AMA Endorses Splitting Lanes

December 13, 2013

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Citing “motorcycle operator and passenger safety,” the American Motorcyclist Association has now endorsed the practice of “lane splitting” or “white lining.”

In an editorial in the current issue of American Motorcyclist Magazine, the AMA argues: “Perhaps one of the most dangerous situations for any on-highway motorcyclist is being caught in congested traffic, where stop-and-go vehicles, distracted and inattentive vehicle operators, and environmental conditions pose an increased risk of physical contact with another vehicle or hazard. Even minor contact under such conditions can be disastrous for motorcyclists.”

The AMA also cites a recent study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration which states: “A motorcycle’s narrow width can allow it to pass between lanes of stopped or slow-moving cars on roadways where the lanes are wide enough to offer an adequate gap. This option can provide an escape route for motorcyclists who would otherwise be trapped or struck from behind. There is evidence (Hurt, 1981) that traveling between lanes of stopped or slow-moving cars (i.e., lane splitting) on multiple-lane roads (such as interstate highways) slightly reduces crash frequency compared with staying within the lane and moving with other traffic.”

You can read the AMA editorial here.


California is the only state that allows lane splitting. Historically, the difference between legal and illegal lane splitting in California has been a subjective decision made by individual cops. Technically, until earlier this year California only allowed “lane sharing” which meant a motorcycle could legally share a road lane with another motor vehicle. Police who interpreted the law strictly or prejudicially would cite motorcycles that drove over lane dividers with a charge of “illegal lane change.” Additionally many California motorists have long considered lane splitting to be rude.

California’s fitful tolerance for lane splitting began when all motorcycles were air cooled. The state recognized that lane splitting could prevent engine overheating in traffic jams.

But last February the California Highway Patrol issued “Lane Splitting General Guidelines.” The guidelines assures bikers that they will not be ticketed if they don’t split lanes going more than ten miles an hour faster than other traffic; if they do not split going faster than 40 miles per hour; if they only split between the far left lanes and if they use reasonable care. The guidelines also remind motorists that “Intentionally blocking or impeding a motorcyclist in a way that could cause harm to the rider is illegal (California Vehicle Code 22400)” and “opening a vehicle door to impede a motorcycle is illegal (California Vehicle Code 22517).”

Lane splitting is legal in Japan and in most of Europe.


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23 Responses to “AMA Endorses Splitting Lanes”

  1. fayettenamhoe Says:

    in the golden days we called it line writing, wee wrote epitaphs by the number plates, if you read a bumper sticker it could killyou, back when cars stood for cages and harleys were a curse

  2. fayettenamhoe Says:

    till death smiles at me in the chrome of the bumper, some people should just stand in line, lane splinting all the way, meow

  3. fayettenamhoe Says:

    i have allways been a lane splitter, spitter, white lines have no boudaries, only the cars i cut between, granted most the times i’m solo, i don’t need a back seat rider puking on my back, or getting some cage drivers window dirty, i’m in and out before they can move the wheel, yes i have scraped through the lanes, fuck me, their children smiled, scat man, let them wait in line,

  4. mark Says:

    Bob, FUCK YOU! If your too stupid to figure out how to split a lane then you SHOULD sit in traffic. Common sense will get you between those vehicles. No reason to make a law if you don’t have the talent or skill to perform a task. JMO

  5. Bob Says:

    Lane Splitting should be outlawed!! I use to lane split all the time when I was a kid, but now being 57 I will never do it, too freaking dangerous and stupid.. Yeah a Harley can over heat in long traffic, then don’t ride in traffic and maybe go buy a water cooled jap bike if that’s your main concern.. I have a friend and he has been swiped 3 times in 3 years by bikes and everyone of those suckers took off!?

    I wish no one death on a bike, only long healthy rides, but if you get nailed by a car splitting lanes, it’s your fault dummy and also bikes should follow the same laws has cars!

  6. stroker Says:

    (slow day at work, and I’ve got time to lurk and comment here. Love it)

    Been riding in California since the 60’s. My observation is, that as a whole, lane splitting/sharing is less dangerous now than it was years ago. Why? I think the public is somehow more used to us than they were 50 years ago. Back then, it was still not illegal, but the cage drivers seemed more out to get me than now. I’ve had experiences in El Lay both comical and life-threatening. I’ve kicked doors in, knocked mirrors off, been sent 2 lanes over by a car load of jerk-offs looking to kill me, been spit on, had bottles/cans/milkshakes thrown at me, and been caught in a squeeze play or two! NOT fun! And I swear I wasn’t doin’ nuttin’ besides splitting lanes! What was different back then? I think it was just that when our kind (yeah, you and me, all of us, the great un-washed horde on two wheels) burst on the scene in the 60’s, we looked like we should be fucked with. we were (at that time) dirty (looking), greasy (levis were for sure!), long-haired, bearded hippies on Harleys. Yeah. We were! we were proud of who and what we were, and we flaunted it! And John Q.Public, for the most part, wanted nothing to do with any of us! They saw all the “Hells Angels on Wheels” movies, they KNEW we were dangerous freaks that didn’t deserve to be on the same highway as them, and some of them took great, perverse pleasure in fucking with us! Hell. They were doing society a favor in fucking with us! Who the hell did we think we were: going out in public looking like we did?! We should be “outlawed!”
    Well….here we are, today, outlaws.
    The difference today, I think, is the public is used to seeing us. They see us not only in the clubs that exist in every town (now), they also see us and all the independent bikers, and all the weekend warriors who wanna look like us. We’re a fact of life now. We may have been “outlawed” in the public’s perception of us, if not in actual fact (it’s coming), and we ourselves have gleefully accepted our image as our rightful place in society. So, society today is, for the most part, more accepting of us moving past them in traffic.
    Now, of course, not everybody likes us today, it’s just my opinion as an old biker that things today are somewhat better than they were in the lane-splitting department. Does not mean everybody likes us. Just maybe they’re more conscious of us, and because of that, and the prospect of getting their precious Lexus scratched, that keeps them in their lane and accepting of us moving past them.

    Just my .02 worth.


  7. Tooj Says:

    Bay Bridge is a real bitch for that. Drivers bout all just LOOK to hit yer ass.

  8. fayettenamhoe Says:

    now i’ be, legal, hahahahaha

  9. fayettenamhoe Says:

    splitting lanes, fuck me, how about spitting on bumbers as you glide through their madness, never close enough when got no job, hahahahabuy me another put down on my way to the liquar store,

  10. VINCE 1%er Says:

    I’m in shock after reading of the AMA’s endorsement,approval and acceptance of lane splitting ! They back,support & advocate Mandatory Helmet Laws Nationwide – yet they wholeheartedly approve of lane splitting ?
    (Not that I’m against it in ANY Way – just that its a dicey & dangerous mode of travel-and can also be a lifesaver in many instances ).
    Wow…..I wonder what they as a whole were drinking,smoking and/or mixing before this public endorsement was made ?
    I guess Truth IS stranger than Fiction.

  11. Base Says:

    Holy shit, you mean there are lanes we as bikers are suppose to to stay in?

    Damn the things you learn here on the Aging Rebel.

  12. CN Says:

    Paladin: Thanks for the 411. I appreciate it whenever somebody takes the time to explain something to me especially the law which seems to change faster than I can keep up with it. Hopefully this will influence our SC law makers to consider similar legislation. I’ve copied what I could from this thread and am sending it to both the Governor and mt State Representative for whatever good that might do. Our Governor has been very pro-motorcycle and said she would veto any helmet laws that crossed her desk so maybe we can get this going too. I don’t have much use for the AMA as they don’t have much use for the MC I’m honored to ride with but if I can utilize something they have done I will as strange as that sounds. Thanks again.

  13. OC VAGO 1%er Says:

    Oh, I feel so much better now the AMA says its ok.

  14. Cap'n Bill Says:

    Several years ago, I got a ticket(which I beat…YEAH!) for passing on a bridge on the left side. Does that count? I’m sure this will take a LONG time to happen, if it does at all.

  15. Paladin Says:


    Those are the CHP (can’t handle police work) “guide lines”, not vehicle code laws. So, bikers pretty much split all the lanes on the CA Fwys.(101, 405, 118, 5, etc.).

    I wasn’t given any AMA literature when I bought a new bike in ’09. If I had, it would have gone in the trash.

    Long May You Ride (to those that deserve to),


  16. CN Says:

    It’s the far left lane, so it’s the passing lane side on a four lane or the white lines between the 3rd. & 4th lanes? In the case of two lanes moving in the same direction, divided by a median where two lanes move in the opposite direction the white line would cut between the right and left lane (as in most of I-95 or I-20 here in SC)? I’ve been doing this for most of the years I’ve been riding especially on brutally hot days in stop & go traffic jams. An old thrill years ago was to follow a Semi then when it came up on another Semi ride the yellow line between the two (not too smart but young & stupid preceeded my old and stupid days), a real “rush” (I know nobody says that anymore). But good for the AMA and their 99% of well behaved law abiding law & order members. When I buy a new firearm there’s usually some NRA propaganda in the box (especially rifles). Do the new bikes come with an AMA counterpart? I honestly haven’t bought a new bike in a long while.

  17. mo co rider Says:

    Dangerous! no matter what state makes it legal! the cars will win in a crash, a fact…

  18. stroker Says:

    Just for the record, Cali does not have a law that allows “lane splitting” and the CHP “guidelines” were just that, guidelines. Lane “sharing” is not illegal. There was a bill going to go thru the legislative process earlier this year, but most MROs in Cali were instrumental in shutting it down, because of extra stuff on the bill, and some language that would have been detrimental to MC riders.
    But props to the CHP on this one. we’re actually on the same page (gasp!)

  19. BMW Says:

    The AMA now proves the proposition that even a broken clock is right when viewed at a certain time of day…LOL…1% Forever!

  20. jj solari Says:

    its unfortunate that DC and State governments are in charge of roads and not private road-building capitalist industrial moguls, otherwise there would be motorcycle highways, truck highways and car highways by now crisscrossing america instead of the deteriorating shit paths that kill 50,000 people a year and government never gets sued over it. “Oh, well, oh dear, who else could build a highway but the government? It’s too complex for private industry. Roads are like space travel! very complex! and then you would have to pay to use them!”

  21. jj solari Says:

    watch auto drivers get infuriated by this. most californians dont know that lane splitting is actually legal. its dangerous as hell and … auto drivers are reading this, right?….its dangerous as hell of course – to the motorcyclist – and it pisses off car drivers cause all motorcyclists piss off car drivers, that’s why they hit them, but if car drivers get clear in their minds that ITS NOW ACTUALLY ALLOWED watch the fireworks.

  22. Paladin Says:

    The AMA editorial proves that if you’re around long enough, you’re bound to get something right.

    Long May You Ride (to those that deserve to),


  23. jj solari Says:

    ever notice when the State graciously ALLOWS you to do something how good you feel? imagine if the State disappeared and you could just do everything. it wold be like being in heaven before becoming a corpse to do so.

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