After years of law enforcement turning a blind eye towards lane-splitting, and even offering tacit approval, the practice will soon be established in California law.
For decades, California has been the only jurisdiction in the US where lane-splitting (a.k.a. “filtering”) is common. In other words, motorcyclists are allowed to ride between lines of cars on the street, and to ride ahead to the front of the line at stops. While this is common practice around the rest of the world, traffic legislators in the US and Canada have long frowned on the practice, and in jurisdictions without clear laws against the practice, police are often happy to issue tickets anyway.
But despite lane-splitting’s popularity in The Golden State, motorcyclists have been concerned lawmakers would mobilize to legislate against the practice. When the public found out the State Assembly had decided to address the issue, many riders were afraid they’d just see a ban on lane-splitting. Such has not been the case, however, and now California’s State Assembly has passed a bill asking the highway patrol to establish guidelines for lane-splitting. In other words, the state government is officially okay with it.
So what next? The California Highway Patrol’s moves could end up influencing policy in much of the rest of the US; motorcyclists across the country are starting to petition their leaders to allow lane-splitting (Washington and Oregon both recently looked at the issue). If the practice is given legal guidelines in California, it may make other jurisdictions look at the practice more closely.
And what about Canada? For now, as far as we know, nobody’s putting any serious work into bringing lane-splitting forward, even in major cities where it would reduce gridlock. Nobody, except for us, of course; we’re still telling people it’s time to move ahead and legalize this practice, getting in line with the rest of the world.