Lane Splitting on the Bay Bridge. Photo: Surj Gish.

Uneasy Rider: Better Luck Next Time? AB 51 Pushed To 2016

Lane splitting is near and dear to me. I commute by bike year round, and I run In fact, I ran that website before I fought valiantly to take the editor’s chair here at Ye Olde CityBike. I try to always include references to previous stories (“dumb story title” – every issue of 2014) but if I did that for splitting, well, there’d be no room for what I want to say about AB 51.

What I want to say is, while I was glad when Senator Beall hit the pause button on SB 350 a couple years ago, and glad that the bill just died out in year two, I didn’t feel that way when Assemblyman Quirk’s AB 51 was bumped to next year. When I “came out” (not that way) in support of AB 51 back in June, right here in Uneasy Rider, I said that even though I disliked the limitations of the bill, disliked the way some of Quirk’s staff weren’t forthright with us, disliked that we even have to be talking about this… in spite of all that, I believed—and still believe—that if AB 51 had passed as amended, it would codified lane splitting in a reasonable way, and opened things up for the CHP, OTS, and other organizations to educate riders and drivers again. Like they did with the lane splitting guidelines.

Now, with the bill being pushed to next year, I worry that the CHP, which has been something of a hand behind the curtain on this bill, is changing the game. Or that there are other forces which may push the numbers back down to the point where they force an unacceptable compromise. I’m a worrier, so for the next six months, I’ll worry about all kinds of stuff about this bill, unfounded or not.

Quirk has said if he’s forced to reduce the speeds in AB 51, he’ll pull the bill. I hope that’s true, and don’t have any real reason to think he won’t keep his word. And maybe we can keep on keepin’ on with splitting in a gray area—but I don’t think so. After months of thinking about this bill, and SB 350, and the legislation that’s been proposed—and failed—in other states, I still think getting a law on the books is the best bet in the long run.

So in the meantime, while AB 51 is in hibernation until 2016, I hope we—the riding community—don’t forget about this issue, and just assume “everything is cool.” Let’s plan, let’s debate, let’s learn, let’s lay the groundwork for next year. Let’s split smart and safe, so we can keep splitting.

• • • • • • • •

On a more personal note, although lane splitting is pretty damn personal for me too, this issue marks one year as editor for me. I took the role of editor in July of 2014, on very short notice. I didn’t know a damn thing about how to edit a magazine, and as you have certainly noticed, still don’t.

Me and An icing our aches and pains at Bungee Brent's Backroad Bash. Photo: Max Klein.
Me and An icing our aches and pains at Bungee Brent’s Backroad Bash. Photo: Max Klein.

But this thing runs on passion, enthusiasm, caffeine, sweat, blood, and the occasional broken bone. CityBike is blessed with a universally enthusiastic bunch of contributors, who continue to kick out the jams in the moments between working to pay the bills.

CityBike is necessarily staffed by folks with “real jobs” who love motorcycles. We’re not motorcycle journalists in the career sense of our careers; we are real-life Bay Area riders, and that’s the story we tell, over and over. This place, as you know damn well, is one of the best places to ride motorcycles in the United States, if not the world. The moto-culture of our region is second to none.

After I became “Editor Surj,” longtime contributor Miles Davis sent me a story. I loved it, but I was reticent to run it at the time. I felt I hadn’t earned my stripes yet, and therefore worried that the piece was too self-congratulatory. That piece, “What Sort Of Man Reads CityBike?” is on page 21.

Since then, I’ve worked very hard towards a singular goal: make CityBike BITCHIN’.

I’m sure you’re aware that print is having a tough time of it. But truly good stuff transcends the media it’s created in or on or with or whatever, and content that is vital and engaging and fun and passionate, that is bitchin’, means people will read this thing no matter what form it comes in.

I’m not patting myself on the back—we’re constantly progressing, but I genuinely believe that in recent months, we’ve really hit our stride. I am more and more stoked and excited with every passing issue—and I owe a huge debt of gratitude to CityBike’s contributors for this.

So check out Miles’ piece, and send me a note on how you think we’re doing. And thanks for reading!

This column originally appeared in our August 2015 issue, which you can read in all its original high-res glory here.