Lane splitting is the practice of riding a motorcycle, bicycle, or other two-wheeled vehicles between rows of slow-moving traffic. Lane splitting is also called stripe riding or white lining. Similar to lane splitting, lane splitting is when two-wheel vehicles ride between lanes going int he same direction in stopped traffic. When two riders share the same lane, either side-by-side or in a staggered formation, it’s called lane sharing.
The Motorcycle Legal Foundation refers to the four Rs for those who wish to lane split:
- Be Reasonable: Be reasonable with your speed, as going fast can be dangerous. Don’t be a liability to yourself and others.
- Be Responsible: You are responsible for your safety, so make sure that your actions reflect this. Your actions are also responsible for the safety of others around you.
- Be Respectful: Everyone on the road shares the road. Safely and politely acknowledge a motorist if they give you room to lane split. A motorist giving you space is a courtesy and not an obligation. And don’t be a jerk.
- Beware of Roadways: You should always be aware of potential hazards whenever you’re driving, including uneven surfaces, potholes, inattentive drivers, and poor weather conditions. Riding on painted lines can reduce your grip on the road when it rains. You should be on extra high alert for these hazards when splitting lanes. Stay focused so that you’re able to respond to dangers if they arise.
Lane splitting is controversial and often alarming for drivers. If you ride too fast, you can startle drivers or distract them from focusing on the road in front of them. Additionally, while most rear-end incidents in traffic are minor fender-benders, bikers are at a higher risk of being injured or seriously injured in rear-end incidents. Because motorcyclists have lower visibility on the roadway than other cars, it is also recommended that they wear bright colors.
Some also believe that lane splitting can be beneficial, despite the motorists that get frustrated about bikers not “waiting in line” in traffic. If a biker leaves their spot in traffic to lane split, it allows each vehicle to be one spot closer to their destination, allowing both the biker and the other motorists to travel quicker. A 2012 Belgian study found out that if 10% of drivers switched to motorcycles, travel times would decrease by eight minutes per journey.
States Where Lane Splitting is Legal
Lane spotting is a common practice across Europe and Asia. In the United States, bikers and their lawmakers are often in heated debates about the practice. Currently, the only state that explicitly allows lane splitting is California. Several other U.S. states are considering adopting legislation to making lane splitting legal. These states are Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, Oregon, and Texas. Lane splitting is illegal in every other U.S. state. Lane splitting is illegal in Utah, but lane filtering is legal.