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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    7

    Default Shoulder Passing on a Motorcycle, VC 21755

    My question involves a traffic ticket from the state of: California

    The officer wrote it down as "shoulder passing", but here is the law:

    Quote Quoting State of CA
    21755. The driver of a motor vehicle may overtake and pass another vehicle upon the right only under conditions permitting such movement in safety. In no event shall such movement be made by driving off the paved or main-traveled portion of the roadway.

    This morning I was on my motorcycle traveling the HOV ramp of the SB 5/57 connector. This is a one-lane ramp that merges with the SB I-5 HOV lane. There are initially two lanes which eventually merge after passing under the 22 freeway. At the point of the merge traffic was backed up, which is normal. On a motorcycle it can occassionally get a little hairy when these two lanes are merging, so I'll occassionally pass cars off to the right until the lanes are one and everybody is "zippered" and in order. Keep in mind that I stay within the lane, but ride around the cars, which isn't difficult given the size of the lanes at the point of the merge.

    A motorcycle officer was parked at, if not just 10-20ft beyond the point of the merge, but on the opposite (left) side of the lane(s) from myself. I made no argument or disputed it, as I don't believe this was the forum to do so.

    From the officer's position on the opposite side and looking over two merging lanes of slow-moving traffic, I don't believe he could possibly determine whether my tires where within the lane or on the shoulder. I ride daily and just witnessed a motorcycle accident on the way, so I was driving very slowly and cautiously and have a good driving record. I am considering taking pictures from his POV and contesting the violation, if I have a chance at it. Tips or opinions?

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Behind a Desk
    Posts
    98,846

    Default Re: Shoulder Passing on a Motorcycle, VC 21755

    It sounds to me as if you like to pass a bunch of cars and merge in ahead of them, rather than waiting in line with everybody else. I understand why you would want to do that as a matter of convenience, particularly on a motorcycle, but I'm not buying it as a matter of necessity.

    The statute has two parts - a restriction on passing on the right, and a prohibition on passing on the shoulder. You can attempt to argue that you didn't go onto the shoulder; I suggest having some pictures to document that there is room. But the elephant in the room would appear to be the first provision - your ability to pass safely - which turns on a subjective evaluation. Also, it only takes a momentary movement onto the shoulder to amount to passing on the shoulder.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    California
    Posts
    1,206

    Default Re: Shoulder Passing on a Motorcycle, VC 21755

    As long as you were within the lane, you were "lane splitting" (which I'm sure you know). It's an interesting situation because, in California, it's considered to be neither legal nor illegal. The CHP addresses it on their website and their stand on it is that if it's done in a safe manner, it's allowable. The 'grey area' surrounding lane splitting in California has been debated for many, many years.

    I've known several people who've been cited while doing it athough thousands of riders do it everyday without incident. When you get to court, the judge's decision will be based upon whether he feels you were within your lane and whether you were 'splitting' in a safe manner. I think the fact that the the citing officer was also on a bike will most likely work against you but, perhaps not.

    By the way, "lane sharing" (riding next to one another in the same lane) is perfectly legal...and terribly dangerous, in my opinion. (I've been riding motorcycles in California for more than 35 years.)

    Good luck...and ride safe!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Northern California
    Posts
    832

    Default Re: Shoulder Passing on a Motorcycle, VC 21755

    I'm sure the motorcycly officer is aware of the difference of "lane sharing/splitting" and passing on the right. I'm guessing you passed over the fog line at one point to which he saw. I guess you will have to wait to see what he says he observed in court.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    California
    Posts
    1,206

    Default Re: Shoulder Passing on a Motorcycle, VC 21755

    Quote Quoting sniper
    View Post
    I'm sure the motorcycly officer is aware of the difference of "lane sharing/splitting" and passing on the right. I'm guessing you passed over the fog line at one point to which he saw. I guess you will have to wait to see what he says he observed in court.
    I just mentioned the part about lane sharing as an aside although I also feel sure he knows the difference since so many of the CHP motor officers regularly do it . I think the important part is whether he could possibly have observed him passing over the line based upon his vantage point....and whether he can convince the judge that he could have. (My guess is that he will.)

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Northern California
    Posts
    832

    Default Re: Shoulder Passing on a Motorcycle, VC 21755

    Quote Quoting chuckycheese
    View Post
    (My guess is that he will.)
    Same here.

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