Coming from a rider who sometimes rides fast on open roads, I promise I don’t want to split between cars to race around. If anything, I recognize that there is an inherent danger to riding between people applying eye-liner and eating a burger. However, I’d rather have the option to get around and away from those beautiful and full motorists rather then squished between them and the car in front of them.
One of the most surprising things I’ve discovered as a newer rider, was just how much more observant I’ve become over drivers driving habits. You begin to predict what people will do before their vehicle moves and it has already saved my life a few times. For all this newly discovered intuition, one situation continues to make me sweat inside my helmet; approaching or being stuck at intersections.
While moving, it is very easy to keep track of the drivers around me and make adjustments to avoid being smushed by lawyer in his Audi screaming vigorously into his phone. While coming up to an intersection or stopped, my exit strategy is cut down and I’m sorry to say this, but on bike I really don’t trust others driving. I’ve noticed that motorists seem to relax their attention when approaching an intersection. It’s almost as if they think the hardest part of the drive is over and they can read that email now or reach for a Cliff Bar while slowing for a stop. Also, I don’t understand the how so many people forgot what lane they need to be in and jump over last minute, usually without a turn signal.
For these reasons, I wish New Jersey, as well as all other states, legalized lane-splitting. I know that many motorists will rage that riders will just rip between them at 100mph if you legalize this, but to be fair, the guys who choose to do that don’t care if it is legal or not. I would even be happy if the police officers have digression to determine whether a rider is splitting safely or dangerously. From what I can tell, that is currently the practice in California and hopefully their tweaking of the law will deter newer riders from scaring the crap out of motorists (For more info on Cali’s practices read this article). Trust me, I don’t want to sneak between cars at triple digit speeds and have someone accidentally veer into me so it isn’t about simply going fast.
Being able to just move to front on an intersection at stopped light means that all the four-wheeled lunatics are behind me and stopped. So long as I don’t blow past motorists revving the nuts off my bike, I would hope they appreciate I am getting away from them as well. Many people get nervous around bikes and that adds to them making poor decisions. Perhaps the most beneficial purpose of lane splitting is in traffic jams though. We all know that no matter how much you love Jesus or how much yoga you do, traffic brings out the inner yeti in all of us. You become angry, inpatient, and forget how to drive safely. I will admit to letting the yeti out myself prior to getting a motorcycle, but I have since realized just how dangerous that mentality is. Having the ability to SLOWLY move between the traffic and getting by all the shouty yetis keeps the motorcyclists safe…and cool…oh so cool.
All this being said, I am curious what other riders think. My uncle, who also rides, does not like splitting since he feels as if he is in greater danger. Many of our other friends who ride cruisers are also nervous about motorists giving them enough room to pass between since a bagger with highway bars isn’t exactly skinny like a Triumph Daytona.
Comment below to split the hairs about lane splitting…see what I did there, I’m so punny.
Motorcycle blogger in South Jersey. Looking to get fat off good food. Are their any other people in the 20's riding cruisers anymore?