Advocacy & Safety - Who splits lanes?
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07-20-06, 09:11 AM
Who splits lanes? If you don't know what that is then here you go. At stoplights where there is a long line of traffic stopped, you ride up to the very front of the line between the lines of traffic. The last place I want to be is at the back of a line of stopped traffic at a light. If you are fast enough, or traffic slow enough, you can do it between moving traffic. It is legal for motorcycles in California. I suspect it is illegal here where I am.
First its not the safest thing to do in most cases unless the cars in a WOL are very near the right edge and ones in left are near left edge of their lane. Even then people in cars do tend to not get a door shut all the way and may open their door to re shut it. Ive done it many many times with my dad driving and hes done it as well. In other words you could well and truely door your self.
Secound check your local laws to make sure its legal before you do it. As for moving trafic your crazy to do it even if your doign 3 times their speed. At any time a driver could drift over a bit and squash you between himself and another car. Then theres the fact that they might need to swing over a bit to pull in to a parking lot or drive way. If your riding like this your putting your self in a fair bit of danger. Even though going between trafic with cars on your left and right is legal if you have 3 feet of space to your right when you pass.
Still i wouldnt do it and i consider my self to be a very steady rider with very good bike handling skills.
I just would not feel comfortable doing it legal or not.
07-20-06, 09:45 AM
I don't do it. As Nova mentioned, splitting lanes makes you more vulnerable to car vs. bike collisions. Same goes for filtering. I don't do that, either. As a result, I often find myself at the "back of a line of stopped traffic at a light." Still, I am the operator of a street-legal vehicle and sometimes my vehicle is the last in line. As Kurtis Blow said, that's the breaks. But sometimes I'm first. When I am, I take the lane so that the cars behind me don't try to split my lane and "ride up to the very front."
I do it when it needs doing. It's risky, but I go slowly and keep my eyes open to manage that risk to my own satisfaction.
Legality is irrelevant to me.
07-20-06, 10:09 AM
cars split lanes with me, i split lanes with cars, and definetly look to pass stopped cars when i think it can be done safely.
pass the cars, pass the cars, pass the cars
07-20-06, 10:32 AM
Near me, Pacific Coast Highway in Laguna Beach has two lanes in each direction with on-street parking. It's bumper to bumper traffic on summer weekends. I find it much safer and easier to lane split than to filter forward in the door zone. When traffic becomes lighter and starts speeding up, then I just move into one of the gaps that forms in the right lane.
I do it carefully, I make sure that the vehicles I'm moving in front of either won't be able to pass me when the light changes, or they can pass me very easily when the light changes. I won't split lanes or filter past a big truck at a light or stop sign if that vehicle is likely to pass me again, because it's difficult for vehicles that size to give a cyclist enough room in heavy traffic.
07-20-06, 10:57 AM
I always do it when I have the chance, but I am very careful to not go much faster than traffic so I have some chance to react in case of an idiot move by cars.
In Florida, there is specific law that motorcycles cannot split lanes, but no prohibition for bicycles, so as far as I'm concerned, its legal.
07-20-06, 11:41 AM
I split lanes sometimes but not often. Mainly, I split lanes when there are so many cars in front of me that might not be able get through the intersection on that light cycle. The cars waiting behind me should appreciate this since, if I have to wait for a whole light cycle, then they do too. I recognize the safety and legal issues with this move so I'm pretty cautious about it.
07-20-06, 11:55 AM
It's legal to do this where I live from the right lane. That said, I'm very conservative about it out of concern that the average driver doesn't check their blind spot as frequently as they ought. If you're ever in doubt about whether you've been seen or if you would be seen if traffic began moving again, you might consider staying where you are. Based on observing people doing it in traffic, I would also think twice about splitting a lane and filtering forward in heavy traffic on a Friday afternoon when the motorists are already on the verge of assaulting one another unless you enjoy road rage directed at you or don't mind that another cyclist might catch it later because your actions riled up some horrid jerk.
07-20-06, 12:10 PM
I'll filter at at light, pretty often in fact (on a % basis). But I decide on where I will be after the light. If I'm going to be somewhere out of cars way I do it. If I'm going to end up taking the lane then I would simply be cutting in line and being an @ss. I don't do that. First because it is rude and second because one often gets back the same attitude that they give. If I tell cars I don;t care at all about them drivers may say the same back. And for a cyclist that is a losing proposition.
07-20-06, 01:14 PM
I've split lanes safely on motorcycles and it's just about the same with bikes. In most situations this practice can be safe, but you need to be aware of safe lane spliting practices. Not all lane splitting is wise and some will decide it is not worth the extra attention required for the rider rather than waiting a few moments.
GUIDE: How to split lanes safely
1. Is lane wide enough?
lane must be wide enough for both motor vehicles, bikes and at least a foot of clearance. [if not that wide, wait]
2. Can be be at front of line BEFORE green light changes?
at intersections be on lookout for light change. It is not safe to split in that time between A. light turning green and B. traffic coming up to normal speed. [why not, drivers won't watch for you. Hint use the opposite ped signal or left turn signals as an indicator light is about to turn green. In this time you want to be either in font of a vehicle or behind it but NOT beside it as that will put you in blind spot.]
3. Is there an emergency escape route available?
keep passing speed below a 10 to 15 mph differance [why, some drivers always do something weird, and you need both escape route and escape time]
4. Is driver actually driving?
watch each driver you are passing for any body language, i.e. leaning over [may open door on you], glancing around [may make sudden turn], or full of distracting passengers or cell phone.
5. Is driver in low skill group or low patience group?
check vehicle/driver passing: add extra caution, ie reduce splitting speed if driver under 30 [little experience == more risk] or red neck type [may decide to road rage you]
6. Is there clearance on the right side?
only split on the right side of vehicle you are passing. [drivers never check their left mirror or left side]
That's all. It's not rocket science nor is it especially dangerous . Most drivers don't care as you are not impeding their drive at all and by splitting lanes there is one less thing for them to worry about.
If you are going to split, your goal is to be at the front of the line, at least 1/2 a bike's length in front of the lead vehicle and standing on at least one foot BEFORE the light turns green. If you can't get there, then pick one of the vehicles in the line as your point and stay behind it.
07-20-06, 01:19 PM
Unless filtering forward is likely to save me an extra light, I'll just wait my turn.
But if I am filtering forward, i never go all the way to the front. As soon as I'm up far enough I look for a space, and a driver who doesn't mind, for me to move into.
I'm not sure why you'd want to annoy drivers as you put them in a position that they have to pass you. Just doesn't make a lot of sense to me.
07-20-06, 01:48 PM
If there's a long backup, I'll filter/split with no remorse. If another lane of motor vehicles could fit themselves onto the street, they'd do it in a flash. On any two lane same direction road I've ever been on, there's plenty of room in between the lines of stopped cars for a cyclist to causally ride through (note: not full speed though). Like HH and others, if it's not backed up far enough that I'll miss the light, I don't bother. If I know it's a short light, I don't mind waiting a few cycles either. If I have the choice between baking on the asphalt in between heat and CO spewing cars for 10 minutes or using space available to me to get through, I'm splitting those lanes.
07-20-06, 02:44 PM
I'm about as patient behind a long line of cars as a motorist would be behind a long line of bikes .
That is to say, not patient at all.
Given that zero percent of the motorists that pass me change lanes completely to do so, why would I have reservations about passing them in the same fashion? Traffic is bad enough around here that they rarely re-overtake me anyway.
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