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Stoplight protocol?(60 posts)

Stoplight protocol?NewRoadBiker
Oct 3, 2001 7:38 AM
After reading the traffic law discussion below I have a question about something I have been wondering about. What does everyone do when approaching a stoplight when there is traffic? If there are 6 - 10 cars in front of you (that just passed you as you were approaching the stoplight), do you ride alongside of them on the right up to the front of the line or do you take your place in line (only to be passed by more cars as the light turns green)? Since I started biking I've only ridden solo, thus haven't had a chance to observe what other cyclists do...other than the local yocals who ride on the sidewalks everywhere, which I refuse to do.

up frontDog
Oct 3, 2001 7:49 AM
I pass the cars and to the front, so that the first car can easily see me and not turn right into me. If you hang back, good chance that either a car will turn into you, or they will stop, not knowing where you are if they are conscientious. I know of nothing that prohibits passing and going to the front.

re: Stoplight protocol?Brooks
Oct 3, 2001 7:50 AM
Thanks for actually thinking about stopping at lights. It really bugs me that cyclists blow through lights and tick off drivers. The other day I saw a cyclist run a red light with cross traffic. Fortunately the driver looked left and saw the cyclist, otherwise he would have been a nice hood ornament. As to your question, for me it depends on the conditions. If there is essentially no shoulder, then I get in line with the cars, sometimes in the middle of the lane through the intersection and sometimes along the outside of a car. If there is a shoulder or bail out room, I will ride past the cars up to the light. With a group ride, we act as a vehicle and get in line. Be safe, be predictable and be responsible.

Conditional Ride to the FrontPdxMark
Oct 3, 2001 8:09 AM
I agree with Brooks. Ride to the front when safe and feasible, otherwise get into line - or simply take your lane. In practice, it means that I usually ride to the front except when downtown, where lights and an absence of shoulders have me taking a lane all the time - not just at lights. Otherwise I could get squeezed between a passing car and a parked one.

As for running stop lights, I'll confess to a personal 12-to-6 rule-of-thumb... Meaning I'll run lights on deserted streets when I'm riding between midnight and 6 AM... I'm so glad I've gotten THAT off my chest
Ride to the front of the line...Starliner
Oct 3, 2001 7:50 AM
...unless a law forbidding it exists where you live. Especially at rush hour - seeing you move to the front can demonstrate to the oil burners a nice advantage cyclists have. Just be careful, however. A couple of years ago I got doored while passing on the right side of a line of cars waiting at a stop light.
re: Stoplight protocol?mr_spin
Oct 3, 2001 8:03 AM
There are a lot of variables to consider, and the universal answer is only do that which keeps you safe. In general, at a red light, I suggest working your way up to the head of the line of cars. This is for two reasons:

1) people are much more likely to see you
2) you don't have to breathe exhaust.

But there are caveats.

Cars turning right
Few drivers turning right bother to look right, so don't sneak up their right side. At large intersections this isn't usually a problem, but at smaller intersections, cars that want to turn right may be stuck behind cars going straight. When the light turns green, they suddenly dart right and if you are there, it's going to hurt.

If I come up on an intersection like this where the light is still red, I make my way up the right side, but if the light turns green before I get to the head of the line, I will actually stop, and wait until all cars ahead of me have revealed their plans. Only then do I go.

Cars making left turns
If you want to turn left, do the same thing. Make your way up to the head of the line. But, in a big intersection, when the light turns green cars will often accelerate by you, and one may hang an immediate right into a gas station. Be seen, but always be prepared.

If the light just turned green, I'll follow the cars. Don't try to get ahead of them because again, nobody is looking where you are.

As you ride more, you will get to know your local intersections very well. You will learn to anticipate all the stupid things people do. In fact, if you are lucky enough to ride in areas with a fair amount of traffic, you will become an expert on traffic flow. And that knowledge will transfer very well when you ride in other places.
re: Stoplight protocol?Birddog
Oct 3, 2001 8:04 AM
It depends. If I'm alone and there are only one or two cars, I get in line like any other vehicle. If there are more than 1 bike, we always get in line and take our turn. If I'm alone and there is a long line, sometimes I ride up the shoulder/gutter to the front. If you do this, check out which vehicles you pass are signalling for a right turn, and make sure the guy alongside and the one in second position see you!
re: Stoplight protocol?cioccman
Oct 3, 2001 8:06 AM
No lane-splittingRich Clark
Oct 3, 2001 8:22 AM
It's usually illegal, and almost always dangerous, to ride between lanes. That includes between a traffic lane and a parking lane, or between a traffic lane and the curb if there's no parking lane.

So if you want to know what's legal, the answer is you take your place in line with the other traffic. You can't be in the lane and not in the lane at the same time, and two vehicles aren't allowed to share a lane side-by-side, so there it is.

My own approach is to do what seems safest. If there's plenty of room, and no danger of getting doored or having a car suddenly swing out of the line of traffic and into me, I'll often ride up to the light. I might even anticipate the green if it's safe to cross and it means I can get out in front of traffic, where they can see me (I'd much rather be approached from behind than to be in a driver's blind spot).

But there's a huge exception to this: I try very hard not to create a situation where the same cars keep having to pass me where we're sharing a lane. Passing bikes makes drivers nervous, and having to pass the same bike over and over again because it keeps doing an illegal lane-split to get past them at stoplights often makes them angry.

But cyclists should understand that they don't have a *right* to squeeze ahead. They are legally bound to the same rules as other vehicles, and ignorance of the law is no excuse, as they say.

(These are the kinds of roads -- perhaps the only kind -- where bike lanes make sense, IMO.)

Doesn't apply in Californiamr_spin
Oct 3, 2001 8:34 AM
Lane-splitting is 100% legal in California.

The vehicle code explicitly says it is legal for two or more vehicles to share the same lane.
The legality of this inevitably will depend on the local law.bill
Oct 3, 2001 12:44 PM
In Virginia, it is legal for a bike to pass cars on the right. I certainly can imagine that in some states it is not.

I am comfortable taking the lane in very heavy traffic. I am not going to be holding anyone up, no one is expecting to move fast, and I think that, on the whole, it's more predictable (and less anxiety-provoking) to drivers already bothered by cyclists in the friggin abstract.

If there are one or two cars and I know that they're going to be accelerating to 45 just as soon as the light turns, I don't bother. I get out of their way and wait until they're gone, which usually means passing on the right and pulling all the way up to the corner to wait there.
I live in CAJules
Oct 3, 2001 9:01 AM
and like Mr Spin states below, it is 100% legal to split lanes. I ride down an extremely busy road in the evening on my commute for about 1/2 mile to where I have to make a left turn. I usually encounter a good 1/4 mile of stopped traffic coming up to my turn with cars stopped blocking the bike lane forcing me to ride around them on the left. It doesn't concern me too much though as they aren't moving. I just weave my way to the front of the line, get over to the right side of the left turn lane and wait for the light with the other cars sitting there.

It makes no sense for me to sit in a 1/4 mile line of stopped cars when I can safely and easily ride past them, especially when it's legal to do so.
Ride to the front!Rusty McNasty
Oct 3, 2001 8:48 AM
Or else you're gonna have to sit back there, inhaling all those damn exhaust fumes!!
Ride up when single, stay back in groupsMick
Oct 3, 2001 9:04 AM
Usually I'll ride up on the right when I'm alone for the reasons already posted.

I think it's important and polite when in groups to encourage your buddies to stay in the lane and wait your turn.

One bike passing on the right doesn't seem to bother drivers. But the looks I've seen when 10 or 15 pass on the right .... well those looks could melt carbon fiber.
Depends on the roadMel Erickson
Oct 3, 2001 9:08 AM
If there's enough room to safely go to the front and theres a separate right turn lane I usually go to the front. If there's parking on the right or little room between the lane and the gutter I'll take my place in the line. I sit in the middle of the lane where everyone in front and back of me can see me. I don't trust drivers to look to their right before turning when the light is green, even if I'm along side them. I've almost been hit twice and don't want to chance it anymore, three strikes and all.
re: Stoplight protocol?Empirion75
Oct 3, 2001 9:28 AM
I ride up to the front everytime even if it means squeezing between 2 lanes of stopped traffic. Usually everytime I can sprint across the intersection when making a left turn or going straight faster than the cars. This is good cause everyone sees me and knows I'm there. It helps to watch the cross traffic lights and be ready for yours to change green by track standing.
Good Question! As a new rider, I have some additional..Kristin
Oct 3, 2001 9:43 AM rider prespective that hasn't been mentioned yet.

I agree with what everyone says. Whenever possible, move to the front, so the lead car sees you. Also, this helps with left turning cars on the opposite side. One day I was stuck behind a truck. The car in the left turn lane impatiently turned very close to the back of the truck I was behind. She couldn't see me and it was almost tragic.

Reasons I don't pull up:
* Less than 2' between cars right tire and curb. As a new rider, I do lack handling skills. I don't want to risk hitting a car, falling and being under the car when it rolls forward.

* I don't have enough time to get all the way to the front before the light changes.

* Whenever I stay back, I always "take" the lane. I don't want to be in anyones blind spot, so I pull into the center (towards left actually) of the lane. I keep the lane until the car in front of me has pulled significantly (4 car lengths) ahead or I've cleared the intersection.
good point, re lane; also, when right turn lane thereDog
Oct 3, 2001 10:11 AM
Good to "take the lane" if necessary. It's not really an inconvenience to cars, either, as most of the time we can accellerate faster than the cars from a stop (practice that clipping in fast).

Also, if there is a right turn lane, I always move to the area between the straight ahead lane and the right turn lane, never to the far right. Also prevents getting cut off, and makes your intentions clear.

Good Question! As a new rider, I have some additional..scottfree
Oct 3, 2001 10:13 AM
This whole issue seems pretty simple to me. I take an attitude that requires no thought or decisionmaking whatsoever, so what I do in traffic is automatic: I am a vehicle, just like a car is a vehicle, and I have the same rights and am subject to the same rules as a car. Ergo: At a stoplight, I take the lane, crisply and firmly, and wait my turn just like a car. Weaseling up to the front is not only dangerous as all hell, it weakens our firm and unyielding contention that we are traffic and to be treated as such.
we are not the same as cars, thoughDog
Oct 3, 2001 10:20 AM
Can a car legally pass a bike in a double yellow no passing zone 2 lane road? If cars and bikes are the same, the answer is no, correct? Must a car stay as far to the right as practicable? Nope - but bikes are required to (in Ca., at least).

We are not the same, and some rules are different. I think this is one of them.

we are not the same as cars, thoughscottfree
Oct 3, 2001 10:27 AM
You're right -- IF there are rules specifying certain actions. The law says we stay as far to the right as practicable -- OK, fine, I'm agreeable.

But in situations where no bike-specific action is mandated in the law, then we behave like a car. It just makes life simpler, and makes us more predictable. Therein safety lies. As far as I know, there is nothing in any statute anywhere that says we can weasel down a row of cars at a stoplight.
RE: we are not the same as cars, thoughJules
Oct 3, 2001 11:56 AM
"there is nothing in any statute anywhere that says we can weasel down a row of cars at a stoplight."

I don't like the sound of this. I don't know what kind of roads you ride on but the roads I ride on mostly have a dedicated bike lane or ample room for a car and a bike side by side. The only time I might agree with you is when there is a large truck (18 wheeler) at the light. I make a point of giving trucks like this a wide berth.

I don't think there is anything discourteous about riding passed cars stopped at a light. There is plenty of room for both of us.
RE: we are not the same as cars, thoughscottfree
Oct 3, 2001 12:05 PM
Sorry if my prose sounded inelegant to your ear. This was a specific response to Doug's correct contention that different rules apply to bikes and cars. My point was, in the absence of specific rules, we are vehicles. And there is no specific rule that says, "Bikes shall, at stoplights, be allowed freedom and leeway to weasel to the front of a line of cars anyway they can manage." Whoops, inelegant prose again.
I'm gonna research this tonight and I'llKristin
Oct 3, 2001 12:09 PM
weight in for Illinios state law tomorrow. If there is no specific law, I'm gonna ask my state trooper neighbor. He'll have an answer. By the way...why don't any of our law officers weight in on these conversations? Where's Pygme? We'd have to excuse Dino...I think he's got his hands full these days.
Oct 3, 2001 12:12 PM
What's up with Dino? I didn't hear anything. I'd really like to know. Thanks

re: Dino?Kristin
Oct 3, 2001 12:39 PM
I was remembering this post:
Jon Billheimer "I don't think we're in Kansas anymore...." 8/29/01 3:32pm

His mother in law is not well.
Oct 3, 2001 12:51 PM
Thanks. I forgot about that. But, he's checked in since then. I'll email him. Thanks for pulling that up for me.

Oct 5, 2001 9:59 AM
Things have gotten worse. My 86 year old Italian mother-in-law will most likely outlive all of us. Now it is my wife's father who is diagnosed with alzheimers, and recently fractured his hip while taking a spill in his wheel chair at the convelescent hospital.
My riding time is sucking, the old phrase "use it or lose it" strikes home.
Alzheimers is a bad disease, I can only pray that I don't get it.
God Bless
Empathy...Len J
Oct 5, 2001 10:43 AM
for your situitation. My father-in-law is (and has been) in mid-stage alzheimers and it's like watching a perfectly healthy person disappear in front of you. Physically, he is the same person, but mentally the person we knew is slowly leaving and being replaced by an ill-tempered pervert with absolutly no limits. I agree with you Dino, I pray that I don't subject my loved one's to this kind of pain.

God Bless you too.

yes, butDog
Oct 3, 2001 12:10 PM
There is no specific law permitting a car to pass a bike in a no passing zone. Isn't it the same thing?

yes, butscottfree
Oct 3, 2001 12:12 PM
I think the ability to pass is implicit in the injunction that bikes should stay as far to the right as practicable. Why else would we be asked to do that?
turn it aroundDog
Oct 3, 2001 12:16 PM
Won't it work the other way, then? Same reasoning.

Cars are permitted to passKristin
Oct 3, 2001 12:29 PM
bicycles in any zone in Illinios. The only rule in illinios is that they give "a wide margin" I love how specific our laws are. In any regard. Here, the law is that we need to be as far right as safely possible. The reason being, so that vehicles moving above the minimum speed limit can pass. I would suppose that you have a valid argument for taking the lane if you were doing over the minimum.
If you DON'T have ample room/a lane, don't pass. -NMTig
Oct 3, 2001 12:47 PM
I don't "weasel" my way down the row....Starliner
Oct 3, 2001 8:05 PM
I move up to the front with certainty and with a clear mind.

Here in California, it's not just bicycles which split lanes, but motorcycles as well. On interstates at rush hour, motorcycles commonly thread their way past cars stuck in stop-and-go traffic.

The bottom line when riding in traffic is to obey the 3C's of riding - be careful, be courteous, and be (and stay) conscious.
Scott. I appreciate what you're saying.Kristin
Oct 3, 2001 10:21 AM
However, you are the only person so far to disagree with the idea of going to the front. I don't think your way is wrong, but I don't agree that moving to the front is unsafe. If the light is red and all the cars are stopped, there isn't anything they can do to you. The only safefy risks I have been able to imagine are the ones I mention in my post.
Oct 3, 2001 10:25 AM
I can see that trying to take the lane at a stop, depending on how much space you have, can be dangerous. Often when as light turns red, the cars to my left are tail gaiting and stopping quickly. I can't possible get in. Plus, doing the necessary shoulder check can be risky if the road is narrow or the traffic fast. New riders might not have the confidence or handling skills for this. So if they can't take the lane, they're left in a blind spot.
Oct 3, 2001 10:33 AM
That's why I said something like 'crisply and firmly'take the lane. You can't be timid or squeamish, and you might as well get used to getting honks and fingers.

Obviously grabbing the lane might not always be possible. Sometimes you DO get shut out. But that should be the goal, I think. Consistency = safety. Bikes here and there winnowing up rows of cars stopped impatiently at a light are not consistent and its not safe.
I don't agree with the taking the lane thing and here's whyJules
Oct 3, 2001 1:32 PM
When I ride to the front I am usually riding passed stopped or slow moving cars and I stop on the right side of the lane farthest to the right that is not required to turn. I stop next to and slightly ahead of the vehicle at the light. I think this is safer than moving your entire bike/body out into the middle of a lane behind the last car you approach. This would put you in a very very bad spot (if I understand you correctly) if someone comes up too fast and doesn't see you or mis-judges and cannot stop in time. You become the meat in a car sandwich. I think you are much more exposed this way.

The only time I move out into a lane is when I'm crossing the lane to make a left turn. I always look and use hand signals to make my intentions clear to the drivers behind me. I've never had a problem or been flipped off for this.
There is one other thing, thoughTrent in WA
Oct 3, 2001 10:29 AM
If the cars in question are ones that have already passed me approaching the light, and the road past the intersection is too narrow to allow them to safely and quickly pass me again, I won't ride to the front. Legality or illegality aside, that's the sort of thing that pisses me off when I'm driving, so I won't inflict it on others when I'm biking.
Scott. I appreciate what you're saying.scottfree
Oct 3, 2001 10:29 AM
Oh man. There are SO many bad things that can happen. Doors opening, right turns in front of you, pededtrians crossing BETWEEN stopped cars ...
You live in the city don't you?Kristin
Oct 3, 2001 10:45 AM
Its that perspective thing again. I don't hardly ever see pedestrians. And stop lights are 1+ miles apart.
You live in the city don't you?scottfree
Oct 3, 2001 11:00 AM
Nope. See my reply to MB1 below.
re: Stoplight protocol?Trent in WA
Oct 3, 2001 10:14 AM
It depends on the intersection and on whether the right lane is (a) a dedicated straight lane, (b) dedicated right-turn lane, or (c) dual-purpose straight / right lane. In the first two cases, I always ride to the front of the straight lane, which serves to make me more visible and allows people turning right to do so without waiting for me. In case (c), if there's a dedicated straight lane to the left of the straight / right lane, I'll ride to the front; if not, I will ride to the front only if I can determine that the people at the front of the lane are going straight or turning left. I will not ride between somebody turning right and the curb / parking lane; in my experience, that's asking for trouble, even in a bike-friendly town like Seattle.

Absolutely NEVER ride to the front (almost)Tig
Oct 3, 2001 10:28 AM
Why is riding up past other cars to the front such a problem? First, we are all ambassadors to our sport and unfortunately, we must continue to "earn" our place on the road. I've ridden all over the country and have seen the full range of acceptance from motorists. Even around laid-back drivers, we must present ourselves as responsible sharers of the road while maintaining safety. Every time a rider does something stupid or discourteous, it drops us all down a notch in the view of those drivers who witness it.

But why is it so bad? Other than being rude, it makes drivers pass you again, and on roads with several lights together, they pass you again and again. If we were in a car and a motorcycle did this to us, we'd most likely get a little upset. Sure, all motorcyclists don't do this so why would we be upset with all motorcyclists? Bingo! All motorcyclists DON'T do this. OK, what about cyclists? If more and more of us make this mistake, well, all it takes is a few too many repeated incidents and you see the picture. Many drivers already see us as invaders of their road, and passing them while they are stopped sure doesn't help.

Instead, I advocate taking up the lane while you are in line. Since it takes a while for cars to accelerate and pass while leaving a light, stay in the lane until into or past the intersection. They can then pass you as normal. OK, maybe I'm cheating since I use Speedplays and clip in really quickly!

Sure, each situation has different needs to make it safe. If you have a wide, rideable shoulder that stays out of the lane the whole time, by all means stay there. I'm just saying it paints a bad picture of us if we ALL do it when it's not safe, and do it too much.
Very interesting. I have to ask a questionKristin
Oct 3, 2001 10:41 AM
I've never riden on a street where I would meet the same drivers two stop lights in a row. Even on 25 MPH streets, cars are doing 35. I doubt any of us are going that fast. So no car has ever passed me twice at an intersection. I've always thought it was more curtious to ride to the front than to take the lane. I figure most people see bikes as being slower than thier car, and there for would get annoyed when you pull in front of them.

So question: Which is more aggrivating to drivers: pulling in front of them on something they perceive as slower or passing them on the right to be at the front?
Very interesting. I have to ask a questionTig
Oct 3, 2001 11:06 AM
As with most everyone's points, it depends on the situation. Yes, you could tick a few people off either way. The situation I'm describing is when you ride up to a few cars that are already stopped. This can be in a left turn lane as well as a strait. Another car or two pull up behind. If you rode up to the front, ALL the cars will pass you. If you hold the lane until safe, only some of the cars pass you, and usually after you give them room by pulling off to the right.
It says, "I'm legal, I'm here, I need this space for only a short distance, I respect you by not passing you so that you end up passing me right back a few seconds later".

Since it takes a while for cars to accelerate and pass while leaving a light, stay in the lane until into or past the intersection. They can then pass you as normal.
I AGREE!filtersweep
Oct 3, 2001 4:16 PM
I get quite miffed at the commuter cyclists on busy streets- like a four-lane major artery through the city with parked cars on both sides and a light at every block. These guys/gals are not road bikers, and are often slow, and are half in the left lane, making it a chore to pass when there is a ton of traffic (which is generally always). I FINALLY get around them and they pass me on my right? That's not right. You can easily have to pass them several times as there are so many red lights. I've seen these creeps scratch up cars with their bars trying to squeeze through, knock car mirrors around, have to kick off vehicles, etc... It makes me feel quite inconsiderate to these cyclists... like they are "cheating"-

It is not that difficult to take a lane where you end up, and when the light turns, resume riding.
Do any of you commute in a downtown?MB1
Oct 3, 2001 10:41 AM
Interesting discussion. On group rides I like to obey the law and really don't like to ride with folks who move up at lights or run them.

Commuting in downtown DC..........I can't think of a traffic law I haven't broken and won't break or shatter into little itty bitty pieces.
Do any of you commute in a downtown?scottfree
Oct 3, 2001 10:51 AM
Well, we're talking 'perfect world' here, and I know you have a point. I don't ride in big downtowns. I rarely ride in town at all, and when I do it's small towns where stoplight scenes are fairly orderly. So maybe I'm talking out of my hat.
Ahh....the "Perfect World". Don't I wish!MB1
Oct 3, 2001 10:58 AM
Every time I think bikes are bad some driver demonstrates a new "Amazing Stupid Driver Trick." The other day I saw a car flipped at the corner of 19 & K in downtown DC. How fast were they going to flip a car-this in a town where it takes you 2 signal changes to drive through 1 intersection?

Maybe I'll start walking. Anyone know of a nice slightly odd walking forum??? ;-))
yeah, that's the golf forum :) nmmr_spin
Oct 3, 2001 11:02 AM
"Golf is a good walk ruined"? nmMB1
Oct 3, 2001 11:03 AM
Depends on my mood.Largo
Oct 3, 2001 6:14 PM
re: Stoplight protocol?trek8rider
Oct 3, 2001 7:14 PM
Just to share a little experience with you...I was doing just as the others suggest, riding cautiously past stopped cars on the right, when suddenly a car appears in front of me. A truck was allowing a car to make a left turn into a side street, while he, the truck, was stopped at the light. This resulted in me braking aggressively, taking evasive action, and participating in the required swearing. Luckily, after it was over (the slow motion effect), everyone escaped unharmed, namely, I didn't crash through the window and end up seated next to the driver. I still pass traffic stopped at lights but with a new vigilence to the possibility of the odd left turn, especially with larger vehicles that I can't see around. The drivers don't seem to mind having to pass me again (this is deduced by them giving me plenty of room the second time around). Just something to think about....
Per Mr. Illinois State TrooperKristin
Oct 5, 2001 6:07 AM
I spoke to a trooper this morning and he informed me that riders should always move to the front of the line because it makes the rider visible. (Obviously, we still need to use common sense when safety is an issue...i.e. if traffic is already rolling.)

I explained both sides of the debate and he said decisively that it is not the cyclists responsibility to please drivers, win favor or even keep them from hating us. The cyclists responsiblity on the road is to stay safe. That should be the only factor in deciding how to ride. This really impacted me. I realized I get caught up in the arguement about being an ambassedor too often. I agree with ambassidorship to a certain extent. We should always make an effort to be considerate while obeying the law--which applies to much more than cycling--but we're not responsible for how drivers feel. When we allow the driving communities opinion of cyclist to factor into the debate, we run the risk of making their opinion more important than the law.
Good stuff. What about posting it fresh so everyone can see it?MB1
Oct 5, 2001 6:26 AM
BTW is the trooper cute?
Oh...he wasn't your type or I'd have gotten his number. (nm)Kristin
Oct 5, 2001 7:54 AM
Oct 5, 2001 6:37 AM
Nice to hear something from someone who knows what they are talking about.

I agree, stay safe is number 1 priority, and being courteous is behind that, although frequently the two are related.

re: Stoplight protocol?DINOSAUR
Oct 5, 2001 9:36 AM
I can only say that I don't encounter any stoplights on my treks into the foothills. In days long gone when I lived in the city I would carefully pass all vehicles on the right and proceed to the front, taking precaution that a motorist would not cop a right turn and run me over. In Ca it's O.K. for two vehicles to occuppy the same lane. "Lane splitting" generally refers to motorcyles riding between vehicles when traffic is at a standstill. The rule of thumb is if you are going 15MPH faster than the flow of traffic then it is considered unsafe speed for conditions. There is no traffic law in Ca that pertains to lane splitting. If cited you would have to take your case to court and see how the judge interprets it.
Law or no law, I always try to do what is safe. If you screw up and get run over it does no good if you were dead right.