AMA petition calls for return of lane-splitting guidelines to California government websites, offices
July 22, 2014
PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- The
American Motorcyclist Association initiated a petition drive today to convince
the California Office of Administrative Law to allow state agencies to once
again disseminate important information on safely and responsibly executing the
motorcycling technique called lane splitting.
The online petition can be found here: https://cqrcengage.com/amacycle/app/sign-petition?1&engagementId=55066.
A recent Office of Administrative Law order resulted in the California Highway
Patrol, the Department of Motor Vehicles and other agencies removing CHP
lane-splitting guidelines from their websites and ridding their offices of
pamphlets, fliers and other documents that contained the safety information.
"Removal of the DMV brochures is a big loss," said Nick Haris, AMA
western states representative and a member of the California Motorcyclist
Safety Program Advisory Committee, which helped write the guidelines. "The
DMV offices and website are the first places California drivers look for
information. And this is vital information for them to have."
The CHP also removed references to lane splitting from its online FAQ, where
information had been available long before the agency released its guidelines
early in 2013.
"Lane splitting is still allowed, and motorcyclists are still using this
long-recognized riding technique to relieve traffic congestion and improve
safety," Haris said. "But now, neither riders nor motorists have a
place to turn for authoritative guidelines on the practice."
The AMA supports the continued use of safe lane splitting in California and the
implementation of lane-splitting laws in other states, coupled with extensive
rider and driver education programs.
The AMA position statement reads, in part: "Reducing a motorcyclist's
exposure to vehicles that are frequently accelerating and decelerating on
congested roadways can be one way to reduce front- and rear-end collisions for
those most vulnerable in traffic."
The guidelines disappeared at the urging of Kenneth Mandler, of Sacramento,
Calif., who petitioned the OAL in the fall of 2013, claiming that the CHP
guidelines were an "underground regulation" -- a rule that would be
enforced, even though it had not been the subject of the Administrative
Procedure Act's prescribed process.
In response to Mandler's complaint, CHP Commissioner J. A. Farrow certified to
the OAL that his agency would not "issue, use, enforce, or attempt to
enforce the public education information." The OAL determined that posting
the guidelines on the website was "issuing" them.
Lane splitting, also called lane filtering, is the practice of riding a
motorcycle or scooter between lanes of stopped or slowly moving traffic. The
practice has been permitted in California for decades and no statute prohibits
it. No other state allows the maneuver. Lane splitting is common in other
countries around the world.
The CHP posted its guidelines with the intention of helping motorcyclists and
motorists understand safe practices and to discourage unsafe lane splitting.
For its part, the Office of Administrative Law says it made no determination
regarding Mandler's claim that the guidelines were an underground regulation.
"OAL did not issue a legal opinion as to whether the lane splitting
guidelines constitute a regulation," OAL Director Debra M. Cornez wrote in
an email to the AMA. "Since CHP notified OAL that it would not issue, use,
enforce, or attempt to enforce the guidelines, OAL was precluded under the law from
addressing the merits of Mr. Mandler's petition. Therefore, OAL never made a
determination that the guidelines constituted a regulation."
Instead, OAL senior counsel Elizabeth Heidig instructed the CHP to remove the
guidelines because Farrow agreed not to "issue" them.
The AMA petition seeks to demonstrate to the OAL that its narrow interpretation
of Farrow's word choice jeopardizes thousands of California motorcyclists,
automobile and truck drivers and visitors to the state, because they are being
denied access to safety guidelines that affect their roadway environment.
The CHP guidelines remain available from the AMA here: http://americanmotorcyclist.com/Libraries/Rights_Documents_State/lanesplitting_guidelines.sflb.ashx?download=true.
The complete AMA lane splitting position statement is available here: http://americanmotorcyclist.com/Rights/PositionStatements/LaneSplitting.aspx.