Is Lane-Splitting Legal in Colorado?

Motorcycle on open road with mountains in distance

One of the most contentious disputes between some motorcycle riders and safety advocates concerns lane-splitting. Some motorcyclists argue lane-splitting could help prevent accidents, while opponents say lane-splitting makes everyone less safe. So, who’s right, and is lane-splitting even legal in Colorado?

What Is Lane-Splitting?

Lane-splitting is when a motorcyclist rides between two lanes of traffic moving in the same direction. It is something only motorcyclists can do, as their narrow profile allows them to “split” the space between two traffic lanes while maneuvering.

Is Lane-Splitting Legal in Colorado?

In short, no. Regulations from the Colorado Department of Transportation make it clear that lane-splitting is illegal, as is a motorcyclist sharing a lane with a car. Currently, California is the only state that allows lane-splitting, and even then, it’s only allowed under certain circumstances.

In 2016, the Colorado House Committee shot down a proposed bill that would allow lane-splitting in Colorado.

In contrast, two motorcycle riders can ride side-by-side in the same lane. That is known as “co-riding,” and it’s a good way for motorcyclists to make themselves safer by making it easier for other drivers to see them. Only two riders can share a traffic lane, though.

Is Lane-Splitting Safe or Dangerous?

How safe lane-splitting is depends on who you ask. Supporters argue lane-splitting helps keep motorcyclists safe by:

  • Making it easier for riders to get out of dense traffic
  • Making it less likely that they’ll be rear-ended by a car, which is one of the most common causes of severe motorcycle crashes
  • Helping riders get out of bad weather or intense heat, both of which can be dangerous for motorcyclists

Lane-splitting opponents say it makes everyone on the road less safe by:

  • Increasing the likelihood of sideswipe or merge accidents
  • Making it more likely that a driver will be startled by a motorcyclist and cause a crash
  • Making “dooring” accidents more likely (e.g., cars opening their doors and motorcycles running into them)

Who Is Liable in a Motorcycle Lane-Splitting Accident?

If you’re involved in a motorcycle accident while splitting lanes of traffic, it’s essential to know that you still may be able to recover compensation for your injuries. While lane-splitting is illegal, you may still be able to file a personal injury lawsuit as long as you were not the primary negligent party involved in the accident.

For example, if you were lane-splitting and a driver sideswipes you because they forgot to check their blind spot, they could be found negligent and liable for your injuries.

Even if you are found partly responsible for an accident, you may still be able to recover some compensation. Colorado uses a modified comparative negligence standard in cases where multiple parties share fault for an accident. That means as long as you are not found to be more than 50 percent responsible for a crash, you can still claim compensation for your injuries. But if you are found partly liable for a motorcycle accident, your compensation will be reduced by your percentage of fault.

Contact Our Experienced Colorado Motorcycle Accident Lawyers for Help

If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident while lane-splitting, you need a knowledgeable attorney on your side to deal with insurance companies, seek justice, and defend your rights. Contact the Olson Personal Injury Lawyers™ today for a free initial consultation with a Colorado motorcycle accident lawyer.

Author: Sean Olson

Sean Olson is much more than just a personal injury lawyer. Sean is an advocate who helps those who are injured navigate our complex legal system. And he is a voice for those who are injured and cannot speak for themselves.