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What's Bugging You? Motorcycle lane-splitting

July 8, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Commuting is a challenge on a good day in Los Angeles. But Eyewitness News viewers say motorcycles are bugging them.

Motorcycles and cars -- they share the road, but often don't get along.

"They think they own the road," said Buena Park motorist Bev Campbell.

Campbell sent an e-mail about motorcyclists and "lane-splitting." She commutes from Buena Park to El Segundo.

"I've had motorcyclists use hand gestures and just push me away like they should have the entire lane, and it's not right," said Campbell.

The issue of lane-splitting is something that confuses many drivers. The vehicle code says it is legal only if done safely.

Car drivers say sometimes motorcyclists cross the line -- literally.

We caught one motorcyclist riding between two sets of double-yellow lines on the 105 Freeway. A short time later he cut across them to change lanes.

"We do get a lot of motorcycles that are in the carpool lane, attempting to pass vehicles in the carpool lane, by use of crossing the white line and the double-yellow lines, which is a violation," said California Highway Patrol Officer Donnell Holmes. "We have that on a continuous basis. It's on the rise right now. It's becoming a serious issue."

When lane-splitting, it's usually considered unsafe to ride more than 10 miles faster than the speed of traffic. Campbell says she saw one cyclist speeding through traffic that was almost seriously hurt.

"Then he stopped and there was a pickup truck in front of me, and then he clipped the truck and I just saw him fly across all four lanes, and thank god there was no cars driving by," said Campbell.

"Lane sharing is not illegal, and actually, for a motorcycle rider it could be a very good thing to do," said Ty van Hooydonk, Motorcycle Safety Association. "But you want to do it in the right way. You should not be doing 50 miles per hour through stopped traffic."

Motorcycle activists complain car drivers sometimes try to block them, and an accident could cost them their lives. They say a motorcycle means there's one less car on the road.

"As we're moving through traffic, we're actually not contributing to traffic. We're making traffic better for everyone else out there," said van Hooydonk.

Whether on two wheels or four wheels, all of us have to share the road and fight traffic. A little courtesy from all of us might make the drive more pleasant.


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