AMA petitions to reinstate lane-splitting guidelines in California

Publish Date: 
Jul 23, 2014

PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- The American Motorcyclist Association initiated a petition drive to convince the California Office of Administrative Law to once again offer guidelines on lane splitting on state websites.

The online petition can be found here.

A complaint from a Sacramento man resulted in an Office of Administrative Law order to remove lane-splitting guidelines from websites for the California Highway Patrol, the Department of Motor Vehicles, and brochures and other documents detailing safety information about the practice from offices.

California is the only state in the United States where the practice, supported by the AMA, is legal. The AMA also supports the implementation of lane-splitting laws in other states, coupled with extensive rider and driver education programs.

"Removal of the DMV brochures is a big loss," said Nick Haris, AMA western states representative and a member of the California Motorcyclist Safety Program Advisory Committee, which helped write the guidelines. "The DMV offices and website are the first places California drivers look for information. And this is vital information for them to have."

The CHP also removed references to lane splitting from its online FAQ, where information had been available long before the agency released its guidelines early in 2013.

"Lane splitting is still allowed, and motorcyclists are still using this long-recognized riding technique to relieve traffic congestion and improve safety," Haris said. "But now, neither riders nor motorists have a place to turn for authoritative guidelines on the practice."

The CHP posted its guidelines with the intention of helping motorcyclists and motorists understand safe practices and to discourage unsafe lane splitting.

The guidelines disappeared at the urging of Kenneth Mandler, of Sacramento, Calif., who petitioned the OAL in the fall of 2013, claiming that the CHP guidelines were an "underground regulation" -- a rule that would be enforced, even though it had not been the subject of the Administrative Procedure Act's prescribed process.

"OAL did not issue a legal opinion as to whether the lane splitting guidelines constitute a regulation," OAL Director Debra M. Cornez wrote in an email to the AMA. "Since CHP notified OAL that it would not issue, use, enforce, or attempt to enforce the guidelines, OAL was precluded under the law from addressing the merits of Mr. Mandler's petition. Therefore, OAL never made a determination that the guidelines constituted a regulation."

From a news release