Lane splitting is awesome isn’t it? You save a ton of time and you get an entire piece of road, all to yourself!
This lane splitting tip is based on New Zealand roads, where the “fast lane” is on the far right hand side, if overtaking a car, you are meant to move to the right hand side and overtake. Motorway exits in New Zealand are located on the left hand side only at the time of writing this.
Most of us who lane split have probably encountered the situation below. You approach traffic and one lane has cars backed up quite a lot further than another. In most cases, because many drivers love to stick to the RHS (Right Hand Side) lane, the RHS is nearly always backed up. You, being a motorcyclist , are nearly always in the fast lane, too. Now, you either have the option of coming to a stop behind the car in front or initiating lane splitting. I will nearly always choose to lane split – because leaving my life in the hands of some driver that is meant to slow down from around 100kph to almost zero is not a lottery I want to take part in.
The question is, what is the best, safest way to begin lane splitting?
In my experience, the best and safest way is to do the following, ideally:
– Check with mirrors and a brief head check to see if lane A is free to move into.
– If lane A is free, move into it. If it is not free, begin to slow down as worst case you may need to stop behind the car ahead of you in lane B.
– Move into lane A when safe to do so.
– Approach the car head of you in lane A. Stick to the left hand half of the lane rather than the right hand half – all the way until you begin to lane split in the next step. As you get close to car A, ensure that the cars in lane B do not suddenly change into the empty spot in lane A, potentially knocking you off!
– Begin lane splitting when you’re close to the car ahead of you in lane A and about level with the driver of the last car in lane B. That way, if the driver in lane B changes lanes, you’re almost guaranteed to be out of harm’s way by the time they cross the line. Remember to check your rear view mirror and head check if possible to ensure another bike isn’t lane splitting already behind you, as you pull out to lane split.
This approach is best, for a number of reasons:
– If you approach the last car in lane B and then decide to lane split at the last minute, the car in Lane B can change lanes (as many drivers do when they see an empty spot). This can put you in trouble as you may need to take evasive action.
– If you decide to lane split at the last minute, there may be a car in lane A going much faster than you or any other car close by. This could mean you risk being swiped by the car if you pull out or have to suddenly brake as you can’t pull out to lane A and need to stop behind the car in lane B.
– By changing to lane A early, you don’t need to worry as much about what the cars behind you in lane B are doing as you’re shielded by the last car in lane B. You only need to watch out for other riders who may have already been lane splitting at a much faster rate and don’t follow the advice above.