Why Lane Splitting May Save Lives on NYC Roads

Motorcycle riding is a thrilling pursuit – yet it’s also highly dangerous in areas with high traffic density. The numbers back this up: Nearly 150 motorcyclists are killed and roughly 1,600 injured in New York every year.

There is, however, a riding technique that appears to make traveling by motorcycle safer: Lane splitting.

Lane Splitting Explained

Lane splitting (sometimes called “whitelining” or “striperiding”) is a riding technique used when riding a bicycle or motorcycle in traffic. The vehicle is driven between lanes (or rows of traffic) during periods of traffic congestion. In other words, if you’re stuck in a traffic jam, you may see a motorcyclist navigating the space between your vehicle and the vehicle driving parallel to you in the next lane.

Lane splitting allows drivers to save time and help ease traffic congestion. Yet it also plays a more important role: Improving safety for riders.

How Lane Splitting May Make Motorcycle Travel Safer But is it Legal?

While many traffic safety experts initially believed lane splitting was more dangerous than following traffic, that view has been reevaluated.

A research study conducted by the University of California showed that lane splitting is actually safer than  sitting in traffic or slow rolling if undertaken at relatively slow speeds. It was also determined that most lane splitting accidents were the result of riders moving with excessive speed through lanes.

Why is this important?

Because motorcycle riders are at much greater risk than car and truck drivers during periods of traffic congestion. Because they are exposed to the elements and have little protection, a rear-end collision can lead to devastating injuries or even death for motorcycle and bicycle riders.

The bottom line of the report?

Based upon the report, lane splitting works and may actually keep you safer – but only if you move at relatively low speeds.

But most importantly — Is Lane Splitting legal in New York?

The answer is no.

The use of multiple vehicles in one lane is actually illegal in New York. Each vehicle must be separately operated in each driving space on the roadway. If you operate a motorcycle alongside another vehicle – you have violated the law.

Are the Studies Correct ?

Ask yourself – When you are operating a car, truck or bus – and a motorcycle or bike pulls into your lane – is it a surprise ? Don’t you think – “lucky I wasn’t about to change lanes” ? Doesn’t the practice leave you a bit uneasy?

If the answer is yes, then you have your answer. The driving approach may work in a perfect world but drivers have varying levels of skills and it may be a bit imprudent to lane split – and therefore — you may not only be violating the law – but also be held comparatively negligent if an accident occurs.

Finding the Right NYC Motorcycle Attorney

At The Frankel Law Firm we’ve been representing accident victims for more than four decades. Accidents are often complex with many contributing factors. An experienced and knowledgeable lawyer can distill the facts, apply the law and give you guidance on how to proceed. The lawyer can then advise you as to whether you have a good case. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help. Call for a free consultation.

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