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Etiquette for motorcycles stuck in Oxnard traffic jams

Last month, a traffic-jam etiquette battle began to rage in Oxnard, in Los Angeles and throughout California. Certain areas of California have some of the worst traffic jams in the nation on a regular basis. Many California motorists have become pros at navigating this kind of motor vehicle mess with a relative amount of grace. Others tend to rage behind the wheel every time the freeway begins to resemble a parking lot. Given how frustrating traffic jams can be, it is no wonder that the subject of etiquette in these situations is charged.

When the California Highway Patrol removed certain safety guidelines from its website last month, this charged subject was again debated openly among motorists, truckers, bikers and cyclists alike. CHP specifically removed lane-splitting guidelines from its website, despite the fact that this practice is legal in California and arguably helps to prevent certain kinds of motorcycle accidents.

The guidelines had been present on CHP’s website since early 2013, after the agency worked tirelessly alongside both advocates and opponents of the practice in drafting them. When a complaint was lodged with the Office of Administrative Law that the CHP had essentially drafted “underground regulations” in issuing the guidelines, the possibility that they would be taken down was born. In response to the disappearance of the guidelines, the American Motorcyclist Association has petitioned to have them put back online.

Opponents of lane-splitting, which is only legal in certain situations including traffic jams, have every right to their opinion. But is taking down guidelines which promote safe lane-splitting the answer? Given that this practice is legal and safe lane-splitting is in every traveler’s best interest, it hardly seems so.

Source: Bloomberg Businessweek, “California Drivers, Motorcyclists Fight Over Traffic Jam Etiquette,” Karen Aho, Aug. 4, 2014

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