WhyBike Motorcycle Blog

I object to lane splitting because . . .

By James - 3/1/2007

I had the pleasure to hear straight from a cager why some have a problem with lane splitting. Warning: It is quite irrational and does not make much sense when you know the facts.

(I object to lane splitting because) it puts me at risk of an accident or it puts my car at risk of being damaged and the motorcyclist may drive on or blame me. Someone else does not have the right to put me in such danger or circumstance anymore than I have the right to make you stand on the edge of a buildings roof. - GWMobile

In most instances, actually an overwhelming amount, 75%-85% of motorcycle collisions with cars are caused by automobile drivers. (Hurt Report, Tony Merlino) The main cause of motorcycle accidents is inconspicuousness. (Eye catching gear may reduce motorcycle injuries) Cars just do not see motorcyclists.

Is this the motorcyclists’ fault? As a motorcyclist I see inattentive and careless drivers every day. Most drivers don’t look for motorcyclists when they are turning. They also do not look for pedestrians or bicyclists when turning right. It is not on the top of mind of most cagers. They are thinking about work, they are thinking about traffic, they are concentrating on things other than driving. Motorcycles do not put cars at risk. Inattentive driving puts you at risk. There are two easy things you can do to make sure you do not have a motorcycle crash into you while splitting lanes; use your turn signal and look in your mirror. This will prevent 100% of accidents. It is not that hard, I drive a car and am not startled by motorcycles. Motorcycles are not hard to see. They have bright headlights that are always on. Many have bright paint jobs. Many have loud pipes. Many bikers wear bright clothing. There is no excuse for not seeing a motorcycle, it is carelessness on your own part that put you in that situation. You are the one putting others at risk.

(I object to lane splitting because) it is a result of someone who feels they can jump the line. Impatience, rudeness, superiority, uncivilized behavior, flauting(sic) the law, being an $#%hole call it what you will but lane splitting is all about the motorcyclists putting his desires ahead of others. - GWMobile

Here is the real motivation of those who wish to eliminate lane sharing; jealousy. Sure it seems like you are “cutting in line” and acting uncivilly, but in reality, that line is shorter because I am on a motorcycle. I have not bought into the idea that bigger is better which imposes on everyone round you. I am not hogging a ridiculously large space on the highway and using more resources than I need to. It seems like the refusal to use your turn signal and look before you turn is a lot more rude and arrogant than me using a piece of highway you can’t.

For more info on splitting lanes:
Lane Splitting Articles



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  1. This was a very thought provoking article James. I know that we have had more scary encounters with cagers than I care to remember and it was never because of our rude or careless behavior. For example, once we were travelling in a light rain on a major Altanta interstate. We were in the right-most lane about to make an exit. An automobile driver cut in front of us to get on the exit, then passed us again in order to get to a traffic light ahead of us! To top it all off, this model citizen gave us the infamous one finger salute as if we had been the ones in the wrong. What can you do?

    We love your site by the way! You do really excellent work.

    Beach & Train

    Comment by Train — 3/1/2007 @ 9:55 pm

  2. Nice one James. Too true, many cagers just don’t get it, or hate us because we can do it. Lucky, in Europe (apart from the UK), most have accepted lane splitting, and often go out of their way to let us through. They realize that better have bikes in between cars, then in front, creating even bigger traffic jams.

    Comment by Mike Werner — 3/1/2007 @ 10:12 pm

  3. The emotional response people have to lane splitting interests me. My wife feels the same way, and I struggle to understand why. I think it’s a response to being startled. Ironically, if lane splitting were more common don’t think it would arouse the kinds of negative responses it does now, because people wouldn’t be surprised by having a motorcycle slip by, whereas now it’s a combination of a fast, noisy object suddenly appearing where you don’t expect it - and a certain amount of jealousy caused by the fact that you’re stuck there in traffic and they’re not.

    Seriously - lane splitting isn’t going to cause the downfall of Life As We Know It. Relax, remember that that motorcycle splitting lanes isn’t going to make you get there any slower (maybe faster, since it’s not taking up a spot in the lane) and think about something happy.

    Comment by Steve — 3/1/2007 @ 10:51 pm

  4. It’s all about what you are accustomed to. In the rest of the world lane splitting is a common occurrence. Take the peripherique in Paris for example. In Paris as in many other European cities, a huge number of people (I don’t know the percentage but is high) ride scooters and bikes. Scooters ride in between the lanes of cars. It’s an everyday thing. No one gets startled, no one except maybe a startled American tourist yells at them or honks their horn. In fact there are as many scooters as cars, so it’s probably futile anyway - akin to a herd of Antelope running along a herd of Buffalo. They run together without flipping each other off. Sure the occasional antelope turn into mush, but in general they coexist. Why cant we? Answer: Because we in America have personal space issues. We have expectations that people will “give us our space", whether it be in a car or walking in the mall. When we don’t get it, we get agitated. Motorcycles and smaller vehicles fill the space because they have can. Drive safer, the roads are only going to get fuller.

    Comment by Mike — 3/1/2007 @ 11:06 pm

  5. Not to split hairs (!), but in CA, the HOV (car pool) lane is separated from the other lanes by two double-yellow lines, usually with about 18 to 36 inches between the sets of doubles. This is practically another “lane” for a motorcycle, and indeed, you’ll see motorcycles in this lane all the time, continuously for miles, including CHP. I’ve asked CHP about this, and they say that riding between the lines like this is legal. It’s illegal to _cross_ these lines to move from the HOV to a standard lane, or vice-versa; this is an HOV lane violation, and a car would also be ticketed for crossing these lines. On a bike, you can move between the lines, and back to your original lane.

    If this isn’t considered being on the centerline (as the two double yellow are considered the divider between lanes), I’m not sure what is.

    Comment by e.p. — 3/2/2007 @ 7:52 am

  6. I am not sure you can cross the double yellow to utilize the “half lane". I would double check with your law enforcement agency before attempting it. That double-double yellow line is only in LA. Up here in Northern California, the HOV is marked with a solid white line, sometimes a broken white line.

    Comment by James - Whybike.com — 3/2/2007 @ 7:56 am

  7. I have never lane split. Born in SoCal, I surely do understand the temptation, but, while riding, 60% of my mental capacity is taken up by maintaining distance from 4,000 pounders. I sure as bleep would not deliberately pass between two with only a foot of space on either side.
    The other day, …I hit a 4,000 pounder …with my truck. They were driving terribly. I could see her talking on her cell phone. I thought, “she’ll turn and I’ll be free of her” but she turned where I needed to, so I had to keep following Dingy. Then she swings …all the way into the center lane (for turning LEFT) …and then cuts hard right. I felt so guilty about hitting her (not) at about 5 MPH. I’d have missed, but one of my tires was on a white line so I slid a little. She admitted fault and apologized. He hubby showed up. He said, “Well, Honey, one more corner and you’ll have bent them all.”

    I can’t comprehend lane splitting.
    We can handle it.
    They can’t.

    If 40% of all commuters rode bikes,
    Lane splitting would be pointless.

    Comment by Jaws — 3/2/2007 @ 6:45 pm

  8. I don’t understand why the people who get so bent out of shape about motorcyclists getting ahead of them in the line don’t just wise up and get their own bikes? Of course, then they wouldn’t have anything to complain about…

    Comment by The Obstruction — 3/10/2007 @ 12:30 pm

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