Beware: The Swarm . . . The Scoop on Lane Splitting

lane splitters

Did You Know . . .

Did you know that lane splitting is permitted in California?

Lane splitting” refers to the practice of riding a motorcycle between clearly marked lanes for traffic traveling in the same direction. The goal of splitting lanes is to keep moving at a reasonable speed through slow or stopped traffic.

Permitted means it is neither legal nor illegal to do.

It is not only permitted, but is an optional safety practice of the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) for riders in California. The word optional, according to the AMA, means that it is not a required practice. In 2013, the California Highway Patrol published lane splitting guidelines, with the warning, “These general guidelines are not guaranteed to keep you safe.”

So in certain conditions (low speeds) and situations (neat rows of cars), a highly experienced motorcycle rider has the option of lane splitting in California.


Congested traffic or stop-and-go traffic is one of the most dangerous and risky situations to be in for motorcycle riders. Drivers of larger vehicles may make sudden stops or not be aware of the motorcycles in their proximity, making sudden lane changes or other maneuvers resulting in a conflict or collision. Motorcycles and their riders can become trapped or crushed between vehicles that don’t stop in a backup.

Lane splitting and filtering (riding a motorcycle between stopped motor vehicles to the front of the pack, typically at a intersection with a traffic signal), is legal in many countries, but is not in the U.S.

It is not recommended by the CHP that lane splitting be done, “Between trucks, buses, RVs, and other wide vehicles,” or on curves, near exit ramps, or on a double yellow line, etc., to name a few risky situations.

driving on shoulder

Professional Drivers Share the Road

Professional drivers always share the road. If traffic is slow and motorcycles are lane splitting, position the vehicle in the center of the lane, as motorcycles may be lane splitting on both sides of the truck.

Professional drivers do not interfere with motorcycles lane splitting, filtering, or riding in the carpool lane or on the shoulder. They are only driving in the manner they judge to be the safest.

  • Intentionally blocking or impeding a motorcyclist in a way that could cause harm to the rider is illegal (CVC 22400). 4)
  • Opening a vehicle door to impede a motorcycle is illegal (CVC 22517).

Drivers noticing motorcycles that are lane splitting — need to be constantly aware of the movement of the lane splitters as well as all other vehicles around their vehicle, and should always be ready to stop, if necessary.

Thank you for reading this. Have a super-safe day.