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I read somewhere that California has a tradition of lane splitting due to the fact that it was an early adopter of multiple controlled access freeways that would be often have traffic jams for miles. Most early motorcycles would overheat if not moving, so motorcyclists had a high incentive to drive between stopped cars in a traffic jam. This tradition continues to the present day, even though legality of lane splitting is still not defined in California. The American tradition of that which is not prohibited is allowed, still applies in this case.

This is actually still a problem with some air-cooled bikes, and a lot of even the common beginner bikes made up into the 00s are air-cooled. The bike overheating aside, when you're sitting stopped on 101 near Mineta airport on a gasoline-powered heater, you will overheat too.

Actually lane splitting has been legislated in the past year and is definitely legal when not >15mph faster than nearby cars.

What I read is that what "lane splitting" is was legally defined in 2016 but the action was not officially sanctioned or made illegal. Illegal lane splitting is covered under reckless driving. You can see some of the CHP recommended guidelines here[1]. If you have a reference for the lane-splitting legislation, I'd appreciate it as a California rider myself.


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