Local News

Mar 25, 2014 8:57 PM by Victoria Johnson, KSBY News

When lane splitting is legal

Many drivers have been startled by a motorcycle zipping between lanes and may wonder if it's even legal. It is legal in California if it is done is a safe way. Lane splitting is when a motorcycle rider drives between the lanes of stopped or slower traffic, or moves between lanes to the front of traffic stopped at a light. In fact, drivers in cars have to be careful or they can be the ones to break the law. Roy Knight has been riding motorcycles since he was eight years old. Even he says lane splitting is controversial and experienced riders have to be careful too. "You have to be on your toes. Cars change lanes. If you are going between cars you have to be ready for someone to move," said Knight. "For it to become illegal, the motorist has to interfere with another vehicle that is travelling around him, to a point where an accident can be caused and a safety issue is apparent," said San Luis Obispo Police Officer George Berrios. As long as lane splitting is done safely and at a safe speed, it's legal. It could be beneficial to riders. "When I am heading down to Los Angeles or to the Bay Area, traffic slows down. There is nothing like splitting lanes to make time. That is when I do it," said Knight. But, not everyone likes lane splitting. "They see you coming up and they will purposely cut you off. So you have to watch out for people like that," said Knight. Drivers behind the wheel could be the ones getting the ticket. Intentionally blocking a rider that could cause them injury and opening a door to impede a rider is illegal. Even while splitting lanes, riders have to follow the basic speed law. Motorcycle riders have to follow the same rules of the road as drivers and be insured. As for constantly changing lanes on a motorcycle, officers say as long as riders use their signal properly, it is legal. Motorcycle riders must wear a helmet and have an M-classification on their drivers' license.    

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