Lane Splitting: Legal Or Not?

Many bikers are curious about whether California motorcycle and bicycle laws permit them to ride in between two lanes, also known as lane sharing or lane splitting. While lane splitting is legal, any resulting motorcycle, bicycle or scooter accidents in California may be considered comparative fault, meaning that the biker may be judged partly responsible and have any recovery reduced.

The basic rule in California is that all persons are supposed to act reasonably in the operation of their vehicles. California Law, Vehicle Code Section 22350 makes it unlawful to operate a vehicle at a speed which is unreasonable for the given traffic and roadway conditions. A jury may attribute fault for lane changes or lane splitting if someone riding a motorcycle was unreasonable, given the traffic and roadway conditions.

Biases against Motorcyclists Come into Play

Many car drivers are frightened by lane splitting motorcyclists. Likewise, they may be jealous having to sit in traffic while motorcyclists zip along.  When car drivers are jurors in motorcycle accident lawsuits, they may attribute fault to the biker for failing to act reasonably under heavy traffic conditions, even when the biker has done nothing wrong. This is called “bias” and it is a form of prejudice against motorcycle and scooter drivers.

Having selected dozens of juries in cases involving motorcycle and bicycle accidents in California, the attorneys of the Dolan Law Firm frequently hear the resentments that automobile drivers have against motorcyclists and scooter drivers. They often seem to think that all motorcyclists are reckless or crazy. During jury selection, jurors have been heard to say, “If it was one of those crazy motorcyclists, scooter drivers or bike messengers who ride between lanes, I would be hard pressed to award them any damages.”

Contact Our Experienced Lawyers

Of course, just because there is a bias against bikers splitting lanes, it doesn’t mean you should avoid lane splitting entirely. It is legal, and you have a right to enjoy your bike in a legal, responsible way. If tragedy strikes and you do end up in an accident, our lawyers can work to help prove to a jury that you acted within your rights as a motorcyclist.

And if you do end up in a motorcycle, bicycle or scooter accident in California, contact our lawyers right away for a free case evaluation. We do all work on a contingency basis, which means that we charge you nothing, only winning payment when you win compensation.