WhyBike Motorcycle Blog

When Splitting Lanes you gotta know who your friends are

By James - 3/24/2007

I have been splitting lanes now for more than 7 years now. Every day to and from work and on the weekends too. During that time I have learned some good lessons, most of which are written down in Tips for Splitting Lanes. But there are a few tips I left out. Mainly because they are overly broad, differ from person to person, and are frankly mean spirited. Since the article section of the website is meant for educational purposes, I stuck to the facts. The blog has more of an op-ed feel. So here I will spew my hate . . .

I don’t like broad generalizations. Judging a whole group of people based on the actions of a large minority of those people is dumb and closed minded. But after 7 years of splitting lanes I am seeing a pattern and it is letting me be proactive in my lane position, speed, and following distance. I hope you can learn from my observations.

Trucks are your friends
I don’t know why. By all accounts they should be hard to pass when splitting lanes. The are big vehicles with big mirrors right at decapitation level. But they seem to be more aware and more motorcycle friendly than the general cager. A lot of my motorcycle buddies have trucks, maybe this is them driving to work. They seem to move over for you and give you following room much more than I am used to. I would like to give a big two finger “what’s up” to all the trucks that are paying attention.

German cars are your enemies
Not so much with the higher end German cars, I am talking about the entry and mid level BMWs, Mercedes, just about all Audis and if you exclude their vans, Volkswagen. I have seen them signal so I know the cars come with that functionality, but why are they so reluctant to use their turn signals? Without fail, when a stretch of road opens up in front of me and I get up to speed, a Jetta decides they want to be in that faster lane and without looking or signaling, cuts me off. With all that protection they might feel invincible. With my loud pipes and high beam, I might as well be invisible.

Minivans, everybody’s favorite scapegoat
I don’t blame minivan drivers. Most are moms and we all know they have the hardest job in the world. And nowadays they have to drive further to do it. But what really gets me is when they have a “Baby on board” sign but insist in driving dangerously and endangering everybody else on the road.

I love to take the bus
They are big and hard to pass but you know that up front. They don’t lure you to pass then try to kill you. They are nice and predictable. They signal, they maintain their lane positioning and they see you coming. I want to say thanks to the bus drivers.

This might just be a California thing so let me know what patterns you have noticed in your area.


Dead (motor)cyclists have themselves to blame!

By James -

One of the blogs I read regularly is BoingBoing which reported the other day about a Toronto politician that said that dead cyclists have themselves to blame, even if they died while cycling legally.

I can’t support bike lanes. Roads are built for buses, cars, and trucks. My heart bleeds when someone gets killed, but it’s their own fault at the end of the day.
You notice that he left out motorcycles, another form of transportation with an exposed operator.

This is not a uniquely Canadian mentality, as anyone who has driven in the United States can attest to. The Mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, expressed a similar position . . .

Even if they’re in the right, they are the lightweights. Every year, too many people are hit by cars - and bikes have to pay attention. Bikers shouldn’t assume car doors won’t open into their path, for example.
He is right in a couple of aspects, bikes and motorcycles are lightweights in both physical size and political force when compared to cars. And as motorcyclists we are taught defensive driving, we shouldn’t assume that cars will not do illegal things and hit us. But we should not just shrug our shoulders and say “Such is life". There are things our government can do beyond telling us to wear helmets to help reduce deaths of all motorists on the road.

  1. Bicycle and pedestrian awareness programs have been shown to help decrease the number of deaths here in the US. Motorcycle awareness programs in European countries have been show to do the same for bikers. We can pressure our government representatives into sponsoring these programs and help to put looking for motorcyclists top of mind for cagers.
  2. Harsher penalties for those who violate the right of way of any vehicle on the road. Those that put convenience over safety need to learn how inconvenient it is for person they kill or injure with their selfish behavior. I am tired of people getting slapped on the wrist when they proclaim that they were late, or they didn’t see the motorcycle. Society should not have to pick up the pieces because you have poor time management or are just to lazy to look both ways before pulling out into traffic.

Just because we are more exposed, or don’t have airbags, or don’t have crumple zones does not mean we are asking for injury or death. We do not have ourselves to blame when bus, car, or truck hits us. So at every chance you have, I plead for you to vote for motorcycle-sympathetic politicians, write to your representatives and encourage strategies for helping to increase motorcycle awareness, and when you have the opportunity to meet face to face let them know how dangerous it is getting for bikers on the raod.

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