NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A controversial law permits lane-splitting for motorcyclists in California – but could it ever work in the bustling Tri-State Area?
As CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported, lane-splitting is the practice by motorcyclists of forgoing lanes to drive between cars on highways. Nearly every motorist to whom McLogan spoke on the Long Island Expressway in Queens Wednesday said they have experienced it.
“Lane-splitting – absolutely – very, very dangerous,” one driver said.
Motorcycles race in the tight space between cars and leave motorists nervous. In other parts of the country, lane-splitting is known as white-lining or stripe-riding.
The practice often has horrible consequences. In one accident involving lane-splitting that was caught on video, a biker escaped only with a broken wrist, while in another, a biker suffered a dislocated shoulder.
Under California law, motorcyclists can now lane-split and weave around traffic to avoid gridlock and rear-ending. But the NYPD said within the New York City limits, it is not going to happen.
The NYPD has even gone so far as to close the Long Island Expressway eastbound during rush hour on a Friday to flush out the scofflaws.
Many were not pleased with the move. In a video posted on YouTube, a man complained that he NYPD had shut down all highway traffic just to target motorcyclists.
“Just to close down a freeway to look for that is very difficult for many residents who are driving or commuting,” one woman said.
“(It’s) taking away the rights of people,” another said.
“Motorcyclists were being entrapped,” a third said.
The AAA has come out against lane splitting for safety reasons, but supports rights of innocent motorists caught in a checkpoint.
“Police departments probably realize that the best way of enforcing this type of law is not setting up an artificial situation that would force people to break it,” said AAA spokesman Robert Sinclair.
Studies show lane splitting on a road can read to road rage. One man mentioned to the biker melee on the West Side Highway back in 2013, in which sport-utility vehicle driver Alexian Lien was attacked by a group of angry cyclists while driving with his family.
Further, motorists can be injured when opening a door, adjusting a mirror, changing lanes, and buses and semi-trailers provide little wiggle room.
“Generally, the motorcyclists give us a hard time, and they’re not safe to drive in New York,” one motorist said.
Legislation to legalize lane-splitting is being debated in 20 states. So far, none has following California’s lead.
Proponents in New York said they see lane-splitting working if motorcycles travel no more than15 mph faster than traffic stuck in the lanes.