First, let me say that I am not absolutely anti-lane splitting. If it can be proven by a reasonable and comprehensive study to be safe, then let laws be passed and let the lane splitting begin. I still won't do it, but that's my decision. As I mentioned before, the study by U.C. Berkely and the Cal DOT is not complete enough to draw conclusions one way or the other.
I am very much against riders who think it should be legal and do it in spite of it not being legal where they are. That just pisses off drivers and makes it more dangerous for the rest of us. There is enough anti-motorcycle sentiment as it is without throwing that fuel on the fire.
Its not an age thing, its a geographical thing, most Europeans have no problem with it where I live and ride in Asia it is the norm, done sensible it is fine, at high speed and reckless it is a problem, so just like everything else on a bike! In large cities round the world it is the reason for many to ride, if I'm working in the city the 5 Km journey home can take 2 hours in a car it is 20 minutes on my Vulcan at most.
I'm 67 by the way, so more than happy to be called a youngster
As Archie mentioned below, the MC to car ratio is much more favorable in most of the world. I think that is very important in making decisions to lane split (if legal) or not.
I don't personally believe in lane-splitting as a solution, it's more like a quick-fix. But you already take great risks by riding a motorcycle. For example, if you are killed by a car while standing still at a stop light- that had nothing to do with you as the motorcyclist acting dangerous or going fast, or passing quickly. It had nothing to do with being brash or acting unsafe. You accepted the risk of riding a motorcycle, and though it wasn't your fault you still died.
I see little difference between standing still at a stop light and engaging in stop-and-go rush hour traffic. In fact, it's many times more dangerous taking into account aggressive or inattentive drivers.
If you ride, you take great risks anyway.
It makes more sense to me to put yourself in danger for the least amount of time possible- and lane splitting supposedly does that.
I have nearly been rear ended several times in bumper to bumper traffic or at traffic lights. I pay very close attention to what is going on around me, and I make sure I hved room for an escape route. That saved me every time. It's not a guarantee that I won't someday be rear ended, but I believe that it makes it safer, for me, than lane splitting. Not being aware of what is going on around you is just as stupid as lane splitting at higher than safe speeds. I see bikers stopped at lights or in stop and go traffic all the time who are fiddling with "stuff", etc. that have no clue what is coming up behind them. They are also usually so close the the cars in front of them, that they leave no room to maneuver if they need to.
Lane splitting like so many other decision you make, like riding a motorcycle, is a assesment of risk vs benefit , in my case the risk of lane splitting outweights the benefit so I hardly ever do it , on the other hand BikeMadPete and Berw see it the other way arond, maybe it is that both in Europe and Asia the motorcycle to car ratio is enourmosly tilted towards the motorcycle that the car drivers are more aware of motorcycles and are more careful ?
Agreed. The risk is greater than the benefit for me, too. And, as you say, the bike to car ratio is very different in other countries, so arguing that they do it practically every where else in world doesn't hold here.
In Germany, you can only lane split if traffic is at a total stop. In France they tried to regulate lane splitting, but the bikers there held the highways hostage for a day and they dropped the attempt. All it not rosy in the rest of the world where lane splitting is concerned, but proponents of lane splitting would like you to think that it is.
I wouldn't lane split in a 900 Vulcan b/c it's a big bike and not the most maneuverable at slow speeds. Also the lanes in S.C. seem small and not enough room to lane split unless they re-painted the lines so perhaps we don't have an accurate picture of what Cali is doing on their roads to begin with. That said- I would probably feel fine doing it in a 400 Ninja, which is way smaller and more maneuverable.
Same in the Atlanta area. The lanes have been narrowed time and again to make room for more lanes. The other issue is the low number of bikers commuting on the highways around here. When I was commuting to downtown Atlanta, there were many days that I never saw another bike on the commute home or to work. I rarely saw more than one or two other bikes. Even if it were legal here, and drivers were aware of it, they are conditioned by the absence of bikes to not look for lane splitters.