Lane Splitting is one of the most controversial issues in the motorcycle world. While some think it’s dangerous, others argue it can help prevent accidents. In this article, we’ll talk about whether it’s legal for motorcyclists to lane split and Colorado’s current laws.
What Is the Definition of Lane-Splitting?
Lane-splitting is when a motorcyclist rides between two lanes, on the line, rather than in between the lines. Only motorcyclists can do it, because of their small and narrow profile. As such, they can “split” lanes and ride between them.
Does Colorado Law permit Lane-Splitting?
Lane splitting is illegal in Colorado. The Colorado Department of Transportation’s Motorcycle Laws makes it clear that lane splitting is illegal. According to CDOT regulations, “passing or overtaking a vehicle in the same lane is prohibited by law in Colorado.”
Motorcycles can, however, share a lane known as “co-riding.” Co-riding is limited to one other vehicle, so a total of two motorcycles can share one lane.
In 2016, the Colorado House Committee rejected a proposed bill that was intended to allow lane-splitting in Colorado. That said, a new bill has recently emerged as a repeal of the previously rejected bill. The proposed bill requires CDOT to conduct research on the safety of lane splitting, which may potentially legalize it in Colorado. We’ll discuss this in further detail at the end of the article.
Colorado General Assembly’s Motorcycle Lane-Splitting Laws
Colorado’s General Assembly has explicit laws regarding motorcycle operations around other motor vehicles. Specifically, drivers of a motorcycle are prohibited from driving around vehicles to block lanes of traffic moving in the same direction.
Here are a few more specifications from the Colorado General Assembly’s Lane-Splitting House Bill (HB16-1205):
- Motorcycle drivers may not drive between rows of traffic or overtake on the right-hand side.
- Motorcycles can drive between rows of traffic or overtake on the right side only if traffic is going at a speed of 5 mph or less or if:
- If a motorcycle wants to pass a car going in the same direction and under five mph
- The motorcycle is traveling under 15 mph
- The motorcycle does not exceed the vehicle it’s passing by over ten mph
- If a vehicle is using the right shoulder, motorcycles cannot legally pass or overtake.
The Debate on Lane-Splitting: Is It Safe or Dangerous?
This may depend on who you ask. For example, a motorcycle rider might tell you that they feel safer if they are allowed to lane split. Let’s look at some other supporting arguments in favor of lane splitting.
First, people who ride motorcycles argue that lane-splitting is a safety mechanism for motorcyclists. For example, lane splitting may be able to help prevent motorcyclists from getting rear-ended or sandwiched between two cars. During heavy traffic or rush hour, when there is a lot of stop-and-go, cars can easily bump into motorcyclists.
Furthermore, allowing motorcyclists to lane split could reduce congestion and carbon emissions. Lastly, advocates say that motorcycles need to be able to get out of traffic quickly if inclement weather arises. Rain, fog, and other weather conditions can be more dangerous for motorcyclists than other motorists.
But Sometimes, the topic of lane-splitting is met with hostility and ridicule by people who have never ridden a motorcycle. Moreover, some drivers might feel less safe with motorcyclists weaving around them or lane splitting; It can also be startling to drivers to imagine having a motorcycle zipping around them. Anyone who opens their door and accidentally hits a motorcyclist will be shocked and feel a flood of emotions.
Some Lanepslitting can increase the chances of an accident, particularly sideswipes or lane-changing accidents. Additionally, Drivers cannot see motorcyclists in their blind spots.
How Do You Determine Liability in a Motorcycle Lane-Splitting Accident?
Lane-splitting is illegal in Colorado. But that doesn’t automatically mean you can’t file a personal injury lawsuit if you were lane-splitting on your motorcycle. Perhaps the other party involved contributed negligence as well. In that case, they might be partially responsible for the accident.
Let’s say you were lane-splitting while you got hit by another driver who was switching lanes. If they hit you because they didn’t check their blind spot, they can be found partially negligent for your injuries. Meaning you can hold them accountable for your damages.
Under Colorado’s modified comparative negligence standard, injury victims who are partially responsible for causing the accident can still recover compensation. Colorado uses a “modified comparative negligence standard,” meaning multiple parties can share responsibility for an accident.
So, as long as you were not more than 50% responsible for the crash, you can seek damage recovery. However, if you are partially responsible for the accident, your award amount will get reduced by your portion of the fault. Lastly, if you were found more than 50% responsible, the majority at fault, you may not recover damages.
New Proposed House Bill 23-1059 Is Giving Consideration to Legalizing Lane Splitting
Even though lane splitting is currently illegal in Colorado, a new bill was proposed in January 2023 to consider legalizing it.
House Bill 23-1059 has proposed conducting studies and scientific research to explore the benefits of lane splitting. If House Bill 23-1059 gets approved, the Colorado Department of Transportation and Colorado State Patrol would need to start launching some major scientific research studies.
Once there is more data, we will know if it’s a good idea or even feasible to legalize lane splitting. The House of Representatives has until the end of 2023 to submit a report detailing their study results.
Contact a Denver Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Today
If you were involved in a motorcycle accident while lane-splitting, you might be able to recover compensation for your injuries. In addition, if the other party was negligent and partly caused the accident, you can hold them accountable for their contribution of fault.
You don’t have to walk away from this situation without recovering from your losses. We will fight to help protect your rights and get you the compensation you deserve. Our team of Denver Motorcycle accident lawyers has experience in representing clients and winning them large settlements for motorcycle accident injuries.
We offer a free initial consultation, so contact us today.