Currently, there’s only one place in the United States where lane splitting is legal for motorcycles—and that’s California. Here in Colorado, lawmakers have lobbied for the controversial practice—most recently, in 2016—but that proposal was shot down. While a new bill seeks to fund a feasibility study to reopen the question, only time will tell if Colorado will join California in making lane splitting legal.
Whether you are a biker or the driver of a vehicle, it’s important to understand lane splitting and its risks.
What Exactly Is Lane-Splitting?
Due to motorcycles’ narrow profiles, they don’t need to remain in the middle of a lane like other vehicles; they can travel between cars on multi-lane highways. The practice of riding alongside cars or weaving between them and utilizing more than one lane to advance ahead of car traffic is known as lane splitting.
A similar practice is called lane filtering. Like lane splitting, this occurs when the motorcycle rider is maneuvering in between cars to travel more quickly. However, in the case of lane filtering, the cars are stopped due to traffic. Because motorcycles take up less space, they have room to weave between cars and gain an advantage once the flow of traffic resumes.
“Co-riding” is another way for motorcycle riders to travel. That’s when two bikers ride side-by-side in one lane. It’s important to remember that co-riding is legal in Colorado—in fact, co-riding is generally considered safer than just one rider on their own, as it makes both bikes easier for drivers to see.
The Pros and Cons of Lane Splitting
Bikers say that splitting is safer for them. It eliminates the possibility of being rear-ended, helps them get out of dense traffic (making travel easier for everyone), and allows them to get out of inclement weather more quickly. Conditions like intense heat, precipitation, and icy roads can be dangerous for them, so getting to their destination and off the road as quickly as possible in bad weather reduces the overall likelihood of accidents.
On the other side of the argument, drivers and safety experts point to the increased chance of sideswiping and merging incidents. That narrow profile that helps bikers maneuver more easily also means they’re often in drivers’ blind spots. Additionally, a motorcycle rider suddenly coming up alongside them can startle a driver, causing another unsafe condition.
How Does Lane Splitting Affect Liability?
As lane splitting is illegal, any rider involved in an accident that results from it will likely be blamed, at least partially. However, few traffic crashes are straightforward; other travelers’ actions, general traffic patterns, road conditions, and weather all contribute to the circumstances from which accidents arise.
If you’ve been harmed in a crash caused by lane splitting, contact Greer Law to help you sort out what happened and choose the best path forward. Fill out our contact form or call 303-331-6460 today.