Lane splitting: efficient traffic flow or safety risk?
by Ofelia Sivyer – GDT
Have you heard of lane splitting? If you ride a motorcycle or know someone who does, you may already
be familiar with it, but for many, this might be a new concept.
Wikipedia defines lane splitting as a two-wheeled vehicle moving between lanes of vehicles that are
proceeding in the same direction. Specifically, it refers to passing stopped or slower moving traffic
between lanes at a speed greater than surrounding traffic.
Though permitted or tolerated in many parts of the world, lane splitting in the US is permissible only in
California. While California does not specifically identify this as a legal practice, they have no law that
expressly prohibits it.
Supporters of the concept believe that it is a good way to maximize road space, reduce congestion, and
increase efficiency of mobility. Detractors of the measure consider it to be a dangerous maneuver that
places driver safety in jeopardy.
Though the issue has been studied, one paper suggests more study on its safety (or hazard) was needed before reaching a definitive conclusion.
We came across lane splitting driving along I-280 during a visit to San Francisco Bay. We saw how easily motorcyclists come up on cars, often without those drivers realizing someone is passing them. It would be unfortunate, yet so easy, for a car to swerve and hit a biker unintentionally.
So, while we respect California’s right to allow lane splitting, we’d like to see more evaluation before
other states adopt similar measures. What do you think?