If you hadn’t been passed by these guys and women on the eastbound Santa Monica Freeway (“The 10”) in West Los Angeles in bumper to bumper traffic, you would think this is a tragedy. But it was proceeded by the group, wearing [removed to avoid giving them publicity] shirts, lane splitting at 40+ mph faster than the slow and go traffic, and one guy doing a standing wheelie (that we could see).
They were there and gone in a heartbeat.
We thought when they got in front of us, that they would try to stop traffic to do their stunts. Well, they succeeded in stopping traffic.
When we finally crawled through the virtually stopped traffic a mile down the road, and caught up with the tower of smoke, we were not surprised in the least that it was one of the bikes we saw not 5 minutes earlier. One apparent injury was a woman/girl wearing short shorts and a full face helmet, who lost a fair amount of skin to the pavement but was standing by the center divider.
By the time the fire trucks and CHP arrived, the rider of this bike had hopped on one of the intact bikes you see along the center divider, along with the injured passenger, were long gone. All the arriving emergency vehicles saw was the one or two unrideable bikes. None of the bikes had plates that I could see. Only about half of the riders in the group, had stopped for their fallen comrades in the first place.
Just as my wife and I celebrated the full legalization of lane splitting, our celebration was soured by this group which nearly clipped our car and other motorcyclists. We can’t find out if the rider whose bike was on fire, hit another vehicle prior to the crash. But there were damaged cars along the center divider with them. CHP is calling it a hit and run, which immediately was wrongfully interpreted by a local biking social media page, as “A car caused this accident and ran from the scene”.
Our encounter with the group was on entering the stop and slow traffic on the EB I-10 at the Bundy onramp just east of Santa Monica. I was signalling and had two wheels into the lane I was changing into. Suddenly there’s a roar and I see a bike barely squeeze past me and dive between cars. Then I see the front wheel above the roofline of the cars with the rider standing up and it disappeared. In seconds, there were about 8-10 other bikes, lane splitting all of the lanes, at normal freeway speeds while the rest of the traffic was nearly stopped, or stopped.
While I was focused on driving, my wife narrated what was going on.
We don’t know if it was actually this group or fans who identified themselves with the [removed to avoid giving them publicity] shirts/vests. But there was a video from the same group called “Killing the Freeways”, which was removed this morning by the user, that indicates doing this is kind of their thing when they get together.
When we ride, we might go 20 mph faster than traffic while lanesplitting. Even that’s pretty questionable. We’re motorcyclists, we love them, we’ve ridden hundreds of thousands of miles commuting in LA and taking road trips, and we don’t begrudge riders having a good time, even a little extra-legally. We’re glad no one was injured enough to hitch a ride on a meatwagon, but I can’t say we don’t feel that this burning sportbike is a karmic reward, and a downpayment on members of [tough sounding name with a death with].
I also can’t help but think, the license plate missing on that bike won’t keep the owner secret for long, even if they ground the VIN off their bike. He or she, along with their fellow riders, face at minimum, felony hit and run charges which is enough to make following all of the leads they can find, likely.
Lanesplitting, like any kind of riding or driving, is pretty safe when your goal is to make it to your destination and back. When your primary goal is making stunt videos on public streets, you are not “one of us”. And we do not appreciate you pissing off people with 3500+ lb weapons they might use against those of us just trying to get from one place to another, because when they think lanesplitting biker, they think of morons like these. And they think they’re doing the world a favor by taking out “reckless bikers”, using their own definition that all lanesplitting is dangerous.
So I really hope the CHP catches up with them. What do you think? Are they free spirits who should get away with it, or are they borderline criminals who endanger the rights of all motorcycle enthusiasts?