Lane-Splitting: the Road Rage versus Lane Sharing

Rider between the lanes 1 photo
Well, here we are at the end of the lane-splitting coverstory, with only a few final considerations to be made. We've covered the "it's not fair" false complaints, as well as the "it's not safe" claims from those who so vocally oppose lane-splitting laws.
As a very brief recap of the first two episodes, we'd add that filtering through traffic is both fair and safe, when the riders are not behaving like mindless idiots with a death wish, and when other motorists don't use the roads as if they are the only chaps who drive on the face of the earth.

Surely, accidents do happen, but when one or even both of the guys involved in a crash are morons, that crash tends to lose its "accidental" character and steps more onto the "should have seen this coming" side of life.

Is a change of terms a helping hand?

Before tackling the last aspects, we cannot overlook a very rational suggestion coming from Jack Percival, one of our readers. Jack brought forward a rather interesting idea that's aimed at making the whole lane-splitting thing a bit more palatable, especially for those who cringe so much on political correctness and often prefer to hide behind dull, empty words.

This “lane sharing” business has been around for some time now, and we are happy that Jack pointed it out. He proposes that, instead of "lane splitting", we should refer to this practice as "lane sharing." We are not huge fans of inventing complex names for casual things (see George Carlin, for a good reference and a good laugh), but this idea might just work.

For some reason, "lane-splitting" may sound a bit too aggressive to the ears of motorists. Splitting is maybe associated with force and destruction and gods know what else. At the same time "sharing" is a much more common thing (thanks, social media) and bears a less warlike sonority to the ears of the mentioned fellows.

Even more, it is in more than a way, closer to what's really happening out there in the street. Bikes and cars are effectively sharing the same lane. The act of sharing involves friendliness and maybe it could help the opponents of filtering get past their enmity with the riders.

Honestly, we all could exercise a bit of extra friendliness when on the road, regardless of how many wheels we have under the softest parts of the body. Whether on two or eighteen wheels, being a calm, friendly road user could work miracles in certain situations.

After all, a motorcycle WILL get to its destination quicker than 99.5% of the other vehicles in most cases. Being mad and frustrated because of this reality is not helping anyone; instead, it can cause an awful lot of harm.

Real marketing for traffic management versus real idiots

This problem is old and will most likely tarry for as long as traffic will remain as it is now (people operating vehicles). No matter how strongly safety-concerned guys would advocate extra friendliness on the road, there will always be idiots to ruin everything. And we all know that evil stuff spreads at a much greater speed than good deeds, don't we?

Idiots are to be found in both camps, riders and drivers. The former will speed like they are looking for the ideal place to commit suicide by crashing into a carpool. The latter would continue to NOT check with their mirrors when the traffic slows down, or before changing lanes and cut riders (and other fellow drivers) off.

Believe it or not, one such idiot causing a lane sharing (sic!) crash is enough to null months of road safety campaigns and momentarily destroy whatever trust and understanding people begin to develop for each other on the road.

We've seen this happening more than once, but frankly, haven't lost faith that someday people will understand that such morons are THE EXCEPTION and not the rule.

Mutual understanding SHARING

The whole lane sharing concept goes deeper than the mere meaning of the word. If I wer to design the guidelines of a campaign to raise awareness on this subject, I'd probably go with making all motorists understand that they don't OWN the road.

Not for a brief period of time, and not a certain section of the road. All those who use the road at a given time have their rights and duties. Assuming that one of them is "primus inter pares" (the first among equals) is the root of all evil.

Riders should know that no driver can be focused on all variables all the time, just as any driver should expect that certain riders will try to benefit from the better acceleration and narrower build of their two-wheelers to filter ahead… regardless of whether this maneuver is legal or not. I may sound a bit crazy now, but I DO believe that lane sharing is a great way to help traffic and making it illegal should be illegal, if you catch my drift.

Lane sharing is as natural as overtaking, and just like overtaking, it should be done following certain rules, many of them being, in fact, common sense rules. Unfortunately, a lot of drivers are killed yearly alongside the passengers in their cars and the occupants of other vehicles involved in the crash because one of the vehicles is not playing by the rules.

Lane sharing does not introduce a new level of danger, just as overtaking did not. However, skip obeying the rules of the game, and we're all on the shortcut to catastrophe.

As for the road rage...

It only gets worse with those who think that road rage is the answer. Think cars pulling in front of bikes so that the space between the two lanes is too narrow, thus bringing the car to a halt, riders who force their way between the cars and who often give drivers a good scare and the list can be extended with numerous other actions or behaviors that lead to the escalation of conflict.

Understanding that we can all SHARE the road in a sensible, reasonable and safe way, and driving/riding knowing that nobody is perfect could, as I've already said, work miracles.

Make lane sharing legal and let riders choose whether they filter or not

This point of view is apparently becoming more and more popular. The state should make lane sharing legal, and then leave the decision to filter ahead to the riders themselves. If a thing becomes legal, it doesn't necessarily mean that it is also compulsory.

I know more than one guy who would never split lanes while the other vehicles are moving. He would carefully squeeze through stopped cars from time to time, but this is such a rare thing that I'd rather say it doesn't happen at all.

When a rider doesn't feel confident enough to share the lane and get in front, it's fine. The worst that can happen is to be teased by his or her fellow riders who would have to wait, but even so, everything would be safe.

All in all, lane sharing could effectively become everyday practice and a very safe one, too. It's, however, up to the law-making bodies to create the legal environment for it. It's not such a hard thing, don't believe the politicians when they complain about this.

It's all down to a matter of good will and a little vision... not exactly the main qualities of most politicians, I'll give you that. Still, legal lane sharing could become a reality, and I hope to live the day to report on such a moment.

Like always, watch out, ride safe!
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