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Sunday, January 1, 2017

San Luis Obispo, CA - New 2017 law aims to clarify motorcycle lane-splitting rules

Starting this Sunday, motorcyclists can legally move freely in and out of traffic, splitting lanes on the roadways.

"I think anything to prevent riders who are kind of invisible most of the time anyway, to be able to be more visible, to get out of harm's way more quickly or be more proactive rather than reactive, I think is a good idea," said motorcycle rider Thomas Richards.

The law allows motorcycle riders to drive between rows of stopped or moving cars.

"I'll go up to the front because there you can be seen," said Melody Curren, motorcycle rider.

Technically, this practice has neither been illegal or legal. It simply has fallen into a gray area, considered to be okay by law enforcement.

"It helps with our commuting, it helps with so many different aspects of traffic flow," said Sgt. Russell Mengel, Santa Maria Police Department.

"I always like to ride in front of the cars also, but by splitting lanes you're just taking your life into your own hands. People aren't expecting someone to fly by at 20 or 30 miles faster than they are driving," said motorcycle rider Ramon Diaz.

Others object to the new law completely.

"There's a reason they call them 'donor cycles'. They are dangerous enough. I don't think people should lane split," said Gary Stoner, a San Luis Obispo resident who rode motorcycles for 30 years.

"I think it's extremely dangerous for both the motorcyclist and the vehicle driver. Sometimes they do it so quickly and I have had them cut in front me so quickly, that I slam on my brakes," said Bonnie Louwerens, San Luis Obispo resident.

But motorcyclists say they feel safer being out in front of the stop and go traffic.

"I absolutely feel safer lane splitting hands down," said motorcycle rider Alex Katz.

Motorcyclists can now lane split through traffic on any roadway, at stop signs or lights, but riders can not go over the speed limit to do so.  

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