The California state senate committee on transportation and housing unanimously approved a revised lane-splitting bill (A.B. 51) on June 14. The 11-0 vote sends the proposal to the Appropriations Committee.
The American Motorcyclist Association supports this bill.
The proposed legislation would formally legalize lane splitting, a maneuver in which motorcyclists pass between rows of stopped or slowly moving traffic. The practice has been condoned by law enforcement for years because no law prohibits it there.
California is the only state where lane splitting is permitted. If A.B. 51 becomes law the state would become the first to codify the practice, representing a major victory for motorcycling advocates.
Assemblyman Bill A.B. 51 was modified by state Assemblyman Bill (D-Hayward) for the 2016 legislative session to remove specific speed restrictions. As introduced in 2015, the bill would have permitted motorcyclists to split lanes at speeds of up 50 mph, as long as the rider was not traveling more than 15 mph faster than surrounding traffic.
The revised bill defines lane splitting and authorizes the California Highway Patrol to develop educational guidelines for safely splitting lanes. In developing those guidelines, the CHP would work with the state Department of Motor Vehicles, the Department of Transportation, the Office of Traffic Safety and a motorcycle organization focused on motorcycle safety.
The University of California at Berkeley published a report in May 2015 that concludes that motorcyclists who split lanes in heavy traffic are significantly less likely to be struck from behind by other motorists, are less likely to suffer head or torso injuries, and are less likely to sustain fatal injuries in a crash.
The AMA Board of Directors has formally adopted a position statement in support of lane splitting, which can be viewed by clicking here.