When there are traffic jams and vehicles simply aren’t moving, you may see some motorcyclists riding between the lanes and over the white dashed lines. This allows them to pass stopped or slowed vehicles on highways and roads, and it’s commonly referred to as “lane splitting,””stripe-riding,” “filtering,” or “white-lining.” This move is common in several countries where there is dense traffic and a large number of two-wheeled vehicles.
In the United States, however, lane splitting is regarded as risky. While those who support this maneuver say it’s safer for a motorcyclist to lane split than to ride down the middle part of a stop-and-go traffic lane with lots of vehicles on it, other drivers may be annoyed or alarmed by motorcyclists passing them between the lanes. It can also raise questions about liability and safety.
Lane Splitting in Colorado
In Colorado and 48 other states, lane splitting is not legal. California is the only state that expressly allows this maneuver. In Colorado, a motorcycle may share a lane, or “co-ride,” with one other motorcycle legally.
If you are caught lane splitting in Colorado, it’s considered a traffic infraction. The fine goes up to $100 and you may have points added to your license, which can increase your insurance premiums or result in license suspension if you already had points and this put you over the state threshold. If your lane splitting causes an accident, you can also be held liable in a personal injury claim.
It’s worth noting that bicyclists are also not allowed to lane split in Colorado. According to state law, those on bicycles must ride in the designated bike lane or stay on the lane’s right side. Like motorcyclists, bicyclists can ride next to each other but can’t impede traffic by doing so.
In the past, lawmakers in Colorado have tried to pass bills that would allow lane splitting. In 2016, the House voted against a bill that would have removed the ban on motorcyclists lane splitting as long as the motorcyclist was going no more than 15 miles per hour and the vehicles they are riding next to are going no more than five miles per hour.
Since lane splitting is illegal in Colorado, it is likely that a motorcyclist will receive some sort of liability if they are involved in an accident while they’re splitting lanes. However, every situation is different, and the best course of action is to always avoid scenarios that are more likely to result in an accident. For a motorcyclist, this means exercising a lot of caution in congested areas, following traffic laws, clearly signaling, and avoiding the blind spots of other drivers. Drivers should always be aware of their surroundings, allow plenty of distance for motorcyclists, and avoid cutting off or startling motorcyclists who are lane splitting.
If you have been involved in an accident with lane splitting, speak to an experienced attorney, like a motorcycle accident lawyer in Denver, CO, about your case today.
Thanks to the Law Office of Richard J. Banta, P.C. for their insight into lane splitting in Colorado.