This Official U.S. Marine Corps photo taken by by GySgt. Chad Kiehl shows the Jan. 10, 2011, snow that caused Camp Lejeune to shut down for the day, except for essential personnel for the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

Camp Pendleton Warns Marine Motorcyclists on Lane Sharing

Instructors at the Marine Corps base at Camp Pendleton, Calif., tell motorcyclists that lane sharing is unsafe, even though it is not illegal. On the other coast, local traffic patrols have increased at the main gates of Camp Lejeune.

Marines who ride motorcycles at and in the vicinity of Camp Pendleton, Calif., are being warned that lane sharing is an unsafe, if legal, practice. On the other coast, at the main gates of Camp Lejeune, Jacksonville, N.C. police have recently stepped up traffic patrols to prevent marines from racing on the left past vehicles queued in a right-hand turning lane and then darting into that lane to get on base faster.

A Marine Corps news release posted Jan. 7 describes lane sharing as two vehicles share the same lane -- usually a motorcycle and a four-wheeled vehicle -- where the roadway has two lanes going in the same direction. Lane sharing is allowed in the state of California, but the motorcyclist can be cited if he or she does it unsafely, said Adrian Ramone, Camp Pendleton's motorcycle safety manager, and Richard Stampp, a motorcycle safety instructor there. They differentiate lane sharing and lane splitting.

"Lane splitting is riding the middle of two different lanes and traveling at a higher rate of speed than traffic," Ramone said in the release. "Lane sharing means you are in a single lane and proceeding in a safe and moderate speed."

The California Highway Patrol authorized lane sharing to protect motorcyclists from carbon monoxide exposure and being rear-ended by other vehicles, and Camp Pendleton authorized the practice in 2009. Even so, motorcycle safety instructors discourage it, and the California Motorcycle Handbook states lane sharing is unsafe, Stampp said.

"We tell the riders every day that lane sharing is not safe," Ramone said. "All the time I see riders going 55 miles per hour and zooming between cars. That is illegal. They do it because they have the ability to maneuver, but it doesn't make it right."

"If a driver doesn't see the rider and tries to change lanes, it could be bad for both parties involved," Stampp added. "If there was a collision due to lane sharing, most likely the rider will be at fault. It all comes down to the experience of the rider. Lane sharing decreases the amount of space and time available to maneuver out of a dangerous situation."

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