California becomes first state to legally recognize lane splitting

Gov. Brown signs A.B. 51, directing
California Highway Patrol to draft guidelines

PICKERINGTON, OH – August 19, 2016 – (Motor Sports Newswire) –  Gov. Jerry Brown signed A.B. 51 into law today, making California the first state to legally recognize lane splitting, the practice in which motorcyclists ride between lanes of traffic.

The bill, sponsored by Assemblymembers Bill Quirk (D-Hayward) and Tom Lackey (R- Palmdale), grants the California Highway Patrol the authority to develop and issue lane-splitting guidelines in consultation with motorcycle safety groups and riders.

160819 AMA motorcyclist splitting lanes

“This is great news for motorcyclists in California and throughout the country,” said Rob Dingman, president and CEO of the American Motorcyclist Association. “The California Assembly and the governor have taken a huge step in formally recognizing a practice that has been in use for decades.

“Lane splitting keeps riders safer by eliminating their exposure to rear-end collisions, and it helps ease congestion by effectively removing motorcycles from the traffic lanes.”

Studies by the University of California at Berkeley show that splitting lanes is a relatively safe maneuver when both the motorcyclist and nearby drivers know the law and adhere to safe and prudent driving practices.

In 2012, the CHP developed guidelines for splitting lanes, posting them online in 2013 and including them in the Motorcycle Handbook distributed by the Department of Motor Vehicles. However, a citizen complained in 2014 that the guidelines were “underground regulations” put together by a state agency, rather than the legislature. So the CHP and DMV removed them.

A.B. 51 clarifies that the CHP does have authority to develop educational guidelines on lane splitting. The law also removes the practice from the legal gray area, where it was neither expressly prohibited nor approved.

Several other states, including Nevada, Georgia, Washington, Oregon and Texas, have considered legislation during the past two years that would have made lane splitting legal, with certain restrictions.

“We hope that other states will follow California’s lead on this issue,” Dingman said. “The AMA is here to support individuals, groups and legislators who want lane splitting made legal in their states, too.”

The American Motorcyclist Association’s complete position statement on lane splitting can be found here:

About the American Motorcyclist Association

Founded in 1924, the AMA is a not-for-profit member-based association whose mission is to promote the motorcycle lifestyle and protect the future of motorcycling. As the world’s largest motorcycling rights and event sanctioning organization, the AMA advocates for riders’ interests at all levels of government and sanctions thousands of competition and recreational events every year. The AMA also provides money-saving discounts on products and services for its members. Through the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in Pickerington, Ohio, the AMA honors the heroes and heritage of motorcycling. For more information, visit

Not a member? Join the AMA today.

Source: American Motorcyclist Association




  1. This is bad news for motorcyclists. In other states motorcycles have the exclusive right to the entire width of the lane they are in. This prevents others (in particular – automobiles and trucks) from ‘squeezing’ the motorcyclist riding in their own lane. This cannot be true of lane splitting motorcyclists who may technically be in 2 lanes at once. This means that in California, motorcyclist do not have exclusive rights to the lane space they are in as in other states. This will undoubtedly result in many more injuries and deaths of motorcyclists.
    This is a very bad idea, guys.

    • Well, that has always been the law. It’s called “lane sharing” that is how we were able to lane split up until now.

      Don’t see how this will equate into more deaths.

    • That is not how it works in CA. If you are in a lane, a car may not “turf you out” of it… In other words, they cannot initiate the lane split; only bikes can. It’s been done for decades here, but has neither been legal or illegal… so what this law does is officially make lane splitting legal, and keep cagers from purposely “pinching down” to cut off a lane splitter.

Comments are closed.