Know the Road with the CHP: When can motorcycles split lanes?

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- An ABC30 viewer sent in the following question: is it legal for motorcycles to split lanes? If so, when?

"The answer is yes, in California it's legal for motorcycles to split between two lanes to travel in the same direction," said Sgt. Brian Pennings with the California Highway Patrol.

"A lot of times people wonder why, why is that? That doesn't seem right. They're cheating they're cutting in line."

"When a motorcycle is splitting traffic, it is allowing the air to go across the engine," Pennings said. "Most of these motorcycles are air-cooled, and sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic will overheat very quickly if air is not moving across their engines."

However, splitting lanes at high speeds is not recommended, and if an officer deems it too fast to be safe, motorcyclists can be cited.

"If traffic is moving 25 miles an hour, or thereabouts, there really is no need for the motorcyclists to split traffic," he said. "It is not recommended to split traffic in any condition if the traffic is moving more than 35 miles per hour."

Pennings added that it's also illegal for other drivers on the road to prevent motorcyclists from splitting lanes, either by pinching off lanes or opening their doors.

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