Social Question

ipso's avatar

Do you disprove of motorcycles sharing car lanes?

Asked by ipso (4476points) June 15th, 2010

It is legal in California (as but one example), but just because it’s legal does not mean you have to like it.

Many people move from a non-legal state to a legal state, and I fear the whole idea is alien and offensive to them.

Tell us your story.

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34 Answers

tinyfaery's avatar

Where else would they drive?

Blackberry's avatar

We can’t afford to make all new motocycle lanes lol, I don’t care, but I think you may be inquring about how cyclists can go between cars to get ahead? I don’t either way, it’s one the benefits of having one.

rangerr's avatar

I don’t approve of motorcycles at all.. but where do you want them to go?

ipso's avatar

Ah – “Lane sharing” (aka Lane splitting) is a term used to describe a motorcycle being able to pull through stopped or moving traffic.

eden2eve's avatar

I’m so scared for people I care about to be riding motorcycles. If they have to ride them, I’d like it if they had their own roads, but that’s not practical, is it?

andrew's avatar

I very occasionally lane share, only if the traffic is stopped or jammed.

It’s really, really telling to see who is paying attention to their side mirrors.

jerv's avatar

In some jurisdictions, certain cars can also split lanes.

Personally, I have no problem with bikes splitting lanes. I have more of an issue with people here mis-interpreting the question and taking it as an opportunity to voice why they feel that motorcycles are evil.

Oh, and according to most definitions I’ve seen, going between cars is actually lane straddling, which is illegal in most jurisdictions, even those that allow lane splitting. ANd land straddling is something that I do have an issue with, if for no reason other than the fact that motorcyclists are not any smarter than car drivers and most people in cars seem to drop about 70 IQ points the instant they get on the road.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

On the contrary, I wish motorbikes would use car lanes exclusively. It is incredibly dangerous for them to ride between the lanes of traffic, or blast up the break-down lane when the traffic is too slow for them.

AstroChuck's avatar

Disprove? No. Disapprove? Yes. I disapprove of motorcycles on the freeway, period.

jerv's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh Most of the traffic I’ve seen in the “breakdown lanes” is actually four-wheeled. Hell, in Massachusetts, it’s actually legal to do so on certain highways at certain times of day! Kind of sucks if you actually do break down….

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@jerv I’ve only seen that on rare occasions. I’ve nearly knocked motorcyclists off their bikes so many times though, when they ride between the lanes and then you get a green light or when they swerve into the lane from the break-down lane. Somehow its natural to blame the clumsy car driver when there is an accident though.

ipso's avatar

whoops – s/b disapprove ^^ – yes

The one truly enlightening thing about lane splitting (straddling) is on freeways where you get to magically sift through traffic and often you find at the front you have about 8 people who are comfortable driving slowww next to each other and they just don’t understand the magnitude of cluster they cause in their wake.

I had a motorcycle rider pull in front of me (in my car) at a stoplight, and then proceed to go half the speed limit. THAT is a problem. If you pass someone, you need to zip along completely out of their way to avoid scaring them or cutting them off – or any perception of impeding their progress. That’s the game.

Jeruba's avatar

I’m in California, and I don’t have any problem with it. As far as I’m concerned, they are keeping a car off the road, and if that means they get somewhere sooner, that’s their reward. It takes nothing away from me.

Sometimes it startles me when a bike comes up alongside all of a sudden, but most of the time it seems both practical and skillfully done. I don’t mind sharing safely.

ipso's avatar

@Jeruba, You hit on something – “skillfully done”.

When I’m driving my car and someone passes me closely on a motorcycle (but it is obvious that they are skillful and in complete control) I actually enjoy it. They are like big impressive cats – being cat-like, and full of focus/energy/life. But when someone bobbles along (and there are a lot of new motorcycle riders these days), it just looks dangerous and worrisome for them and me somehow. I find myself wincing at them.

andrew's avatar

@ipso and @Jeruba I love that description. Beyond words.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

I hold that motorcyclists should use the lanes the same way cars and trucks do. They should not zip between lanes of such vehicles and motorists driving cars or trucks should treat motorcyclists with courtesy and allow them full use of the lanes used by other vehicles.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@Jeruba “I don’t mind sharing safely.”
That is the key. Lane straddling and blasting up the break-down lane is not safe, and I don’t want to knock someone off their bike even if it is a result of their stupidity. I would still feel bad, even though it would be their fault, so I would prefer they not do it and spare themselves and other road users.

Kraigmo's avatar

The best drivers on the road are not necessarily those who obey all laws, nor are they those who drive within the speed limits, necessarily.

The best drivers on the road, are those who fill up available space and take advantage of natural rhythm. That means speeding and lane splitting are not only something to be tolerated… they are something to be appreciated.

There’s a place on the road for every single person’s vehicle, whether its a bike, cycle, car, SUV, truck or bus. It’s the hesitant/slow dumbasses and the overly impatient who cause all the problems on both sides of the spectrum. The occasionally-illogical traffic laws do not help. There’s a rhythm occurring on the road, and those who’ve never noticed that, tend to be the hesitant, slow-reactor drivers who clog up space, instead of filling available space.

And so, I approve of motorcycles sharing car lanes, so long as such motorcycles keep their speed up in the leftmost lanes, and keep their speed low while lane splitting.

YARNLADY's avatar

As a passenger who likes to keep my window down, I really don’t like it because I hardly ever see them coming, and the noise startles me.

jerv's avatar

@Kraigmo Totally agreed. The problem is that most people are not really in control of their vehicles, have no idea how “flow” works, and do stupid shit like slamming on the brakes when a leaf blows in front of their car and thus causing the 57 people that were tailgating behind them to pile up and make me late for work.

I see too many people thinking that they are faster traffic solely because they are in the left lane, and it seems that signalling a lane change is verboten in some places, as is leaving enough distance to see the bottom of the other vehicle’s tires when swerving in front of them at freeway speeds. Of course, once they pass you then they slow down by 15 MPG (I wish I were exaggerating!) thus causing all sorts of frustration and possibly an accident. And since I’ve moved to Seattle, I’ve noticed that a lot of people are really timid too, which transforms a “right on red” situation into an “I hope you packed a lunch” affair.

Like I said, motorcyclists are not always more intelligent. In fact, we see quite a few get killed here while popping wheelies on I-5, which makes the responsible cyclists look bad. So if motorists in general are inept then why should I approve of something that requires skill that many do not have in order to pull off safely?

mrrich724's avatar

I grew up in Florida, and as such, thought it was totally insane to split lanes. ( I am a biker)

I moved to the pit of California (LA) two years ago, and vowed I wouldn’t do it only to realize that even on highways, regardless of the time of day, EVERYONE was going 35 mph due to the horrible condition and layout of the roads and freeways.

One, the terribly slow speed made it feel alot safer to split lanes. Two, it made it almost impossible not to, unless you want to sit in traffic for two hours with the rest of LA.

Now I am back in Florida (thank God) and I realize I don’t need it here b/c the roads are not congested, so I am cruising at 50–70 mph everywhere I go, and there isn’t the horrible congestion caused by millions of people living within a few square miles.

So I think some places it is a necessity, and other places not so much.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

Motorcyclists should have to follow exactly the same rules as drivers of automobiles. I’m a biker and that’s how I ride, regardless of local laws.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@Kraigmo In general I agree, but lane splitting is dangerous often enough to ban it. People should take note of the rhythm of the road, and do their best not to hold up any other drivers, but riding between the lanes is a recipe for disaster.

Carlos2273's avatar

Lane splitting is safer than sitting in traffic and getting rear ended and run over by a car or truck driver looking down at there cell phone. Plus most bikes like mine are air cooled it will overheat in traffic if it’s not going at least 15 or 20 mph. Plus plus trying to ride a motorcycle in stop and go traffic at 2mph at a time is very difficult and painfull. Try squezzing a tennis ball next time your in traffic for every time you stop, remember a motorcycles brake and clutch is done by hand.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@Carlos2273 It is your choice to ride. If you can’t ride by the road rules, don’t ride at all.

mrrich724's avatar

In some states, that actually invested the money to do the research (i.e. California), they found that bikes sharing lanes is actually SAFER than not.

And I believe California cares more about their riders than other places. This is backed up by the fact that Florida (where it’s illegal to split lanes) says you don’t need to wear a helmet, and in many cases don’t even need to be insured to ride a motorcycle on public roads.

like @Carlos2273 said, it’s safer to share than to be rear ended by an asshole not paying attention. But there is more science to it than that. . . It’s difficult to see a motorcycles very slim profile when the bike is directly behind a car or truck (which has a wider profile at least 3 times as wide. The driver focuses on the lights of the car in front of it, not even seeing that motorcycle right in between.

So when you come to a stoplight, a motorcycle is much safer (and expected to by law) when they pull up next to the front stopped car, rather than staying in line.

Carlos2273's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh, I AM observing the rules of the road. I live in California where it is legal. I’ve gone to Nevada where it is illegal and I don’t do it. A few years ago law makers in Sacramento tried to pass a law against “filtering” the legal term for “lanesplitting”. The CHP actually testified against outlawing it. Like mrrich724 said they stated that studys show that lanesplitting if done in a safe manner relives congestion and is safer for the motorcyclist than being stopped in traffic. When lane splitting thru traffic rarely can a motorcyclist go faster then 20–25 mph cars are going much slower. The chances for “disaster” at those speeds are slim. A damaged car and bike are very possable. An injured biker, for sure. A disaster hardly. Getting rear ended by a chevy suburban driver sitting in traffic who hit the gas instead of the brake would be a disaster.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@mrrich724 and @Carlos2273 I am not aware of the laws in your states/country, but anyone who cannot see a motorcycle directly infront of them needs their licence revoked. It is easy to change lanes when a bike is next to you, but if it is directly infront of you then there is no excuse not to see it.

How many people are stupid enough to hit the accelerator instead of the brake anyway? You two make it seem like an innocent mistake anyone could make!

Carlos2273's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh, It happens everyday. Besides all it takes is ONE “stupid person” making ONE “careless” mistake to kill me.
From the NY Times.
“In 2009, nearly 6,700 traffic accidents involving 37 deaths and more than 9,500 injuries were thought to have been caused by drivers in Japan mistakenly pushing the accelerator instead of the brakes, said the Institute for Traffic Accident Research and Data Analysis, a government affiliated group based in Tokyo.

Car safety specialists say it is likely that tens of thousands of crashes in the United States have also been caused by pedal errors. In an accident in Santa Monica, Calif., in 2003, a driver believed to have hit the wrong pedal killed 10 people when his car plunged into an outdoor market.

Since at least the 1980s, researchers have pointed to the propensity for drivers to press the accelerator instead of the brakes. In a 1989 study, Richard A. Schmidt, a psychologist now at the University of California, Los Angeles, described how disruptions to neuromuscular processes can cause the foot to deviate from the intended motion, even slipping from the brake to the accelerator. And when the car accelerates unexpectedly, Mr. Schmidt said, even experienced drivers can panic, “braking” even harder.”
I hope that answers your question.

mrrich724's avatar


if a rider in a black jacket, with a black helmet is riding behind a black truck, and there are two TINY motorcycle-brake-lights, it is very easy for that rider to blend in with the truck in front of them. just because it “can’t happen to you” doesn’t mean it can’t happen. and as carlos said, it does happen.

People don’t WANT to hit bikers, and sometimes it’s negligence, but most of the time, I’d wager that they simply didn’t see them.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@Carlos2273 Thanks for the statistics, but they are meaningless unless they are put into context compared to the alternative. Do you have any for the number of bikers injured when they are caught between lanes as the traffic starts to move?

@mrrich724 Peripheral vision has much lower detail than vision directly in front of you. If the bike is straight in front, your detail vision should be able to pick up the textural differences, but if it is next to you then it will be hard to see. I agree that many motorcycle accidents are the result of them not being seen, but people who cannot see a bike right in front of them do not have sufficient vision to be a safe driver, and therefore should have their licence revoked.

Carlos2273's avatar

@ FireMadeFlesh this was your question “How many people are stupid enough to hit the accelerator instead of the brake anyway? You two make it seem like an innocent mistake anyone could make!” I answered it with a statistic, now you say its meaningless. If your going to keep arguing against lanesplitting bring your own stats to the debate, I’m not going to keep doing your homework. Like I stated earlier the California highway patrol feels the risk of one outweighs the other. That is sufficiant. I find it interesting that you like the quote by Marcus Aurelius “If someone can prove me wrong and show me my mistake in any thought or action, I shall gladly change. I seek the truth, which never harmed anyone: the harm is to persist in one’s own self-deception and ignorance.” I’ve brought personal knowledge, experience and statistics. Yet you continue to argue with only opinion.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@Carlos2273 To provide a meaningful analysis, there needs to be a comparison of numbers. You will notice that I did not argue that line any further, but just asked for more information. I don’t expect you to conduct a large retrospective study to prove your point, but if you have some knowledge I would like to know what else you have.

It took nearly five years for the biggest change in my life to happen, and another two years for the next biggest. Still, I realised I was wrong and I changed. So far I have four posts from you in just over one day, and already I think you have a point. Give me a chance before you call me stubborn – ideas don’t change overnight.

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