Lane-Splitting in California

lane splitting

California is the only state where lane-splitting (or filtering) is legal.  By legal, I mean that it is permitted, but there are no official laws regarding the practice:

California law does not allow or prohibit motorcycles from passing other vehicles proceeding in the same direction within the same lane, a practice often called “lane splitting,” “lane sharing” or “filtering.” (DMV.ca.gov)

Lane-slitting is when a motorcyclist rides between two lanes of traffic moving in the same direction in order to avoid being rear-ended, which accounts for about a quarter of all accidents involving a motorcycle and car.

The debate between both motorcyclists and motorists who oppose the practice and those that support it has been ongoing for years now.  Studies and statistics aside, bikers have been slitting lanes in California for decades and most of those who share the road with them are likely not even aware of the ambiguity surrounding its legality.

A bill was put forth last year (AB 51) attempting to put guidelines on the practice, thus making it legal with certain restrictions.  AB 51 was authored by Assemblyman Dan Quirk (D-Hayward) and included guidelines such as speed limits while lane-splitting (motorcyclists could go no faster than 15 MPH above the moving traffic and no faster than 50 MPH overall).  A two-year study on lane-splitting by UC Berkeley concluded that riders who employed the practice were safer than those who sat in place in traffic, thus increasing their vulnerability to be hit from behind. AB51 has been put aside for now so supporters can have more time to work on the measure.

There are car drivers who intensely dislike lane-splitting and even some who go out of their way to inhibit it by blocking the motorcyclist’s way or, incredibly, opening car doors on them.  While this is not the norm, it is of note here because of the amount of tourists California has on the road at any given time.  Riders who rent motorcycles here in California should bear in mind that although the practice of lane-splitting is not new, it is still disliked by many local drivers who view it as an unsafe and unfair way for motorcyclists to avoid traffic.  In addition, there is also danger from out-of-state drivers who might not be aware of lane-splitting.

If you have questions or concerns about lane-splitting, be sure to talk to the guys at OC Motorcycle when you rent your bike and route your trip. Vigilance is the key when riding a motorcycle and if you are new to riding or not familiar with California driving and traffic patterns, lane-splitting should be avoided.

OC Entertainment Venues: The Coach House

coach house

The Coach House has been a staple in Orange County for as long as I can remember. I cannot count the number of shows that I have seen here over the past thirty years, but it is quite a few.

Located in San Juan Capistrano, the Coach House has a full bar and dinner menu is just about Orange County’s only independent live music venue. It seats close to 500 people, which means that whoever you see here, it will be an intimate experience. Their yearly line-up is varied and interesting and features local artists, fantastic cover and tribute bands and top-notch artists from every music genre. I have seen blues greats Buddy Guy and Albert Collins here as well as classic acts like Gordon Lightfoot, Donovan and Mick Taylor; rising stars like the Black Crowes before they were big and fantastic tribute bands like Mick Adams and the Stones, Desperado and Wild Child.

Dinner reservations are encouraged and will get you a seat closer to the stage, but be aware that the seating is “roadhouse style” and you will be sitting with strangers at long wooden tables. Drinks and food are on the overpriced side, but the service is usually very good. When the room is packed to capacity, it can get rather stuffy inside and the only reprieve from the heat is to step outside onto the patio, which is most commonly used a smoking section.

Despite the rustic, old school atmosphere, the Coach House should be lauded and patronized for its commitment to high quality acts and being able to withstand the test of time. The Coach House is located at 33157 Camino Capistrano in San Juan Capistrano. Check their website for upcoming shows and to view their dinner menu.

The Coach House is about 25 miles south of OC Motorcycle and is conveniently located near Dana Point Harbor for daytime fun like whale watching.

Day Trip: Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear

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With spring comes warmer weather and the thawing of snow in our local Southern California mountains. There’s nothing quite like turning off the freeway and heading up into higher elevations, twisty mountain roads and pine-scented fresh air.

Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear are located in the San Bernadino mountain range and are within easy riding distance of OC Motorcycle. Heading north on CA-57 you will then need to continue east on CA-60, then north again on CA-15 and east on CA-210 before hitting CA-18, known as the “Rim of the World” highway for its breathtaking views of the valley below. Be aware of heavy traffic on weekends and that the area is regularly patrolled by the CHP and local police, so watch your speed. Riding time is approximately an hour and a half.

Lake Arrowhead is a lovely mountain town with the charm of an Alpine village. Although Lake Arrowhead itself is privately owned, Lake Gregory draws fishermen, nature lovers and water skiers in the summer months while the two villages, Lake Arrowhead and Blue Jay, offer shopping and dining in abundance. From May until September, the Summer Concert Series entertains locals and visitors alike with quality tribute bands that cover nearly every important artist from the Beatles, the Doors, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd to Depeche Mode and Garth Brooks. Concerts are free and take place on the main stage in Lake Arrowhead Village. In October, the town puts on one of the best Octoberfests in Southern California. Be sure and visit Wildhaven Ranch sanctuary, home to indigenous critters that are unable to live in the wild anymore.

My local friend recommends several restaurants to eat at including Hortencia’s Mexican Restaurant, Lou Eddie’s Pizza and the grill at the Antlers Inn. If you plan on staying overnight, accommodations can be booked through Lake Arrowhead Retreats (Arrowhead Retreats).

If you intend to head to Big Bear also, you’ll need to get back onto CA-18 and then CA-38, a nice scenic highway that at one point achieves the distinction of being one of the highest roads in Southern California. Big Bear is about another hour and a half ride from Lake Arrowhead.

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Big Bear Lake offers all manner of water sports from kayaking to paddle boarding and, of course, fishing. In addition, the town offers visitors hiking, parasailing, helicopter rides, horseback riding, golf and even bowling. Big Bear is home to one of the country’s only alpine solar observatories and there is a zoo, too!

Fun and delicious dining can be had all over the village from Noble Roman’s Pizza, Big Bear Mountain Brewery, The Cowboy Steakhouse & Saloon and The Cave where live music sets the pace every weekend.

Both Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear offer hiking and camping, but you’ll need to obtain a California Adventure Pass which can be purchased at the Lake Arrowhead Ranger Station or Visitors Center as well as some local businesses.

If you are looking for the perfect escape from the city, Big Bear and Lake Arrowhead are the perfect destinations for a day or weekend trip. And with the beautiful scenery and fresh mountain air, getting there on a motorcycle is a big part of the pleasure. Be sure and call OC Motorcycle to reserve a bike or two and hit the highway soon!