Wednesday, January 6

Motorist Lane Splitting

Motorcyclists Sharing a Lane with Motorists,
Commonly Called "Lane Splitting."

From Wikipedia

I can't say I'm a fan of the term "lane sharing" or "shareable lane" when it comes to cycling. It's applied almost universally, but, in reality, we're talking about a two abreast situation with one of the vehicles being a car and the other being a bicycle. Since, in most cases, this results in the passing automobile creeping at least onto the lane dividing line(s) to the motorist's left, this situation is precisely the reverse of the situation when a motorcycle passes a car without making a full lane change. THIS is commonly called "Lane Splitting." Yes, I've been diligently studying my "Proficient Motorcycling: The Ultimate Guide to Riding Well." According to wikipedia, which is where the photo came from, Lane Splitting is also called Lane Sharing. Hmm.

Words may not matter, but motorist lane splitting sounds a lot less friendly and safe than sharing. It also reflects the reality that splitting or changing lanes is the decision of the motorist unless the cyclist rides so that being split is not an option (as in the "Line of Sweetness"). Maybe it's because I grew up before Sesame Street. Anyway, going a bit further, all those "Share the Road" signs ought to be "Split with Caution."

I imagine other terms might be both accurate and descriptive, but "Lane Splitting" has the benefit of already being a commonly applied term. In the photo, if it were the motorist passing a bicyclist, indeed people would refer to it AS lane sharing.

BTW, people on bikes frequently lane split as well. Typically, it involves riding up along the right side of stopped traffic (with or without a bike lane), hoping nobody is going to turn right at the intersection or into a driveway. I know of nobody that thinks this is perfectly fine, unless there IS a bike lane. Somehow, that makes it all OK.

The multimillion dollar question is: Why is it illegal (except in California) for a motorcyclist to share a lane with a motorist but bicyclists are cited for not encouraging motorists to lane split?

Stepping back down off my soapbox...

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