2014 Lane Splitting Survey

October 23, 2014

All Posts, News

The Sacramento Bee ran a story yesterday about the most recent results of a lane splitting survey conducted annually in California for the last three years. The story was picked up by The Associated Press and has been widely reported in the last 24 hours although the survey on which it is based is actually five months old.

The report has the unwieldy title “Motorcycle Lane-Share Study Among California Motorcyclists And Drivers 2014 And Comparison To 2012 And 2013 Data.” It was conducted by a Ewald and Wasserman Research Consultants for the California Office of Traffic Safety and The Safe Transportation Research and Education Center at the University of California at Berkeley and the headline is that more California motorcyclists are lane splitting on both freeways and surface streets than ever before. The sub headline is that unless you are stupid about lane splitting it is no more dangerous than anything else you are likely to do on a motorcycle.

Lane splitting does in fact actually lower your chances of being struck from behind by a car. The bad news is that you are a little more likely to run into something when you lane split than when you just sit safely in the middle of your lane.

California Riding

California, which for a couple of decades in the last century had a reputation as a great place to ride a motorcycle on great roads, has always been the most rational of all the states about lane splitting – or as it has often been formally described, “lane sharing.”

A couple of years ago, the California Highway Patrol actually acknowledged that it is legal to split lanes in the Golden State and issued a brief set of “Lane Splitting General Guidelines” so that bikers would at least know what would and would not get them a ticket.

The guidelines told bikers and cops to stop worrying about crossing the white line that divides lanes and to just ride cautiously. Cautiously meant not going more than ten miles an hour faster than other traffic, not splitting lanes going faster than 40 miles per hour, splitting only the far left lanes and using “reasonable care.” At the time, it seemed like a useful thing for a big police department to say so it wasn’t long before somebody objected.

A gadfly named Kenneth Mandler, who has a business advising people about how to get state jobs, took offense. He claimed the Highway Patrol had created an “underground regulation” when it published “guidelines for safe lane splitting” so the CHP took the guidelines down. But they are still easy to find on the web and most police departments in California seem to have embraced the reasoning in the guidelines whether the regulation they offer is underground or not.

More Commuters

The 2014 update to the ongoing study is intended to make everybody a slightly more informed motorcyclist. It found that more people were commuting on motorcycles in 2014 than in the previous two years. It found that about 40 percent of California riders used their bikes mostly on the weekends but about 38 percent of riders use their motorcycles every day.

About 40 percent of the bikers who ride six or seven days a week split lanes on California’s freeways whenever they ride while only about seven percent of infrequent riders, who ride once or less a week, do. Taken as a whole, 71 percent of California’s motorcyclists sometimes split lanes on surface roads which is a ten percent increase over 2013. Sixty-two percent of all riders in the state sometimes split lanes on both surface streets and freeways which is a more than seven percent increase over the previous year.

The younger the rider the more likely he is to split lanes. Riders are splitting at slightly faster speeds in stop and go traffic but overall riders are going a little slower this year than last when they split.

Motorcyclists who split are most concerned about drivers who text when driving and that problem may be getting worse. About six percent more riders listed that as their top concern in 2014 than last year.

People In Cars

The publication of the Highway Patrol’s guidelines and a subsequent ad campaign made California safer for bikers. Sixty-one percent of California’s vehicle operators now know that lane splitting is legal which is about five percentage points more than last year.

The younger a driver is, the more likely he is to be aware than lane splitting is legal in California. Ten percent more drivers between 18 and 35 now know the practice is legal than knew last year. In California, sixty percent of all drivers now know lane splitting is legal on freeways. But only about half of all drivers know it is legal to split on surface streets.

About eight percent of drivers who don’t know that lane splitting is legal approve of the practice anyway. Men are more likely to approve of lane splitting than women.

You can download a complete copy of the 51-page survey here.



13 Responses to “2014 Lane Splitting Survey”

  1. VAGO 1%er Says:

    The gadfly named Kenneth Mandler sounds like a jackass.

  2. stroker Says:

    From Wikipedia:

    “A gadfly is a person who upsets the status quo by posing upsetting or novel questions.”
    “In modern politics, a gadfly is someone who persistently challenges people in positions of power, the status quo or a popular position.[3] For example, Morris Kline wrote “There is a function for the gadfly who poses questions that many specialists would like to overlook. Polemics are healthy.”[4] The word may be uttered in a pejorative sense, while at the same time be accepted as a description of honourable work or civic duty.[5]”

    For my part, I think the apt definition of Mr. Mandler should be “Whiney little Putz!”

  3. Ol'LadyRider Says:

    Rebel, you’ve once again proven you are a much, much more patient person than I. I tried to read that study and gave up about halfway through because of the horribly confusing (at least to me) way the information was presented. Those tables are a nightmare.

  4. springerman Says:

    I think lane splitting is great, but absolutely personal choice. I was in CA for the first time in August and rented a bike 2014 Ultra limited. Rode from San Diego to Las Vegas and back in a few days. I did a little bit of lane splitting but nothing like the douschebag in the lane splitting videos I have seen. I ain’t in a big of a hurry to go anywhere. I have lived in FL and lane split when necessary( again in no big hurry for anything) I have lived in the “great” Northeast ( nothing great about it) and lane split when I can (once again in no hurry to go anywhere) Drunk right now so just wanted to comment. AR is the best site on this fucking web so Anywho that’s all i’m saying !

  5. RtC Says:

    Excellent read Rebel. I don’t get out much anymore & truly appreciate the
    facts from Cali.
    BTW, a “gadfly” is fucking FISH-BAIT! Don’t care who you are OR the
    definition you’ve come up with, Mandler is fuckin’ FISH BAIT valued.
    The best scene for LANE SPLITTING is in ARMED&DANGEROUS
    LMFAO at John Candy!!!

    RESPECTS for the REAL

  6. ElleElle Says:

    I said it before but I can say it again..I think gadfly may be synonomis with “serious vitamin D deficiency”. All of the intense reading boils down to a few basics however, one of which is that the motorcyclist has less manueverability and or legal protection than before…not to mention the obvious stupidity of not being able to keep a bike “rolling” during grid lock.

  7. Dusk Says:

    In Dago it’s a way of life! And to be honest, with all the idiot drivers here not using blinkers and cutting everyone off, I sometimes feel safest in between lanes doing 90 mph. The funniest part about it is how many drivers are actually angry at us when we do it and will pinch us off or even worse…my friend had a car door opened on him, causing serious injury. The amount of people that die here in motorcycle accidents is alarming, but they are not caused by lane splitting. Usually it’s drivers not paying attention and pulling out in front of bikes!
    Ride safe out there…
    And Rebel great work as always.

  8. Oldskewl Says:

    Couldn’t imagine living in a state where this isn’t legal but for those states with sparse populations I can where it really isn’t that necessary.

    here in the jungle is a necessity.

  9. Paul Says:

    Lane splitting must work differently on the East Coast. Here, its the cagers that decide they need to share my lane and pass me.

    Oh wait, nevermind. That’s just the cesspool that is DC.

  10. tommy Says:

    Lane splitting is alive and well in california, Dont let a couple idiot ruin it for us. Props to spike, ABATE, and the COC for fighting anything in regards to lane splitting.

  11. Cookslc Says:

    While I approve of the CHP interpretation, I also approve of the citizen pointing out that the agency is engaging in illegal rule making. Remember, if they can interpret the law for us without public input, they can interpret it against us without public input.

  12. fayettenamehoe Says:

    – a lane splitter–i am-.- me allways been a lane splitter, watching my reflections off their bumpers, back when they were chrome plated, now they have no chrome, as i melt into the pavement, even i won’t see my self comming to get them, only the red and blue lites behind me now, and in between the lines, no soul can save me when i haunt that white line, in between the places i came from and the shit holes that i live for, call me, call me, call me a hearse, another one,as i watch those cars roll over me, as the children screamed, more we need more, he’s not dead enough, he will never forget, he will haunt us till the day we die

  13. fayettenamehoe Says:

    lane splitters, know how to second guess and look beyond the judgement of the other drivers, from a mile away, we see you going and coming down the road, fuck me, just be be carefull please, it can hurt,

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