Steering Through Sticky Situations : Splitting Lanes !

In some states, it is legal for a motorcycle to ride between lanes of traffic. This is known as splitting lanes. Doing this when traffic is moving at normal speed is, of course, insane - a form of suicide. When traffic is moving normally, remain in your normal lane of traffic.

Lane splitting is not a task for a beginning rider. But for an experienced motorcyclist, splitting lanes when traffic is moving very slowly or is stopped can be as safe or safer than just sitting there, if for no other reason than it gets you out of traffic more quickly and reduces the amount of time you’re exposed to danger.

Some general rules help make lane splitting safer :

- Only ride about 10 or 15 miles per hour faster than traffic is moving. If traffic is moving at 15 mph, then ride no faster than 25 or 30 mph between lanes. If traffic is stopped, keep your speed under 15 mph. If you ride any faster, you won’t have time to react if someone pulls out in front of you.

- If traffic slows, don’t immediately hop between lanes and start lane splitting. Traffic may be slowing for just a moment and will speed up again. Make certain that traffic is slowing or stopping before lane splitting.

- Watch for other motorcyclists who might be lane splitting before pulling between the lanes. If traffic is stopping, the odds are some other motorcyclist has the same idea that you do. Focus primarily on what’s in front of you, but always be aware of what’s behind you.

- Watch for people changing lanes. If you see an open spot in traffic, you can almost count on someone crossing from another lane to take that spot. It’s best to try to keep a car on either side of you, which will block other vehicles from crossing your lane.

- If freeway traffic is stopped, or moving very slowly, it’s best to move over to the fastest (farthest left) lane before lane splitting. This decreases your odds of encountering merging traffic or drivers making sudden lane changes.

- When traffic stops, watch for people opening their car doors. It happens more often than you might think.