Safety is a pressing matter for everyone on the road, but it is a particularly important topic for motorcycle riders. In fact, motorcyclists are 26 times more likely than car passengers to die in a crash and nearly 5 times more likely to be injured. Considering rear-end collisions account for more than a quarter of all motorcycle crashes, protecting the rear is every cyclist’s priority.
That is precisely why California officially legalized lane-splitting at the beginning of this year. A study conducted by the University of California Berkeley found that lane splitting drastically reduced a rider’s chances of being struck from behind. Technically, the act of riding between lanes of slow or stopped traffic has never been illegal. The state has just now validated lane-splitting as a cyclist’s best defense against accidents when utilized properly. The new law can be located under Section 21658.1 of the vehicle code, which states:
21658.1. (a) For the purposes of this section, “lane splitting” means driving a motorcycle, as defined in Section 400, that has two wheels in contact with the ground, between rows of stopped or moving vehicles in the same lane, including on both divided and undivided streets, roads, or highways.
(b) The Department of the California Highway Patrol may develop educational guidelines relating to lane splitting in a manner that would ensure the safety of the motorcyclist and the drivers and passengers of the surrounding vehicles.
(c) In developing guidelines pursuant to this section, the department shall consult with agencies and organizations with an interest in road safety and motorcyclist behavior, including, but not limited to, all of the following:
- The Department of Motor Vehicles.
- The Department of Transportation.
- The Office of Traffic Safety.
- A motorcycle organization focused on motorcyclist safety.
Thus, in accordance with the law, the California Highway Patrol has drafted educational guidelines for lane splitting. Megeredchian Law aggressively represents and defends the rights of cyclists involved in accidents, but our hope would be that you never find yourself in the position to need a motorcycle accident attorney. Safety is paramount for our firm, which is why we’re reviewing the CHP’s lane splitting guidelines in addition to their application in Glendale, California.
1) Do Not Travel Faster Than 10 MPH Above Surrounding Traffic
While lane splitting is generally safer for motorcycle riders, it can be an extremely dangerous act if certain precautions are not taken. The first guideline outlined by the California Highway Patrol is that riders should not travel any faster than 10 mph above the speed of surrounding traffic if they are going to lane split.
It goes without saying that the faster you travel, the less reaction time you have to respond to changes in your environment. A sudden lane change from a vehicle ahead could send you flying off your bike if you don’t have the time to slow down. Regulating your speed in accordance with the traffic around you will help you maintain control of your bike in an emergency situation.
2) Avoid Splitting Lanes When Traffic Flow Is At Or Above 30 MPH
Similar to the first guideline, the degree of control you possess over your bike is relative to your speed. Moreover, as speed increases, the severity of a crash also increases. For these reasons, the California Highway Patrol does not advise splitting lanes when traffic is traveling at speeds of 30 mph or more.
As a suburb of Los Angeles, Glendale is largely comprised of residential roads capped at 25 mph. The map above highlights many of the major roads in Glendale with speed limits under 30 mph. As you can see, adhering to this guideline is not much of an issue, when traveling through the city. Nevertheless, roads like Central Avenue, Glendale Avenue, San Fernando Road, Colorado Street, and Glenoaks Boulevard all have speed limits of 30 mph or above. Riders should exercise extreme caution when traveling on these roads.
3) Split Between The 1st and 2nd Lane On Multiple Lane Roads
Most road users are accustomed to motorcycles splitting lanes on the furthest left lanes. The state highway patrol has found the split between the first and second lane to be the safest place for motorcyclists to travel. This is especially true on highways and freeways where merging traffic at on-ramps and off-ramps causes a significant amount of lane switching in the rightmost lanes.
This guideline does not have much application for inner-city roads, but it does apply to the highways and freeways surrounding Glendale, like Ventura Freeway, Glendale Freeway, and Golden State Freeway. When possible, use the line between the first and second lane to split on any of the aforementioned highways.
4) Only Split When You Can Fit
If there is even the slightest doubt that you can fit between lanes, then it is in your best interest not to chance it. Varying road conditions can affect your ability to share or split lanes. Variables include the width of the lanes, the width of vehicles in the lanes, and even the width of your own bike. Certain attributes like wide handlebars or saddle bags require more space for you to be able to fit comfortably. This is an immensely relevant concern in Glendale, where many of the residential roads are not very wide.
5) Remain Alert Of Your Surroundings
At the end of the day, the most important thing you can do for your safety is to remain alert at all times. Accidents can occur anywhere at any given time. Your vigilance could end up saving you from injury or worse. Take note of what vehicles around you are doing. Inattentive or distracted drivers will require additional attention, as their driving can be less predictable. Remain prepared to take evasive action should a vehicle change lanes, and avoid lingering in blind spots for very long.
In addition to remaining alert, there are things you can do to alert other drivers of your presence. Riding with brightly colored protective gear or high beams during the daylight will all help increase your visibility on the road.
Glendale is a beautiful city to ride through and the surrounding area isn’t too shabby either. With La Tuna Canyon Park and Angeles National Forest both just north of the city, there are certainly several nearby routes for bike owners to enjoy. Keeping the CHP’s guidelines in mind should help you determine when it’s safe to lane split as you ride. Enjoy the road, but always keep safety top of mind.
When An Accident Occurs, Hire A Motorcycle Accident Attorney You Can Trust
While certain accidents can be avoided by following guidelines and safety tips, some accidents are unavoidable. You will want an experienced motorcycle accident attorney on your side should you find yourself the victim of an unfortunate accident. Alex Megeredchian of Megeredchian Law can help you file your accident claim so that none of the facts surrounding the accident are misinterpreted by adjusters. If liability has been wrongfully decided against you, Alex can help you file suit so you can receive the compensation you deserve. Contact the Glendale accident attorneys at Megeredchian Law today for a free initial consultation.