Bikers in traffic

As much as we at our Manchester, NH Harley-Davidson dealership love the bikes we ride and may want to put the pedal to the medal and cut through bumper-to-bumper traffic, we know the law. We’re restricted to the lane we’re in when we ride our bikes. In California, it’s a different story: motorcyclists can weave through the lanes between cars and keep driving forward, a practice known as “lane-splitting.” Currently, California is the only state where lane-splitting is allowed, but according to a Wall Street Journal article, legislators want to legalize it in other states. Lawmakers and motorcyclists are pushing the legislation forward as an attempt to reduce highway congestion and speed up commutes.

The move is being contested, however, by some traffic-safety officials and many automobile drivers who think lane-splitting is just too dangerous. Drivers are naturally hesitant to see bikers narrowly zipping past them in tight traffic. Over 60 percent of drivers stated they were against the practice of lane-splitting in a traffic-safety survey from last year, because they felt it was unsafe, frightening or just an outright unfair advantage for bikers.

Initial reactions are one thing, but facts are another. According to a recent study from the California Office of Traffic Safety, as long as motorcyclists only split lanes in slow traffic and never traveled more than 10 mph faster than the other vehicles, injury and fatality numbers stayed low. In fact, the study found that they were less likely to be injured or die in lane-splitting crashes than they were in the other types of car accidents. A spokesman for the California traffic-safety office added, “Lane splitting, when done in a safe and prudent manner, is no more dangerous than regular motorcycling.”

What do you think, Harley-Davidson fans? Are you itching to split some lanes here in New Hampshire and speed up your travel times? Or do you think that’s one idea that should stay in California? We’ll have to wait and see how the new bills shake out, but it’s a topic worth keeping our eyes on!