Motorcycles will usually ride close to the centerline of the roadway for various reasons. Riding close to the edge of the pavement can cause a motorcyclist’s tires to hit debris that has fallen into or onto the roadway, like glass or small rocks.
It can also make it difficult for drivers in other vehicles – who are not paying attention or are simply unaware of motorcycles’ proximity – to see them at all since they’re outside of their field of view.
Here are a few common reasons they ride close to the centerline:
More roads to use
Motorcycles are much smaller than passenger cars, but they still require a large amount of road to travel on. Riding close to the edge of the pavement means that more road space is required for each motorcycle relative to its size.
This can help protect motorcyclists from hazards like debris or other vehicles. Hence, riding close to the traffic lane allows motorcycles and other vehicles to pass each other without encroaching on or scraping against one another.
Motorcycles have a better view of their surroundings when they’re closer to traffic because there’s less glass between them and traffic – pitch darkness is not the ideal condition for seeing potential threats in parking lots or garages.
Maximize reaction time
It could be argued that staying in the center of the lane is more dangerous than riding close to it. This is because motorcyclists only have a fraction of a second to react to hazards like debris and vehicles, so staying close allows their tires and feet to respond more quickly.
Easily visible in the rearview mirror
The center of the lane also allows motorcyclists to see behind themselves better, so they don’t have to turn their heads to look back at potential threats. This is why many drivers believe that motorcycles should stay in the right lane while they are on the highway.
Prevents lane sharing by other bikers
Riding close to the traffic lane might also be beneficial for motorcyclists who do not know another biker. If they ride at an angle, they will not see a motorcycle coming from the side. This can mean that they don’t have to stop to let an unknown motorcyclist pass them, which allows them to stay in a higher speed environment and increase their chances of increasing their average speed.
Why riding to the centerline is not as dangerous as you think?
Ride past your lane capacity:
The farther you ride from the right edge of the lane, the more traffic you must pass. This means that you may find yourself riding past your capacity and exceeding the speed limit, so you must be more cautious with your riding technique and in selecting a safe speed.
- It gets slippery when wet: Motorcycle tires work best when they have a tight contact with the road, which means that riding at a very high speed is necessary to keep traction. The tires are more likely to slide when the pavement is wet and slippery since there will be less tire pressure.
- It’s not a good idea to manage lanes: Riding past the halfway point of your lane takes you into the area of other driver’s blind spots, where they are least likely to see you. You may also find yourself riding right in the center of cross-traffic, which can be a risky move for drivers on either side who may be making blind turns.
- Lane splitting: This is why we suggest that when you ride in heavy traffic, stay in the portion of your lane closest to traffic (that portion outside oncoming traffic’s lane) as opposed to staying in the centerline when there is heavy traffic around. This is because there is a higher risk of being rear-ended than being hit from behind by a car.
- It’s not a good idea to cross traffic: You may think that it’s safer to ride in the center of the lane because you can easily see what the vehicles around you are doing. But if they are taking turns, they may not be able to see you, and if they see something in front of them, they might not be able to stop – meaning that you could get hit and killed by another motorist.
- It’s a good idea to keep moving: It’s a good idea to keep moving while you’re on a motorcycle. If you’re in the middle of traffic, it may be difficult for you to choose the safest path in this case.
- Look out for cars in parking lots and garages: Since motorcycles generally behave like they are traveling at high speeds, they can be hard to see in parking lots and garages where cars are much slower than on the road.
Instead of riding into such areas at high speed, it would be better if you found a way through these areas without taking a risk of being hit or getting scratched by cars parked much faster than your speed.
What is lane splitting?
Lane splitting is something that happens when different motor vehicles share a single lane by passing through it side-by-side. It’s common for motorcycles to do so – but not for cars. The motorcycle is at a disadvantage because it can only move in the direction that its wheels allow, while cars have four wheels that can turn to change lanes. However, large trucks can also lane split; this is done particularly when there are no available lanes for them to pass in traffic.
What’s the safest part of a lane for a motorcycle to ride in?
Some people suggest that motorcycles should stay in the left lane since it is safer, but they often forget that cars also use the left lane. This can be a dangerous idea as many drivers and other motorcyclists will think that passing in the left lane is safer because it’s farther away from them.
This means that passing motorcycles may take actions that are not safe, such as rushing forward, trying to pass improperly, or even facing forward when they shouldn’t. These actions are not safe, so staying near the center of a lane is better than traveling on the side of it.
Why is lane splitting dangerous?
- Cars on the road may not see you: You may think that it’s safer to lane split because it gets you farther away from cars, but in reality, you are not safe if there are cars on the road because they might still see you. The most dangerous situation is when there is no way for the car to see you coming, which means that they may not slow down even though they do see your motorcycle. This can lead to an accident involving you and a car.
- When cars are not looking, they are freer to swerve: You might be surprised to learn that lane splitting is still legal in several states – but this is only when there is space between lanes. When cars are moving closer together on the road, they will tend to try to open up space for you, making it more likely that they will try to drift out at a higher speed than you are traveling.
- Lane splitters must negotiate their lane: This can make it more difficult for you to take action when there is a problem with the car in front of you than if you’re sitting in the center portion of your lane and can respond quickly.
- Cars may even try to pass you: Cars on the road may try to pass you when they move over to your lane. This is a very dangerous situation because they are changing lanes and moving at a high speed when they do this, meaning that they will not be able to stop if you suddenly slow down, which can cause an accident.
- A car may try to get out of your way dangerously: Even if the cars on the road do see you, if they must get out of your way because there are no safe places for them to pass, they are more likely to drive quickly than normal.
On a multi-lane highway, which lane should a motorcycle ride in?
In general, it’s recommended that a motorcycle should stay in the center of a lane when there’s not much traffic around because it’s safe to do so. However, if you are on a long stretch of road without any lanes, it may be best for you to ride in the left or right-hand lane. This is because the lanes will generally be longer and you can find somewhere in your lane where cars won’t see you as well.
What lane position is the best for riding in groups?
The best position for a group of riders to ride in is in the middle of their lane. This is because it is easier for you to see other motorcyclists than if you are riding in the center of your lane, and this can prevent dangerous situations such as you being hit by another motorist. At the same time, there will be many cars on the road and it’s better if they don’t have to worry about your motorcycles getting in the way.
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