Category Archives: law

Is Lane Splitting Legal in New York?

Answer: No.

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Two laws in the New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law (VTL) make lane splitting illegal

One law prohibits a motorcyclist from passing another vehicle in the same lane. The other law prohibits riding a motorcycle between lanes or vehicles.

  • NYS VTL § 1252 (b) states, “The operator of a motorcycle shall not overtake and pass in the same lane occupied by the vehicle being overtaken.”
  • NYS VTL § 1252 (c) states, “No person shall operate a motorcycle between lanes of traffic or between adjacent lines or rows of vehicles.”

One State Where Lane Splitting Is Legal

California has gone through stages of lane splitting legality. Prior to 2013, it wasn’t specifically prohibited but a motorcyclist could have been ticketed for another violation such as improper passing, changing lane unsafely or reckless driving which are violations in NY. In 2013, the California Highway Patrol issued guidelines for allowable lane splitting, for which they would not issue a summons. On January 1, 2017, a law went into effect making lane splitting, with some limitations, legal.

States Where Lane Splitting Is Not Illegal

According to the Motorcycle Legal Foundation, there is no law in the following 12 states which prohibit lane splitting: Montana, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia, North Carolina, Delaware, and DC.

Lane Splitting in Other Countries

Lane splitting is legal in Europe and Asia.

Arguments in Favor of Lane Splitting

— Less time in traffic for car drivers & reduced carbon emissions: Wired.com reported that a 2012 study by Belgian research firm Transport & Mobility Leuven found replacing 10% of cars with motorcycles would cut time stuck in traffic by 63% for all drivers including cars and cut carbon emissions by 6%, due to  smoother traffic flow.

— Safety: Motorcycle safety consultant Steve Guderian wrote in an August 2011 study, “Seemingly counter-intuitive, traffic filtering is actually a viable safety technique that removes the motorcycle and rider from the danger spot behind a stopped car, and places the motorcycle into the more secure safety envelope that is created between two larger vehicles.”

— Prevents motorcycle engine overheating.

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Motorcycle Profiling

What is motorcycle profiling?

There are several definitions but generally, motorcycle profiling is:

  1. When law enforcement officers target only motorcycles such as a motorcycle-only checkpoint or
  2. A traffic stop where the reason for the stop is that you’re on a motorcycle or wearing motorcycle clothing or a motorcycle club’s patch/colors.

The AMA describes profiling as, “Profiling means the illegal use of the fact that a person rides a motorcycle or wears motorcycle-related apparel as a factor when law enforcement officers decide to stop and question, take enforcement action, arrest or search a person or vehicle with or without a legal basis.”

On 12/11/2018, the U.S. Senate condemned motorcycle profiling in an anti-profiling resolution, Senate Res. 154, by unanimous consent. But a resolution is not a law. So why doesn’t the Senate make it illegal?

New Jersey passed legislation in 2015 (A. 2316) specifically forbidding the profiling of motorcyclists. Since New Jersey is next door to New York, perhaps New York can follow soon.

Motorcycle-only checkpoints result in undeserved animosity towards the police and annoying tickets, which are an unfair motorcycle tax, for extremely minor violations. The animosity is undeserved because police officers set up checkpoints because they are ordered to.

At one motorcycle-only checkpoint, I saw at Bike Night, although many motorcycles were stopped only one ticket was issued to a motorcyclist in his 70’s on an Indian cruiser for underglow lights he didn’t know was illegal. There was no valid reason to stop so many motorcycles and a warning for the under glowlights would have been sufficient.

This video clearly shows profiling

What to Do If You Are Stopped Because of Motorcycle Profiling

If you believe you were profiled, hire a traffic lawyer to fight the tickets. File a FOIL request or ask your traffic lawyer to do it.

Contact the Motorcycle Profiling Project. Email the following details of your profiling stop to [email protected]:

  • Date of the traffic stop
  • Time
  • Location
  • Name of police or sheriff’s department
  • Length of time you were stopped; and
  • Any other details you think are important.

Contact Your Political Representatives to Stop Motorcycle Profiling

If you believe motorcycle profiling by law enforcement agencies is wrong and should be ended, use the link below contact your representatives in Congress and ask them to support the Motorcycle Profiling Resolution (H.Res.318 and S.Res.154).

The Motorcycle Riders Foundation is working with the National Council of Clubs and the Motorcycle Profiling Project to call on our elected officials to end unconstitutional profiling of motorcyclists across our county. If your member of Congress has signed on, you can still ask them to lean on their colleagues to support these resolutions.

TAKE ACTION NOW: Tell Congress that pulling over a motorcyclist because of his clothes, cut or bike is discriminatory

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