Motorbikes and Lane Splitting

Question

Frans asked:

Question 1: As I understand, lane splitting is illegal except when the width of the lane (14 ft minimum) provides enough space for two vehicles. A motorbike is not much wider than a bicycle, which makes you think, is a motorbike allowed to lane split if the lane is wide enough? Or are the exceptions to lane splitting only allowed when one vehicle is a bicycle?

Question 2: On an approximate 12-foot wide lane. I am riding my bike about 3 feet from the edge. A motorbike passes me in the same lane, is that legal?

FYI, I am both a cyclist and a motorbike rider.

Answer

We usually reserve this site for questions and discussion of the laws related to bicycling, but I’ll give this a try.

Some definitions:

s. 316.003 – Definitions

(21) Motor Vehicle – …. a self-propelled vehicle not operated upon rails or guideway, but not including any bicycle, motorized scooter, electric personal assistive mobility device, swamp buggy, or moped.

(22) Motorcycle – Any motor vehicle having a seat or saddle for the use of the rider and designed to travel on not more than three wheels in contact with the ground, but excluding a tractor or a moped.

(77) Moped – Any vehicle with pedals to permit propulsion by human power, having a seat or saddle for the use of the rider and designed to travel on not more than three wheels; with a motor rated not in excess of 2 brake horsepower and not capable of propelling the vehicle at a speed greater than 30 miles per hour on level ground; and with a power-drive system that functions directly or automatically without clutching or shifting gears by the operator after the drive system is engaged. If an internal combustion engine is used, the displacement may not exceed 50 cubic centimeters.

Since these are the only traffic law definitions of motorized cycles (Other than motorized bicycle) and you didn’t specify that your vehicle is a moped, we must assume it is a motorcycle. The law is specific about both of your questions. Lane splitting by motorcycle drivers is not allowed and drivers of motorcycles may not pass another vehicle, including a bicycle, within the same lane, no matter the width of the lane.

s. 316.209Operating Motorcycles on Roadways Laned for Traffic

(1) All motorcycles are entitled to full use of a lane and no motor vehicle shall be driven in such manner as to deprive any motorcycle of the full use of a lane. This subsection shall not apply to motorcycles operated two abreast in a single lane.

(2) The operator of a motorcycle shall not overtake and pass in the same lane occupied by the vehicle being overtaken.

(3) No person shall operate a motorcycle between lanes of traffic or between adjacent lines or rows of vehicles.

(4) Motorcycles shall not be operated more than two abreast in a single lane.

Seems strange that a driver of a car can pass a bicycle within a wide lane, but not a motorcycle. However, that is what the law says. That is not the case for bicyclists. See the links at the end of this post.

Some states apparently permit lane splitting, and there is a move to legalize it in Florida. See this extract and the full article at this link:

“Traffic congestion in Florida continues to increase. One inexpensive, simple, effective, and immediate way to reduce traffic congestion is to permit motorcyclists to travel between two slow moving lanes of traffic. Doing so adds capacity to every existing four-lane road in the entire state of Florida. In California where “lane-splitting” is legal, common place, and has been found to enhance motorcycle safety, it is embraced as a significant component of traffic congestion reduction.”

https://www.change.org/p/legalize-lane-splitting-in-florida-state

Here are some other posts that are related.

http://flbikelaw.org/2011/06/queue-jumping-bicyclists/

http://commuteorlando.com/wordpress/2008/09/08/cue-jumping/

http://flbikelaw.org/2012/02/passing-on-the-right/

Posted in Ask Geo, Lane Width & Sharing, Overtaking & Passing
7 comments on “Motorbikes and Lane Splitting
  1. Frans Andrea says:

    Thank you.
    The funny part. Motorbike Re allowed to ride two abreast. Of corse as long as they do not pass each other.
    Anyhow, it does clarify my questions. A shame that motorcyclist had to be single out on
    Lane splitting.
    Thanks

  2. Alvilda says:

    If you’re riding two abreast, when does it constitute “passing in the same lane” when you stop riding two abreast? For example, when the other motorcyclist is ahead of me, and I catch up to him at a stop light, then we ride abreast for a while, then he slows down to prepare for an upcoming right turn and I pass him. Is this illegal as passing in the same lane, or is this legal as riding abreast until one driver exits the lane? It seems that these laws directly contradict each other.

  3. Geo says:

    Alvilda,

    I believe “overtaking and passing” would be a single continuous act. Coming abreast and riding there would be one act. If one party slows, speeds up or turns away after some time period, that would seem to be a separate non-continuous act and not in violation of the statute.

  4. Joe says:

    My only gripe, if a biker goes past me,splitting, and I miss the light and he makes it is this right?

  5. Necromonger says:

    As for those damn gang of motorcyclist bullying and endangering peoples lives following the laws of the road but the motorcyclist on courtney campbell highway like to make up laws and whats worst the police of tampa bay dont know the law and how to enforce real law of land

  6. kris says:

    Though land splitting is illegal in FL can a motorcycle ride the shoulder to pass heavy traffic, 30 mph or less?

  7. Geo says:

    Kris,
    No. See the recent post for the details and laws.
    http://flbikelaw.org/2017/03/motorcycles-on-a-paved-shoulder/

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