to get from point A to point B safely and, at the end of the day, go back to our beloved families in one piece.

Note: California is the only U.S. state that allows lane splitting, though the practice is legal and common in most European and Asian countries.

About the author

I am a graphic designer, a linguist, a software developer and a marketer — in no particular order. I am also an avid motorcyclist who's extremely concerned about coming back home in one piece after each ride and spreading the word of safe riding habits among my fellow motorcyclists.
The ideas and opinions expressed here are my own and may not reflect the philosophies of the organizations to which I belong.
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