This is still in quite rough form. Bear with me as I elaborate. The premise is (motorcycle) lane-splitting is related to (bicycle) lane sharing. Lane-splitting is also sometimes referred to as “filtering”.
Lane splitting Legal Misconception
I was under the impression, what I believe now to be a common misconception, that motorcycle lane-splitting refers to a motorcyclists splitting between two lanes; in other words riding on the dashed line.
There are two related traffic rules, the first is general and applies to all persons driving any vehicle: motorcyclists, motorists driving cars/trucks, and incidentally also to bicyclists. This general rule implicitly makes lane-splitting by riding on the dashed line illegal.
The second law explicitly makes any form of motorcyclist lane-splitting illegal; both riding on the dashed line (section C) or riding within the same lane regardless of the lane’s width (section B).
§28-729. Driving on roadways laned for traffic
If a roadway is divided into two or more clearly marked lanes for traffic, the following rules in addition to all others consistent with this section apply:
1. A person shall drive a vehicle as nearly as practicable entirely within a single lane and shall not move the vehicle from that lane until the driver has first ascertained that the movement can be made with safety. (note: this is functionally identical to UVC 11-309)
§28-903. Operation of motorcycle on laned roadway; exceptions
A. All motorcycles are entitled to the full use of a lane. A person shall not drive a motor vehicle in such a manner as to deprive any motorcycle of the full use of a lane. This subsection does not apply to motorcycles operated two abreast in a single lane.
B. The operator of a motorcycle shall not overtake and pass in the same lane occupied by the vehicle being overtaken.
C. A person shall not operate a motorcycle between the lanes of traffic or between adjacent rows of vehicles…
It actually technically refers to splitting the space in one lane among a motorcycle and another vehicle. This is explicitly illegal in AZ (as mentioned above, 28-903B) and apparently
all many other states except CA because (see e.g. the picture of the “sign” above and info at lanesplittingislegal.com ).
NOTE WELL!! Except for the motorcycle exception (28-903A); Two vehicles may share lanes. What? This is confusing to a lot of people. The simple answer is 1) there is no law against it, and 2) the vast majority of lanes are nowhere near wide enough to comfortably allow two cars to fit side-by-side.
UVC §11-1303 is materially the same as AZ’s. It’s worth noting that in the UVC (unlike Arizona), a bicycle is defined as a vehicle; so there’s an additional exception needed to allow motorcyclists to overtake bicycles in the same lane. Without that additional exception in the UVC, it would be legal for car drivers to overtake bicyclists in the same lane but not motorcyclists.
Still not-illegal in CA: AB51
The situation in CA is quite intriguing: as explained by thesundaybe.st/lane-splitting-is-not-a-crime, the situation in CA is that lane-splitting (as in lane-sharing) is not illegal, in other words, CA law lacks a provision like Arizona’s 28-903B or C.
Things got heated when in 2013 CHP published “guidelines” for how to lane split — implying it was legal to split. Under pressure from an anti-splitter group (who knew?) CHP “quietly removed” the guidelines in 2014. Which of course didn’t actually change anything.
Ultimately, AB51 passed in 2016; and while often referred to as legalizing lane-splitting, that’s not exactly true. No rules of the road were changed; the law simple empowers CHP (and some others) to develop and publish guidelines via a new section VC 21658.1. And in fact, 21658 is still the law of the land; it is CA’s equivalent to 28-729.1, “A vehicle shall be driven as nearly as practical entirely within a single lane…”.
Ther website Lane Splitting Is Legal in California, lanesplittingislegal.com, is dedicated to the subject.
Motorcycle Lane-splitting in Other States
The page at motorcyclelegalfoundation.com has a state-by-state map; in it at as of their writing (it says it was written in 2017), they list CA as “legal” (green; which as mentioned above is somewhat misleading, the new/2016 law simply defines lane splitting), AZ and many other states as “illegal” (grey color); but a whole bunch as “not mentioned and not specifically prohibited” (yellow; examples are TX, NM, OK, Misouri, Montana, MI, NC, OH, KY, WV, DE). That is more in the not-mentioned category than I was aware of.
Inserted image from the motorcyclelegalfoundation.com. I assume they know what they are talking about but I really can’t vouch for them; it appears to be a CA P.I. lawyer’s site.
A New Times article on the subject refers to a 2010 that was vetoed; and in any event there are now two versions floating around in the Spring 2018 legislative session:
- SB1007 As simply eliminated 28-903B & C and adds “guideline” language similar to CA’s law. It does not touch 28-723.
- SB1015 waives 903B & C for helmeted motorcyclists, and sets some mph limits.
Ug. helmet debate. AZ has no adult helmet law.
The whole situation for bicyclists is like some sort of bizzaro world version of motorcyclist lane-splitting.
Motorcyclists split in order to get ahead of slower traffic.
Motorists lane-split bicyclists in order to get ahead of slower bicyclists.
FTR laws in effect force bicyclists to allow motorists to lane-split them; the safety exceptions are unknown to or routinely ignored (by motorists who get agitated at any bicyclist not riding FTR)
i have many more thoughts about this; free-association — the same people who insist motorcyclist lane-splitting is horribly dangerous i suspect are the same ones who think controlling a narrow lane (on a bicycle) is horribly dangerous (they also think it’s already illegal). They are all for forced lane-splitting when it’s them wanting to pass a bicyclist within a lane, at infinite mph speed differential.
The Berkely (motorcyclist) lane-splitting study 2015 generally found motorcycle lane-splitting to be acceptably safe. Because, or at least in part because the demographic (more full-face helmets) and speeds of lane-splitters (a majority are < 15mph differential).