I never intended to become “the motorcycle guy” at the office, and amongst my friends. When you don’t currently own a car and just ride a motorbike everywhere, it’s inevitable. As someone who rides a motorcycle daily, I see a lot of things on the road that make me take the name of Yeezus in vain. I’d like to share a few Dos and Donts with you.
No Crazy Ivans
Remember the movie “Hunt for Red October” that features Sean Connery doing a terrible Russian accent? One of the great things to enter our vernacular from the flick is pulling a “crazy Ivan.” If you’re driving a massive nuclear missile sub, or similarly-sized Tahoe, this involves looking up from texting your bestie about the location of your next Pilates class, and realizing the “OMG! I’m about to miss my exit! Evasive manouvers across 5 lanes!”
Often in the hurry to not miss the exit, and quickly move over several lanes, people don’t check their blind spot. It’s real easy to miss a motorcycle in this situation, and have to tell the gendarmes “I’m so sorry, I didnt see the bike” while we get a quick ticket to the road being a bad version of a slip and slide.
Give Us Space
Cars will often follow roughly 2.3 millimeters off the rear tire of a motorbike, possibly thinking that they are “drafting” and the highway is the banked tri-oval at Talledaga. Unless your name is Ricky Bobby, please don’t do this.
Also, not acceptable, is sharing a lane with a bike. Motorcycles don’t take up a full lane, but we are entitled to use the whole lane, just like you are. A smart rider will often switch positions within a lane depending on road conditions and whats going on around them. If a bike is staying to the right side of a lane, this is not an invitation to come snuggle up the left side of the lane. This is not appreciated, and may cause general surprise and possibly some creative swearing.
Put Your Phone Down
There’s not much to be said here that hasn’t already been said, so I will be brief. A lot of places make texting and driving against the law, and I wish it actually were enforced. Distracted driving causes a lot of rear-end accidents. If your luxo land-barge taps the rear or a car, it’s usually not a big deal, unless there’s high speeds involved.
The difference is this: if you hit a car, you may have to fix the bumper and hood. If you hit a bike, the bike is often totaled, and the rider could be seriously injured. This is a bad deal for the motorcyclist when all they were doing is riding their BMW GS around the corner to Starbucks while pretending to be Charlie and Ewan taking the long way ’round. [We love GS riders, they keep the farkle industry afloat – Ed.]
Don’t Break The Formation
When a group of bikes riders together, they spread out in what’s commonly known as a staggered formation. This alternates bikes in a lane, and mitigates the risk of accidents. Fairly often, merging cars will break into the formation. This is considered rude at best, and dangerous at worst. How do I know? Let me count the ways….
In a combination of a crazy Ivan and a break the formation, this year in Austin, a total jackwagon about to miss his on-ramp wedged between my friend Jose’s Tiger and my Sprint, collecting me in the process. The result? I spent a week in the hospital with several broken ribs. The damage to his Benz? Minimal.
Allow Us To Lanesplit
Lanesplitting or “filtering” on a motorbike is common practice in much of the world, and California in the U.S. Despite roughly 20 years of attempts at legislation, the AMA hasn’t been able to buy enough
Representatives votes, to get it legalized.
Lanesplitting in traffic jams helps keep us from being rear ended by distracted drivers, keeps our bikes from overheating, and does help us get to our destinations quicker. Cars get A/C and airbags, we get lanesplitting, win win.
Riding in Texas where lanesplitting is not specifically allowed is a bit of admitted civil disobedience. Several folks I ride with practice it under the proper “rules.” Just this morning while stuck on I35, I had a guy in a F150 ask me why I wasn’t lanesplitting. I replied that there was a merge just ahead and I had no where to go, even if I did start splitting lanes. May peace be with him.
Bonus: Don’t Camp Out In The Left Lane
Americans have terrible lane discipline. I’ve come to find that people first choose the lane they want to be in, THEN they choose how fast they want to go. If you drive a Lexus SUV or Prius, you’re likely a prime offender. Far too many folks seem to be card-carrying members of the Anti-Destination League. On a bike this isn’t as much of a problem, due to the sheer speed of motorbikes. You can do things in traffic you just can’t in a car. This in no way excuses parking in the left lane, while a growing mob of cars behind you start getting out their torches and pitchforks.
If your not Hall & Nass, please stay out of the left lane.
Odds are, the motorbike in the next lane over is just trying to get to where their going, the same as you. Please play nice and don’t play bumper…erm..cars with motorcycles. Have you seen anything in traffic that drives you bonkers? Comment below.