Motorcyclists in California have the same responsibilities on the road as any other motorist. They are expected to comply with the law and expect that others will do the same. In many cases, motorcyclists may be even more aware of safe driving practices than other drivers because of the fact that their lives could be on the line if they are involved in a crash.
This is why riders in this state have been vocal in their disappointment that the guidelines for one motorcycle practice in particular were recently removed from the California Highway Patrol's website. For over a year, the CHP has included guidelines for "lane-splitting" online, where riders and curious motorists could learn more about this practice that allows motorcyclists to weave through traffic congestion. However, these guidelines were taken down in July.
Many riders have expressed concern about the decision to take down this information because it adds to the confusion of what is and is not allowable on California roads. This is the only state where lane-splitting is allowed, and these guidelines are in place to inform riders of how to be safe when they are lane-splitting.
The guidelines that were added and then removed from the websites included when lane-splitting was appropriate, how fast a rider should be going when weaving through congestion and where on the road it is safest to drive when lane-splitting. These guidelines provided riders and other motorists with the understanding of how and why lane-splitting should be done safely.
However, the California Office of Administrative Law determined that the guidelines were to be taken down because they did not want people misinterpreting the safety tips as enforceable laws.
Some people are concerned that by taking these guidelines down, the administrative law office is putting the safety of bikers and drivers in jeopardy. While most riders engage in lane-splitting using common sense safety techniques already, their safety is still in danger if they are reckless or if other motorists fail to acknowledge a rider's ability to lane-split.
What do you think? Should the guidelines be put back online? Do they serve the purpose of increasing safety and awareness for motorcyclists on the road?
Source: Marin Independent Journal, "CHP splits with motorcycle lane guidelines," Laith Agha, Aug. 9, 2014