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Lane Splitting: A Southern California Motorcycle Experience

Posted on November 19, 2010 by Andrew in Video. 24 comments

One of the many great responses we got from the recent poll on filtering was a link from a SoCal reader by the name of Brian Leahy. Turns out he had previously done some research on the subject and then made a short documentary as a school project. I just got through watching it and was really impressed with what I saw. Not only is it beautifully shot but it goes into some really nice detail about lane splitting while also touching on safety, clubs, cops, and even retro bikes. There’s also some silly sweet footage of garages and workshops thrown in for good measure. See what you think…

  • JR

    Cool. I would definitely do it in slow moving traffic. I wish we had this in Ohio. Although our traffic is NOTHING like in California.

  • gary

    I wish they had this in the Seattle area. I think a lot more people would get on a bike and save gas.

  • Brian L.

    Hey… So the documentary was done as a final project for a film class. Ended up shooting it over a 2 month period with two other students in the greater LA/OC area. Had some great interviews with CHP that ended up not having quality audio so they were not included as were a bunch of other shots. For the class we had to work within the 10 min time frame so we ended up cutting a lot of material. I hope it provides some entertainment value!

    As for splitting, I have since moved back to the great pacific northwest and miss the ability to go to the front of stoplights and not get caught in rush hour traffic. Lane splitting is California's redeeming quality.


  • KIK


  • Scott

    Nice job Brian. Thanks for sharing.

  • TomG

    Lane splitting is just the done thing in Bermuda, although "third-laning" as we call it is a little easier on a 150cc! (our size restriction).

  • David

    The anti-biker crowd will focus on the references to drinking, other than that, nice work.

  • Smokey Cretin #9

    Very nice Brian. Cretins Los Angeles guys are great.

    If any of you are in Seattle, Portland or Los Angeles, go to a Cretins MC thurs night or one of our rides. We are very welcoming to all motorcyclists, as long as you are.

    Thanks to Pipeburn for featuring Brian's vid.

  • Florian – Paris

    Lane splitting saves time : parisian ring, 35 km in 11 minutes on a gex 1100 @ 190 kph +

  • 59club

    Awesome! Considering the topic, it would have been a little better delivered if the very first guy up weren't pretty obviously skunked and slurring…

  • Pat

    Great job on the video. Think about putting together a longer version. I think you'd have an audience.

  • @Florian – Paris, it's a car, but this is way better, also in Paris:

    Nicely done project.

  • Edu Di Lascio

    Some serious lane spliting in Sao Paulo, Brazil:

  • Raúl Vicente

    @Brian Leahy: I'm really curious about your view on this subject. I filter a LOT here in Portugal and it would be marvellous to share some light on this where I live (Lisbon, the original one^^). But unfortunately, I do not have the latest O.S. compatible with the flash player here and on vimeo, and I coudn't find your piece on youtube/google either. Is there anywhere else you keep your doc online? Thanks in advance 🙂

  • Florian – Paris

    @ Kumo,

    Actually I knew this film "rendez-vous", it was directed by a very famous frend director "Claude Lelouch" (, and just for the story, the movie was filmed from a mercedes benz and not from the ferrari you see at the end of the movie (because of the suspension), the sound of the ferrari engine was added afterwards. By the way, Lelouch loss his driving license after this movie that has been filmed in real conditions…!
    But, to come back to the question of filtering, it is really curious to see that it's an issue to American and Australian people, I think it is extremly common here in Europe, in Paris it is actually THE rule, I ride in Paris since years and I never hesitated to filter. To be honest, filtering on the parisian ring appears like being the first accident factor in the city with something like 60-70 % of the total of accidents in the french capital…

  • Gerardo Isler

    One day I was riding on a highway and I saw another biker, actually at the other side of the HW., splitting when, a car changed its line and hit him, he fall, tried to get up and ( I still have these images on my head) the oncoming traffic hit him like a ball in a Pinball and he never get up again. That day I really came home very slowly. But the craziest thing that I ever saw on the HW. was a guy trying to pass from a car window to a motorcycle, like in the movies, but after several tries he desisted when his brain, I guess, told him: today is not the righ day to finish at the hospital or worst.

  • Tom

    Funny.. Didnt know this was such a big deal.. As a born and bred Londoner this is the done thing. Filtering as we know it is what Ive been doing since first riding on the road. If you didnt you be stuck in the London traffic with all the other cage drivers.

    Nicely made video though..

  • Chris Mc

    I ride a bike to work for this reason, so I can split up the freeway. flip the mirrors, short drag bars keep it slim lined also loud pipes so they know your coming. I'm never really sure if its illegal in sydney or if its just tolerated. But it would defeat the purpose of riding to work if they cracked down on it. Besides another bike on the road means less traffic, so let the fuckers through.

  • In Korea it's the only way to get around the cities. Especially Seoul but I do it everywhere. At home in Texas, it's alway put up in the Texas State Legislature but the bill never passes.

  • Will

    Good video. I used to commute in LA on a SV650, a nice slim, quick bike able to get out of its own way. Thank God they let us split lanes or ride in the HOV/carpool lane. Traffic is horrible. It took me awhile to get comfortable splitting, I would look at driver mirrors and wheels to see how they would move, but then I started thinking of it in terms of a video game, and with confidence (and stupidity) I started splitting at up to 80mph (my speed differential was maybe 15-20mpn). Once i caught myself thinking of it like a video game I chilled out on the high speed splitting. You don't have 3 lives and there is no reset function in real life. My moto was black and had tons of black reflective tape on it, helmet too.

  • Raúl Vicente

    Finally found a way to see it. Summing up my view of this short film: do it if you can but be very careful. Old news though, it's plain common sense. No one should get on a bike and don't have this in mind, to start with… Final appreciation: meh. 5/10.

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  • hugoeccles

    As a biker in London, I don't really see what the big deal is. It's something we do every day and all day. Tales of riding 20mph faster than the surrounding cars, wow. Seriously, it's not difficult or dangerous. Much ado about nothing, I reckon.

  • riz

    come to Jakarta!…we'll show you lane splitting 😀 hehe
    Californian lane splitting just doesn't compare.

    on a serious note, Jakarta traffic is so crap that you'll need to split lanes 80% of the time. sometimes in excess of 80kph
    yes it's dangerous but where there's basically no law enforcement on speeding, you'll have to go with the flow or get rear ended