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All the info you need on lanesharing (lanesplitting)

I know, I know, we have been over this topic 100,000,001 times (actually that would be a conservative estimate), but apparently, there are people getting their training wheels off each day and fresh n00bs are entering the pond on a regular basis. So, I got this PM and I figured I'd go ahead and start a DEFINITIVE LANSHARING thread in this forum where we can link all of the facts, rumors, innuendo, the MY BROTHER TOLD ME stories and such.

Please, please try to keep this thread on the topic of lanesharing (for those that missed it, I have stopped referring to it as splitting and anyplace you see splitting referenced, it is a quote, and not from me, or it is out of habit and I slipped up) as I am hoping we can try to keep this topic and the legalities involved all in one neat little basket for reference and those that stumble upon the LEO forum looking for "just the facts" so we don't have to re-invent the wheel

For those that don't know, I am a huge proponent of lanesharing and it is worth noting that some states that have previously BANNED the practice are now considering making it LEGAL to help relieve heavy traffic and congestion, meanwhile one P.O.S. CA legislator is trying to outlaw it here (see link below).

That said, here we go!

Undisclosed Author wrote on 03-06-2006 06:48 PM:
Hey bud,
I was wondering if you could help me out. I'm having a discussion on another board about the legality of lanesharing in CA. I've tried searching the VC for the codes that pertain to it but am coming up short. Can you shoot me in the right direction?

Thanks for any info.

The simple answer is.. if someone says it is illegal, please ask them to show you where it says lanesharing is prohibited, outlawed or even discouraged in the vehicle code.

It's not.

There is a law prohibiting lane straddling, that is 21658(a) CVC. This is one law commonly cited when people are riding the bots-dots and are effectively occupying both lanes simultaneously and the citing officer feels their actions were unsafe. Other sections commonly cited are unsafe passing, unsafe speed, following too closely, failure to signal lane change and a few others, all as applicable. I am not saying lanesharing cannot be done unsafely, I'm just saying that when it is done safely, it is 100% legal in CA.

Many states have laws specifically outlawing the practice and describing it exactly. In CA, they tried to pass such a law (waaaay before my time) and the CHP came out against it as well as the AMA. The reason the CHP protested the legislation, or so I am told, is because they rode air-cooled Harleys and most everyone at that time was on air-cooled bikes (Harley's/Indians, BSA's and the like). The wide and relatively new freeways of LA were becoming jammed up and the police found lanesharing a safe and easy way to get around quickly and easily. I am told, for that reason, it has remained unregulated and therefore lawful in CA.

When done safely, lanesharing (or filtering, as it is called in Europe) is a traffic reducer, assuming all of those bikes would represent more cars and trucks, immobilized in gridlocked traffic. Allowing traffic to flow safely between stopped or slowed vehicles make sense.

I copied this (below) from an informational website and it sums it all up pretty well. There are also a couple of other threads on this topic and a link to laneshare.org (see links below) with lots more information.

Meanwhile, grab a bag of Fritos and enjoy this:

Is lane-sharing legal?
Here's the text (verbatim) from the CHP's site: "Lane splitting by motorcycles is permissible under California law but must done in a safe and prudent manner." The text used to also include "The motorcycle should be traveling no more than 10 mph faster than surrounding traffic (without exceeding the speed limit) and not come close enough to that traffic to cause a collision." but has since been removed. Perhaps they wanted to give cops more latitude to interpret what they thought was safe so they removed it.

Lane sharing on surface streets is probably not addressed in city or county laws so I would do this with caution, as individual cops will decide whether or not they like what they see. As with most prudent riders, I share lanes as necessary on surface streets if I don't see any cops, but I stop immediately if I spot one.

You can also find more on lane-splitting in the DMV Motorcycle handbook (see page 20 in the current handbook).

Can I laneshare to the front of a metered onramp?
In the magazine "Friction Zone," a reader asked "Is it legal to lane split to a metering light? In some areas there are two to three lanes when taking the onramp to the freeway. I normally laneshare right up to the limit line, come to a complete stop, and proceed at the same time (but at a lower speed) as the car I am sharing the lane with and then move in behind him. Am I doing anything wrong?"

The answer from Sergeant Price: "Splitting traffic is not specifically addressed in the California Vehicle Code. However, nothing prevents two vehicles from sharing the same traffic lane until it becomes unsafe. Therefore, you can split traffic on an onramp to advance to the front. However, once at the front of the line, there are usually regulatory signs that limit the number of vehicles allowed to enter the freeway on each successive green light. Usually these signs state "One vehicle per green each lane" or "Two (or three) vehicles per green each lane."

"In the first scenario, this means if there are two metered lanes for traffic, then only one vehicle from each lane may enter the freeway when the light turns green. A motorcycle sharing a lane with another vehicle is in violation of the posted provisions of the sign.

"In the second scenario a motorcyclist would not be in violation of the provisions of the sign since he would be sharing the lane with another vehicle and more than one is allowed for each lane. Be sure to read the signs in your area."

Also see:


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