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Discussion Starter #1
Sacramento Bee - Page B2

While I agree that lane splitting can be done safely and should remain legal. I also agree that abuse of this legal loophole - splitting unsafely, too fast, weaving in and out should be enforced much more vigorously. Just as any type of reckless driving (talking on cell phones, etc.) should be enforced.

Thoughts?
 

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Any way for us to see the article?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
dshealey said:
Any way for us to see the article?
You would have to go to www.sacbee.com and register. Outside of that I would have to plagiarize by cutting and pasting.
 

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John,

I think it's okay to copy/paste an article as long as the contents of the article are easily discerned from other parts of a post and the source is quoted (w/ at least a link to the homepage of the site if direct link cannot be posted).

Here are the relevant guidelines from the APA (and general rules here for URLs).
 

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Text of the Sac Bee "Sharing Lane Space" article

dshealey said:
Any way for us to see the article?
Back-seat driver: Drivers, motorcyclists split on sharing lane space

By Tony Bizjak -- Bee Staff Writer

Published 2:15 am PDT Monday, October 10, 2005

Story appeared in Metro section, Page B2



"Lane splitting," where motorcyclists straddle lane lines to pass cars in traffic, is one hot topic.

We wrote last week that lane splitting is allowed in California and immediately we were overrun with more than 50 e-mails and calls.

Plenty of car drivers were upset the CHP doesn't do anything about motorcyclists sliding into their blind spots with just inches between their car and the car in the next lane.

"If anyone were to put it to a vote, I have no doubt people would vote to outlaw it. Overwhelmingly," Lincoln resident Ralph Pease wrote.

Motorcyclists counter there are worse dangers, such as cars changing lanes without signaling.

"There is no safety issue if done correctly by a capable rider," Steve Martinez wrote. "Those who don't like lane splitting are jealous because they are stuck in crummy California traffic."

Motorcycle commuter Kurt Sunderbruch points out lane splitting allows cyclists to avoid being rear-ended. "An impact that might give an auto driver a sore neck can cripple or kill me."

Surprisingly, California may be the only state that allows lane splitting. Transportation safety officials and motorcyclists we talked to say they aren't aware of any other state that permits it.

Nevada law, for instance, reads: "A person, except a police officer ... shall not drive a motorcycle or moped between moving or stationary vehicles occupying adjacent traffic lanes."

The California DMV Motorcycle Handbook warns: "Riding between rows of stopped or moving cars in the same lane can leave you vulnerable."

How vulnerable? We know this much: Two weeks ago, a motorcyclist was killed on Watt Avenue while lane splitting. He clipped a big rig and fell under the big rig in the next lane.

And last week, a motorcyclist was seriously injured on Hazel Avenue, California Highway Patrol officials said, when he hit a bus while lane-splitting cars that had stopped for the bus.

But the CHP doesn't keep statistics on lane splitting. And federal highway safety officials and insurance industry safety researchers say they know of no studies focused on the topic.

A motorcyclist suggested checking with private researcher Harry Hurt in Southern California. Hurt told us he holds the scientific position that lane splitting cannot cause accidents because it merely refers to the place on the road the motorcyclist is traveling. Instead, his studies indicate most crashes are caused by car drivers not seeing motorcyclists.

But several motorcyclists told us they aren't comfortable lane splitting for just that reason: It puts them in spots where some motorists won't see them.

Some readers argued that vehicle code sections 21658(a) and 22350 allow officers to ticket lane splitters, if they choose to.

VC 21658(a)reads: "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."

VC 22350 states: "No person shall drive a vehicle upon a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable or prudent ..."

But local CHP spokesman Max Hartley says 21658(a) allows officers to stop lane splitters only if they force a driver to take evasive action. Section 22350 does, however, influence the CHP's "unwritten" lane-splitting rule: If you go more than 10 mph faster than the cars, the CHP might ticket you.

We see another reason the CHP may not mind lane splitting. Its motorcycle officers do it themselves when responding to calls. That's one of the reasons they use motorcycles in urban areas.

Clearly, lane splitting poses dangers. Two serious Sacramento accidents in two weeks make that point. But a lot of things on the road pose dangers. Cell phone use, for one. A solid study homing in on lane-splitting crashes in California would be instructive.

 

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Thanks!

Having lane split nearly every day for over 4 years here in SoCal, I was interested in what the article had to say.

One problem with the CHP's unwritten guidelines is just that they are unwritten.

I have spoken to three different CHP officers about it, two of them that spoke at our local BMW club meetings, and one (a CHP Motorcycle training officer) that spoke at the club's "Octoberfest" Rally 4 years back. Although there were some differences in what they said, I gathered that the "average" of what they said was that they would not stop a lane splitter as long as he was doing it prudently, and not more than 15 MPH faster than the slowest lane being passed, and only up to about 40-45 MPH motorcycle speed. Anything else, and you are ripe for the picking.

Unfortunately though, the San Diego Police Department has other ideas, and since their motor officers are not allowed to lane split, they will not allow anyone else to do so either. They can stop you on state highways that are inside the San Diego city limits, even though the primary law enforcement there is the CHP, who allows it. That is something that should not be allowed, a lower agency overiding the higher one.

I have always said that if this ever comes up as a voting issue, we will loose it.
 

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A good article on "lane sharing" (bold added by me)

Lane Splitting: Tear Along Dotted Line

Think passing cars between is reckless and inconsiderate? We beg to disagree. But there are some things to know before you start. By Art Friedman.

I had called USC's Accident Research Department to talk to Dave Thom about helmets, but Harry Hurt answered the phone. Hurt, the lead author of the famous "Hurt Report" about the causes of motorcycle accidents, is arguably the most knowledgeable expert in the area of motorcycle safety and always fascinating to talk to.

Today, however, the news wasn't pleasant. Hurt had been rear-ended and had required surgery on his neck. His brand new truck suffered major damage too. "The stupid part," said Hurt, "was that if I'd been on a motorcycle, I wouldn't have had the accident. I would have split lanes and never gotten hit."

Everyone recognizes that lane-splitting is a way for motorcyclists to save time, which may be why car-bound motorists sometimes resent it. In its defense, lane-splitting also reduces congestion and actually helps everyone get there sooner. In effect, it creates an extra lane. That "motorcycle-only lane" can, as Hurt points out, get you away from the antics of cars, which tend to be most violent at the back of the line. I was originally a reluctant lane-splitter myself, but after diving between lanes to escape screeching cars coming up behind me three times in a single ride, I decided that perhaps there was a cosmic message in there somewhere. That was 25 years ago, and I have been lane-splitting, mostly on a non-emergency basis, almost every day since.

The knee-jerk reaction to lane-splitting for most people is that it's dangerous. In fact, Hurt and his fellow researchers discovered that, if anything, it's actually slightly safer than staying in the lane in heavy, crawling traffic. Hurt theorizes that this is because motorcyclists have an easier time steering around threats than stopping frequently.
Evans Brafield, Motorcycle Cruiser's Associate Editor and an instructor for the California Motorcycle Safety Program California Motorcycle Safety Program, reckons that the ability the see ahead and get early warning of what traffic is doing is part of the advantage. Certainly, you put virtually all the threats ahead of you and needn't watch your mirrors much.

At Motorcycle Cruiser and our sister magazines,
Motorcyclist magazine and Sport Rider magazine, lane-splitting is a way of life. Here in Southern California, rational lane-splitting is tolerated by law enforcement, and the CHP actually testified against a bill that would have banned it several years ago. In a quarter-century of SoCal commuting, I reckon I have reduced the time I have spent in traffic by months, and I can't recall a single close call while doing it. In fact, I haven't ticked more than half a dozen mirrors in that time. In the last few years, the growing availability of carpool lanes has reduced the need to lane-split on freeways, but increased congestion on surface streets has made it more useful there.

The dangers involved in lane splitting are the close proximity of other vehicles, the limited space for maneuvering and the fact that few drivers anticipate your presence. My standard visibility ploys--headlight on high beam during the day and a day-glow orange Shoei helmet--serve me well lane-splitting as in other traffic situations, but the key to painless lane-splitting is understanding the dynamics of the cars around you and knowing what to expect. For example, though you may feel more squeezed when passing between two vehicles side by side, you are more likely to get bunted when overtaking a car that has an open space next to it, especially if the lane on the other side of you is moving significantly faster. If the driver tries to jump to that space, he may forget to check for you. Whether lane-splitting or not, use caution when riding through the blind spot of a driver when you are between him and a place he is likely to want to put his car.

Other pointers:

- You should be alert and ready to concentrate fully on the matter at hand.

- Enter the lane-splitting zone cautiously. Wait until both lanes are slowed down, so that you aren't being overtaken by a car in the adjacent lane. You may be starting from a slow speed, so your bike won't be completely stabilized, and you don't want to weave into an overtaking car.

- The most dicey time is when traffic is slowing down. Some cars pull under braking and some drivers choose this moment to jump to another lane. If one lane is slowing more than the other, the likelihood of a lane-jumper increases. If the lane next to the one you are using is going faster, entering the lane-splitting zone may put you in the path or an overtaking car that isn't expecting it. I like to wait until both lanes are moving at similar speeds.

- Keep your speed just slightly above that of the cars you are passing. A large speed differential reduces your chances of avoiding a collision when something goes awry. However, you should also be overtaking traffic, so that you can focus exclusively on what's ahead and next to you. This puts you in control of the situation.

- Set a maximum speed for lane-splitting and stick to it. When traffic hits about 30 mph, I get back in line.

- When traffic speed picks up, try to merge back in front of the last car that you will completely pass at normal lane-splitting speeds. Plan ahead to be sure you don't get stuck behind a large vehicle that you can't see past.

- Watch for other motorcyclists overtaking and let them by.

- Acknowledge drivers who move over for you, but don't get mad when someone overlooks you.

- Look for those subtle first signs of a direction change by drivers -- a change in speed, the glance to a mirror, the repositioning of hands on the wheel, the car's front wheel actually beginning to steer. If you look ahead and watch for events that will slow one lane down, you can usually anticipate when driver will want to change lanes.

- As always, stay ahead of the game. Keep your eyes up the road, several cars ahead of you to see those first signs of a change in speed, debris on the road or other event that changes the speed or direction of traffic.

- If you come to a place where two vehicles are uncomfortably close together, bide your time and wait for an opportunity to pass them safely.

- Don't hesitate to honk if the cars next to you get uncomfortably close together. It will probably annoy them less than if you snap off one of their mirrors or bang your head on one of their rear fenders.

- The gap between the two left lanes is usually the largest and most consistent because drivers in the left lane, with no traffic to their left, move well to the left to see ahead and to open the gap on their right side.

- Watch for abrupt changes when another roadway merges with either of the lanes you're between.

Cruisers have some advantages as lane-splitting weapons. The sit-up riding position offers a good view over cars. The torquey power characteristics provide good response, though you shouldn't let revs drop too far. There are negatives, too. Cars are widest at their mirrors, which, unfortunately, are often about the same height as cruiser handlebars and mirrors. Ultra-wide bars like those of the Vulcan 1600 Classic limit the gaps you can traverse. In fact, if you split lanes regularly, a narrow bar (or sawing an inch off each end of the stockers) is a good idea. The best lane-splitting weapons are dual-purpose bikes because they are narrow and you sit quite high.

I have heard some lane-splitting horror stories over the years: the rider who hooked a crash bar on a car bumper (unconfirmed), the riders who have had doors flung open in front of them either intentionally or unintentionally (at least one confirmed) and the rider who split lanes alongside a big rig which wasn't aware of him and then crept forward, first pushing the bike over (rider and passenger jumped off) and then running it over without ever knowing it. I have only encountered one driver intent on keeping me from passing ("Kick his damn door in!" was the unheeded advice shouted by a nearby trucker), but thousands who have pulled over to give me extra room. There are also tales of non-injury encounters with drivers disposing of coffee, over-filled ashtrays or the contents of an upset stomach, but I haven't encountered anything worse than the stuff people sometimes throw in your face even when you're in the middle of your lane.

And I spend a lot less time out there in path of danger or trash when I'm tearing along the dotted line.

Art Friedman

If you have questions or comments about this article, email the author at
[email protected] or at [email protected].

 

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DaveDragon said:
In a way I wish it was legal here but can you imagine the number of additional MC deaths this would cause?
Most drivers in Florida don't use turn signals and most of those that do use them don't look before changing lanes.
Howdy Dave,

I would imagine that the M/C accident rate would rise measurably during the "learning curve" that the vehicle operators would have to go through. I don't think the fatality rate would climb in a statistically significant way. Lane splitting is done at relatively low speeds and injury short of death the most likely outcome.

On the Florida drivers not using turn signals, they can't be any worse than California drivers. :eek: Regardless, signals are nice, but I never rely on the driver "intentionally" telling what they're going to do. Watch them in their mirrors, watch their front wheels, observe if there is an open space next to them they might want to dart into, in short... try to read their minds:rolleyes: it's a short story ;)
 

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This is fascinating information. I spend a great deal of time commuting in lane 1.5 and get an adrenalin rush from it.

Some days I feel lucky and some days I don't. When I don't I tend to ratchet back my speed and increase my clearances. Other days I take it to the limit, the speed limit that is, which is where the law draws an absolute line. Less than the speed limit is a judgement call by the observing LEO. All that speculation about unwritten rules like 15mph faster, etc. is just that, speculation.

I don't split on local roads since, as in San Diego, many local jurisdictions prohibit their own officers from splitting and they'll be damned if they'll let me split if they can't!

IMHO: the key to this splitting thing is to acknowledge those drivers that move over, don't get upset by those that don't and don't make it look like you're reckless (e.g. weaving between lanes). If all motorcyclists behaved this way our greatest risk in California, that it will someday be outlawed, will not come to pass.
 

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ltcommuter said:
. All that speculation about unwritten rules like 15mph faster, etc. is just that, speculation.
.
Actually to me it is NOT speculation, as this has been reinforced by THREE different CHP officers speaking publicly to groups I was in, one of them a CHP motorcycle training officer. All three had generally the same thing to say, with only minor differences. That leads me to believe that the CHP does have "unwritten" basic rules that are diseminated to the officers.

The training officer went as far to say that even if a rider does not wish to lane split normally they should at least split up 2-3 cars when coming up on a line of stopped traffic.

You are absolutely right about local police officers not bending to the CHP's written statements about the permissibility of lane splitting though. I did not do it on any San Diego surface street, only freeways, and even then if the freeway is inside San Diego city limits you are at risk with the SDPD.
 

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As always..I just don't know when to keep my mouth shut :D I've read through this thread and just find it hard to believe that someone would conclude that lane splitting is SAFE, or Safer than not. It reminds me of the people who "Don't believe in Seat belts", because they had a cousin who knew a guy who drowned when his car overturned into a creek and he couldn't get out of the seat belt. Even if it's true, the odds are much higher that if your involved in an accident, a seat belt will be beneficial. Same with Lane splitting, odds are that if you practice lane splitting, you're putting yourself at higher risk than if you don't. The only benefit to non emergency responders, it a speedier commute through traffic..while incurring greater risk of injury. Obviously, many feel the risk is worth getting there faster. With that said, It doesn't bother me one way or another. But if the baby's ugly...... :eek:


By the way...No official study or proof to back up the "ODDS", just common sense. Feel free to tar and feather at will!

I got to get back to work... to much time on my hands! What time does Oprah come on????
 

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I know I felt MUCH safer lane splitting in stop and go traffic than sandwiched between cars in a lane in states where lane splitting was not allowed. Also, you can see the road surface well in front of you, where in a lane behind cars you can come up on a bad surface (pot hole, oil, debris, etc.) before you can safely react, unless you are leaving sufficient distance, in which case a car will pull into it anyway.

I tried to always track behind the wheels of cars in areas where I could not ride far enough to the right to see up the road by the car, hoping they would not ride over a problem area, where they would easily straddle it and leave you to hit it.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
No Tar and Feather but your response reminds me of all that population that believes that Motorcycling in general is not Safe and cannot be safe..........
Or I can't believe you wear a flip up Helmet, there not as safe as a full face. Or how can you ride short gloves when long ones are safer. Or or or - you get the point.

BTW - If you have never been rear ended at the end of a traffic jam or stop light. Or have never seen it happen - I can understand why you don't want to Lane Share (split lanes) but it won't help if it happens. :eek:


With that said - I would never recommend anyone riding in a manner they don't feel safe with - You have to ride your own ride.
Be safe and keep your eye's in the mirrors at stops.
 

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WPNorton said:
I've read through this thread and just find it hard to believe that someone would conclude that lane splitting is SAFE, or Safer than not. It reminds me of the people who "Don't believe in Seat belts", because they had a cousin who knew a guy who drowned when his car overturned into a creek and he couldn't get out of the seat belt. Even if it's true, the odds are much higher that if your involved in an accident, a seat belt will be beneficial. Same with Lane splitting, odds are that if you practice lane splitting, you're putting yourself at higher risk than if you don't. The only benefit to non emergency responders, it a speedier commute through traffic..while incurring greater risk of injury. Obviously, many feel the risk is worth getting there faster. With that said, It doesn't bother me one way or another. But if the baby's ugly...... :eek:
Howdy Wayne,

My goodness are you are in a feisty mood this week ;)

The "relative" safety argument is a bit more than anectodal. Harry Hurt is the definitive motorcycle accident research authority in the U.S.. If he says that lane splitting is "marginally" safer than not lane splitting, that's a bit more than an anecdotal reference.

I concur with John in regards to riding one's own ride. Under the conditions that you are in at the time, if you don't believe it is safer to split lanes than to not split lanes, then don't do it. Those of us that have not sworn off lane splitting, still limit it to times when we believe it relatively safer to do so than not to.

I get "nervous as a cat in room full of rocking chairs" when I'm in thick, stop and go, traffic and the drivers of all the F-350's around me are talking on their cell phones. I'd rather scoot my butt out from there as quickly as possible than take a chance on them failing to stop, or pull into my lane because they didn't see me, or, or, or... But, that's my philosophy and I don't advocate to others unless they're comfortable with it.

PS: I believe in seat belts in cages.

WPNorton said:
By the way...No official study or proof to back up the "ODDS", just common sense. Feel free to tar and feather at will!
No tar and feathering from me.

You did mention common sense though. I would argue that, as you mentioned, scooting through traffic is quicker, that less time in traffic is less opportunity to get hit. If a car is stopped and the wheels are straight the car will not move laterally. So going between two cars that are stopped is far safer than sitting in front of a car that can come forward with a stab of the gas peddle, or failure to press the brake, when I've got a stopped car in front of me.

Notice I'm not saying "safe", for me it is "safer".


.
 

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amarider said:
BTW - If you have never been rear ended at the end of a traffic jam or stop light. Or have never seen it happen - I can understand why you don't want to Lane Share (split lanes) but it won't help if it happens.
As someone who's been rear-ended at the end of a line of traffic, which totalled my LT and damn near totaled me and my wife, I'm a big fan of lane splitting. I rarely will sit at the end of a line of traffic anymore.

Also, traffic has gotten so bad on my commute in the morning (highway 85 from South San Jose to Sunnyvale) I have to split the HOV lane because it's only moving 15-20 mph for several miles. 2 days last weekend this morning I had to split the HOV lane for 14 of my 25 mile commute due to backed up traffic!:eek:
 

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WPNorton said:
The only benefit to non emergency responders, it a speedier commute through traffic..while incurring greater risk of injury. Obviously, many feel the risk is worth getting there faster. With that said, It doesn't bother me one way or another. But if the baby's ugly...... :eek:
Well Wayne, let me put it this way...

It takes 0:45 from my house to my office with NO traffic.
It takes 1:45 to 2:15 in commute traffic in a car.
It takes 1:00 in commute traffic on my LT lane splitting.

How much risk is your time worth?

Everyone has a different tolerance for risk. Mine is high. Sometimes I lose but usually I come out ahead... literally!

OK, now I've gone and jinxed it! I better be special careful until the jinx wears off. How long ya reckon that'll take? :confused:
 

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Hey...I'm proud of you guys. You managed to have a healthy debate without getting ugly :) . I can see your point...errr...Points... I was thinking about the rear ending issue while on a ride to Concord today. I personally have been rear-ended 4 times. Once on a motorcycle (not the LT). My rear tire left a skid mark on the guys hood, but I didn't drop the bike by some freaky miracle and I wasn't hurt. The drunk who hit me wasn't feeling any pain either. As I was thinking of all the times I've been hit from behind, I realized that I've never ended up wheels up in a creek....so my analogy with seat-belts might have been a little skewed.

However....Lane splitting or sharing would not have prevented my specific M/C rear-ending, but I can see how it would prevent most other rear-ending situations. I guess if you feel like it's worth the risk, then go for it. I just can't help thinking that some idiot's about to open a door to dump his cold coffee or ashtray. :eek: If I live through my rear-ending while sitting in traffic, I might have a change of heart. (Or if I had to sit in traffic for an extra hour and a half each way) Very informative thread.

I used the word rear-ending 4 times above......reads like a porn novel! :cool:
 

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Lane Splitting

Lane splitting is perfectly legal, at REASONABLE speeds. San Diego PD will lose in court, unless they can prove the motorcyclist was passing unsafely.

Now, understand, if you are lane splitting and are involved in a collision, the majority of time the motorcyclist will be at fault. It is somewhat hazerdous. I lane split, and I take that risk of being involved in a collision and being at fault. The majority of the people complain about commute traffic. Now imagine with all the motorcyclists who would have to stay in traffic if lane splitting were illegal.

When I lane split, I wave at people who give me extra room. I hate to say it, but when I drive (ride) on freeways, I see alot of Harley riders and sportbike riders blasting through traffic. These type of riders (reckless) ruin it for the majority of the motorcyclists.

As for people who say we (CHP) don't do enough, it's pretty much impossible, unless the officer is on a motor. If I'm in my unit, reckless motorcyclists who blow past me in heavy traffic, know that I can't chase after them.

Mike Ericson
2005 BMW R1200GS
2003 Kawasaki KLR650
1977 Yamaha RD400
1976 Yamaha RD400
 

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nelson61 said:
For you Bob ..a smoke or two :)
Jinx OFF! Game ON!

Cheers!
 
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