MY LANE SPLITTING STORY………
REGARDING LANE SPLITTING!
As a former California resident, I took advantage of the traffic law that allows motorcycles to travel between cars when freeway traffic is at a stand-still. In Southern California during rush hour….traffic is almost always at a stand-still. The California Highway Patrol, and the California department of Transportation after exhaustive research, determined that lane splitting eases traffic congestion. Not to mention the fact that many motorcycles are air cooled, the motors of which simply could not survive in the summer without constant air flow. I commuted on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle (air cooled) from Perris, California, to Whittier California every work day for more than twelve years. The distance was approximately 120 miles round trip. Had I not been able to “lane split” I would not have been able to make that long distance commute in anything near a timely fashion, and or the motor would have melted. There are a few hang-ups associated with lane splitting not the least of which is the danger of someone in a car harassing the motorcycle rider who is lane splitting. Then there is the city motorcycle cop (not CHP) most of whom DO NOT know the law, and have a tendency to harass lane splitters. In the twelve years I was a lane splitting commuter I was subjected to spit, thrown trash, thrown bottles, swerving motorists, hot coffee thrown out the drivers side window, drivers opening their door to block me, and on and on. I was also stopped by city cops telling me lane splitting was illegal, but for some reason they never seemed to write a citation. I was probably stopped by those city cops for many reasons other than the lane splitting. Invariably my insurance card was scrutinized Gestapo style, and the cops were without exception rude to fault. They also ran a thorough check in their data base to see if I had any warrants.
In the twelve years of lane splitting I only had one incident where I was injured. I was going right at 35 miles per hour between a semi-truck and a car. The semi hit a little ridge in the pavement surface, which caused the tractor to swerve slightly just as I was passing. The toe of my boot just caught the edge of the bumper. I mean just barely! It caused my boot to snap-up which totally tweaked all the toes on my left foot backwards, they then snapped forward. By the time I got to work, I was crying real tears. But, the biggest mistake I made was taking my boot off. My foot quickly swelled up like a big purple balloon with really big toes. Not funny then….funnier than poop now. That was my wake-up call to quit lane splitting in such a relaxed ‘cavalier” fashion. That incident occurred about halfway through the twelve years of commuting. I never ever hit anything after that, but had some very close calls. One time I hit a pot hole so hard my wheel and tire were egg shaped. It limited my speed tp less than 40 MPH the rest of the way home. I think that wheel is on a clown motorcycle at the circus somewhere.
The Harley-Davidson Dyna-Glide motorcycle I was riding had straight pipes (no mufflers). Loud pipes always save lives as the saying goes. But, loud pipes attract cops. I got pulled over on the way to work for loud pipes, and the cop was so pissed off he was un-intentionally spitting on me when he read me the loud pipes riot act. Or, maybe it was intentional, who knows. He was yelling that my pipes were the loudest exhaust pipes he had ever heard on a street motorcycle. And yes……they were as loud as a Jake brake going down a 7% grade. The cop told me put some mufflers on the exhaust system and if the mufflers met his decibel approval he would sign off the fix-it ticket. I installed some junky off the shelf mufflers, and took the bike the CHP station and asked the desk jockey to call Sergeant Prickette…..his real name I swear. The desk jockey called the Sergeant, who told the desk jockey to have me go back out in the parking and fire up the bike. Sergeant Prickette would listen from inside the building to see if my pipes were too loud. I fire up the bike and revved it up a little, then shut it off. When I got back inside to the desk jockey, he signed off the ticket, but said Sergeant Prickette thought the pipes were still too loud be he was letting me slide. I went straight home and re installed the loud straight pipes before attempting the Monday morning commute. Loud pipes do save lives…..if the car drivers can’t see you, they can at least hear you. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.