I live in SF and lane split regularly on my 1100... It was scary at first but I feel it's worth doing as long as you are safe about it. Here's my take on a good way to get started. *This is my PERSONAL opinion - you may disagree with me. That's fine. Just don't start a flame war please!
1. Initially only split between stopped traffic on a road that is at least
two lanes wide in your direction (basically getting to the front of the line at a red light). Once the light changes, if you are not at the front of the line, merge into a lane and continue with the rest of the vehicles.
2. NEVER split on the right side of the outside lane of traffic (between "moving" traffic and parked cars) - too much chance of a car door opening in front of you.
2a. NEVER split in a turning lane.
3. Once you are comfortable with splitting stationary traffic, you can move onto splitting moving traffic. Per Highway Code suggestion
you should never split in traffic moving more than 35mph and you should only travel up to 10mph faster than the speed of the traffic around you.
4. If a car can
fit there illegally then you should not
go there either. Think hwy shoulders and bicycle lanes...
5. Be aware that trucks and buses will take up A LOT more room in the lane so passing them can take patience (and sometimes a little moxie).
6. When splitting slow moving traffic on a hwy, it is polite to only use the gap between the two left/inner lanes. It's also safer because (especially somewhere like SF) drivers are more likely to expect to see you splitting, and there are less people trying to merge on/off the hwy.
7. Always keep your eyes moving!!!!! Watch the cars in front for sudden head movements that will indicate someone about to merge through you. Watch for bikes behind you - pull into the traffic lane and let your fellow bikers pass until you gain confidence.
8. On that note, if you see another rider splitting, that is a GREAT way to start - they are making room through the vehicles FOR you. Much of the time, drivers see the oncoming bike and try to give you a bit of room, so the previous bike will have made room for you to follow!
Basically, to split or not to split (that is the question!
) is entirely up to you. Just because it is legal doesn't mean it is safe. Just because it is safe doesn't mean it is fun. Ride your own ride and don't let anyone tell you you are wrong. As long as you are happy and not adversely affecting those around you, do what makes you comfortable.