By Bruce Mike

Last month’s Hip column was incorrectly credited to Victor Wanchena. It was written by me and then poorly proof-read by me. I apologize for 178_hipany confusion.

With lane splitting recently becoming legal in California, I think it’s time to look at it in Minnesota. Here is part of the press release regarding the new bill:

SACRAMENTO – Assemblymember Quirk (D-Hayward) and Assemblymember Tom Lackey (R- Palmdale) have successfully granted the California Highway Patrol (CHP) authority to develop educational guidelines on lane splitting.

Lane splitting, which occurs when a motorcycle drives between rows of stopped or moving traffic, is a gray area in California law. This is because statute is silent – California does not explicitly allow it, but also doesn’t explicitly prohibit this behavior.

Recognizing the need to develop guidelines as an education tool for drivers, the CHP convened a committee of traffic safety stakeholders and motorcycle safety experts in 2012. However, an individual filed a complaint that the guidelines were underground regulations. At the suggestion of counsel, CHP removed the guidelines from its website and the Department of Motor Vehicles removed them from the Motorcycle Handbook.

“Removal of the guidelines left a huge gap with regards to traffic safety. CHP had to curtail all education and outreach efforts on lane splitting,” Assemblymember Quirk explained. Last year he partnered with Assemblymember Lackey, a retired California Highway Patrolman, to introduce Assembly Bill (AB) 51.

AB 51 clarifies that the CHP does have authority to develop educational guidelines on lane splitting. It further asks that they convene a group of stakeholders to provide their expert opinion in the drafting of the guidelines. “There are motorcyclists that lane split safely and others that disregard all safety considerations – those are the drivers this bill will help the most,” Assemblymember Quirk stated.

Entire press release can be found here —

Now that a bill has been passed to allow lane splitting, it will give other states leverage to make it legal. While normally I’m not in favor of more motorcycle regulations, this one I can get behind. Lane splitting is safer for motorcyclists in heavy traffic situations and allows for much smoother and quicker commuting. For many years I had a long commute and riding a motorcycle made it much more tolerable. If I would have been able to legally lane split, it would have been even better.

Far more important than my own personal happiness, is the idea of legislation that makes motorcycle riding better for everyone. What a great world it would be if more people rode motorcycles. Safer, quicker commuting may encourage more folks to start riding. More riders would mean less car drivers using their phones. I think we can all agree, that would be better for everyone.


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