January 1, 2017 will be the first day California’s new lane-splitting law goes into effect. That means that motorcycles will legally be able to drive between cars when California traffic is moving at a crawl. But how will this new law affect California and the rest of the country? Will it be a giant leap forward in motorcycle safety, or the beginning to a new era of crashes?
Is It Time to Make Lane-Splitting Legal in Colorado?
In 49 of the 50 United States of America, lane-splitting is illegal. California was the only outlier, allowing lane-splitting though it was neither legal or illegal. Well that changed Friday August 19th.
California Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 51 into California law, and suddenly lane-splitting became legal in one state of the Union. The bill was the brain child of Assemblyman Bill Quirk and retired state highway patrol sergeant, Assemblyman Tom Lackey. The bill defines the practice of driving a motorcycle between lanes in dense traffic a legal maneuver, and it allows the California Highway Patrol to publish guidelines to doing so safely. The bill has been regarded as a victory by motorcycle advocates all over the nation, because it opens the country up to so many possibilities.
You see, lane-splitting has long been maligned by car drivers as unsafe. However, motorcycles avoiding traffic by riding between cars is a widely accepted practice all over the world. In scientific studies, lane-splitting has been shown to reduce traffic and cut carbon emissions. These studies have even proved that lane-splitting can improve motorcycle safety. So why hasn’t the practice spread through the whole country?
Cars and other four-wheeled vehicles rule America’s road, and most drivers have false concepts about what lane-splitting is really about. But California’s new law could be the opportunity for motorcyclists all over the country to prove them wrong.
The word about lane-splitting has been growing and many states have already seen bills trying to legalize the practice, but none have passed. Last year, Colorado had a bill to legalize lane-splitting moving through the legislature, but opponents managed block it. This new victory in California could make a new bill here harder to stop.
To stay on top of this development keep following your motorcycling attorneys on our blog, Facebook and Twitter. And don’t forget, the only way for motorcyclists to protect their rights and safety is to speak up. So contact your government representatives, and let them know that if lane-splitting is good enough for California, it’s good enough for Colorado too.