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Jul 23, 2014

American Motorcyclist Association Trying To Get Lane-Splitting Guidelines Back On California Websites

Lone complaint forces CHP to remove lane-splitting guidelines from website

PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- A single complaint from a Sacramento man has forced the California Highway Patrol and other state government agencies to remove information from their websites that was intended to help motorcyclists safely execute the allowed lane-splitting maneuver.

Kenneth Mandler, a longtime state employee who now conducts training sessions on how to get a state job, petitioned the California Office of Administrative Law in 2013, claiming the CHP created an "underground regulation" by formulating and distributing guidelines for safe lane splitting.

Lane splitting, also called lane filtering, is the practice of riding a motorcycle or scooter between lanes of stopped or slowly moving traffic. The practice has been permitted in California for decades and no statute prohibits it. No other state allows the maneuver.

The CHP posted its guidelines with the intention of helping motorcyclists and motorists understand safe practices and to discourage unsafe lane splitting.

"Some have interpreted the recently published Motorcycle Lane Splitting Guidelines as rules, laws or regulations that could or would be enforced by the department," according to a CHP statement. "The guidelines were never intended for this purpose and were prepared simply as common sense traffic safety tips and to raise public awareness."

The Office of Administrative Law sided with Mandler, noting that CHP Commissioner J. A. Farrow certified that his department would not "issue, use, enforce, or attempt to enforce the public education information." The OAL determined that posting the guidelines on the website was "issuing" them.

"By forcing the California Highway Patrol to remove its guidelines, Mr. Mandler and the Office of Administrative Law are denying the public vital safety information," said Nick Haris, AMA western states representative and a member of the California Motorcyclist Safety Program Advisory Committee, which helped write the guidelines.

"Lane splitting is still allowed, and motorcyclists are still using this long-recognized riding technique to relieve traffic congestion and improve safety," Haris said. "But now, neither riders nor motorists have a place to turn for authoritative guidelines on the practice."

The AMA supports the continued use of safe lane splitting in California and the implementation of lane-splitting laws in other states, coupled with extensive rider and driver education programs.

The AMA position statement reads, in part: "Reducing a motorcyclist's exposure to vehicles that are frequently accelerating and decelerating on congested roadways can be one way to reduce front- and rear-end collisions for those most vulnerable in traffic."

Denny Kobza, of the Bay Area Riders' Forum and a member of the California Motorcyclist Safety Program Advisory Committee, said he was extremely disappointed that the CHP was forced to take down the guidelines.

"It is very disturbing that one person can affect three years of hard work," Kobza said. "We put a lot of hard work into those guidelines, because lane splitting is a safer way to go than waiting for a motorist to make a mistake."

Kobza said he has full faith in the California Highway Patrol's continued advocacy for motorcycle safety, and he hopes the guidelines can be reposted to state government websites soon.

The complete AMA lane splitting position statement is available here: http://americanmotorcyclist.com/Rights/PositionSt...

The deleted CHP guidelines can still be downloaded here: http://americanmotorcyclist.com/Libraries/Rights_...

About the American Motorcyclist Association

Founded in 1924, the AMA is a not-for-profit member-based association whose mission is to promote the motorcycle lifestyle and protect the future of motorcycling. As the world's largest motorcycling rights and event sanctioning organization, the AMA advocates for riders' interests at all levels of government and sanctions thousands of competition and recreational events every year. The AMA also provides money-saving discounts on products and services for its members. Through the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in Pickerington, Ohio, the AMA honors the heroes and heritage of motorcycling. For more information, visit www.americanmotorcyclist.com.




More, from another press release issued by American Motorcyclist Association:

American Motorcyclist Association petition calls for return of lane-splitting guidelines to California government websites, offices


PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- The American Motorcyclist Association initiated a petition drive today to convince the California Office of Administrative Law to allow state agencies to once again disseminate important information on safely and responsibly executing the motorcycling technique called lane splitting.

The online petition can be found here: https://cqrcengage.com/amacycle/app/sign-petition?1&engagementId=55066.

A recent Office of Administrative Law order resulted in the California Highway Patrol, the Department of Motor Vehicles and other agencies removing CHP lane-splitting guidelines from their websites and ridding their offices of pamphlets, fliers and other documents that contained the safety information.

"Removal of the DMV brochures is a big loss," said Nick Haris, AMA western states representative and a member of the California Motorcyclist Safety Program Advisory Committee, which helped write the guidelines. "The DMV offices and website are the first places California drivers look for information. And this is vital information for them to have."

The CHP also removed references to lane splitting from its online FAQ, where information had been available long before the agency released its guidelines early in 2013.

"Lane splitting is still allowed, and motorcyclists are still using this long-recognized riding technique to relieve traffic congestion and improve safety," Haris said. "But now, neither riders nor motorists have a place to turn for authoritative guidelines on the practice."

The AMA supports the continued use of safe lane splitting in California and the implementation of lane-splitting laws in other states, coupled with extensive rider and driver education programs.

The AMA position statement reads, in part: "Reducing a motorcyclist's exposure to vehicles that are frequently accelerating and decelerating on congested roadways can be one way to reduce front- and rear-end collisions for those most vulnerable in traffic."

The guidelines disappeared at the urging of Kenneth Mandler, of Sacramento, Calif., who petitioned the OAL in the fall of 2013, claiming that the CHP guidelines were an "underground regulation" -- a rule that would be enforced, even though it had not been the subject of the Administrative Procedure Act's prescribed process.

In response to Mandler's complaint, CHP Commissioner J. A. Farrow certified to the OAL that his agency would not "issue, use, enforce, or attempt to enforce the public education information." The OAL determined that posting the guidelines on the website was "issuing" them.

Lane splitting, also called lane filtering, is the practice of riding a motorcycle or scooter between lanes of stopped or slowly moving traffic. The practice has been permitted in California for decades and no statute prohibits it. No other state allows the maneuver. Lane splitting is common in other countries around the world.

The CHP posted its guidelines with the intention of helping motorcyclists and motorists understand safe practices and to discourage unsafe lane splitting.

For its part, the Office of Administrative Law says it made no determination regarding Mandler's claim that the guidelines were an underground regulation.

"OAL did not issue a legal opinion as to whether the lane splitting guidelines constitute a regulation," OAL Director Debra M. Cornez wrote in an email to the AMA. "Since CHP notified OAL that it would not issue, use, enforce, or attempt to enforce the guidelines, OAL was precluded under the law from addressing the merits of Mr. Mandler's petition. Therefore, OAL never made a determination that the guidelines constituted a regulation."

Instead, OAL senior counsel Elizabeth Heidig instructed the CHP to remove the guidelines because Farrow agreed not to "issue" them.

The AMA petition seeks to demonstrate to the OAL that its narrow interpretation of Farrow's word choice jeopardizes thousands of California motorcyclists, automobile and truck drivers and visitors to the state, because they are being denied access to safety guidelines that affect their roadway environment.

The CHP guidelines remain available from the AMA here:http://americanmotorcyclist.com/Libraries/Rights_Documents_State/lanesplitting_guidelines.sflb.ashx?download=true.

The complete AMA lane splitting position statement is available here:http://americanmotorcyclist.com/Rights/PositionStatements/LaneSplitting.aspx.

About the American Motorcyclist Association

Founded in 1924, the AMA is a not-for-profit member-based association whose mission is to promote the motorcycle lifestyle and protect the future of motorcycling. As the world's largest motorcycling rights and event sanctioning organization, the AMA advocates for riders' interests at all levels of government and sanctions thousands of competition and recreational events every year. The AMA also provides money-saving discounts on products and services for its members. Through the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in Pickerington, Ohio, the AMA honors the heroes and heritage of motorcycling. For more information, visit www.americanmotorcyclist.com.