It’s been almost four years since I wrote a post called “What Motorcyclists Wish You Knew.” While I still wish that every driver would read that post, I realize that there are always going to be bad drivers out there and it’s up to me to stay safe. I’ve been riding for seven years now and I feel like I’ve developed a sixth sense about traffic situations. 99% of people on the road follow a bunch of undefined social norms. The trick is to look for any car that is straying even slightly from the norm. It’s easy to spot the guy flying up behind you and weaving in and out of traffic erratically, but what about that car about a quarter mile up who keeps drifting slightly out of their lane or the person in the lane next to you who keeps slowing down to 50 before speeding back up to the speed limit. Those people seem more dangerous to me because they’re probably on their phones and are very unaware of what’s going on around them.
But if I could boil down that previous post to one item and share it with everyone, it would be “don’t ever enter a lane in front of a motorcycle.” That means don’t merge in front of a motorcycle on a highway or pull out in front of a motorcycle from a side street. It’s really hard to judge the speed of a motorcycle with a quick glance since the size is so different. Now if you turn on your blinker, wait for the biker to acknowledge you and wave you over, by all means go for it. But squeezing into that little space like you would between two cars is just not smart.
And while we’re at it, this applies to trucks too. I spent a lot of time on 405 in stop and go traffic and it blows my mind how many people will use the space in front of a semi to change lanes, even when traffic is coming to a halt. Why do you think that big space is there in front of the 30 ton behemoth? I’ll give you a hint: it’s not for you to cut into.
So be safe out there this summer! Pay extra attention to motorcycles around you and give them a little extra room. Yes, some riders are jerks, but the vast majority of us are just out to have a little extra fun on our commute. I’ll leave you with one little story from a ride a couple years ago. I was stopped in a line of traffic when a lady came whipping up the side and tried to cut into the spot that I was occupying. Thankfully she slammed on the brakes in time but she ended up close enough that I gave her a solid pound on her window with my fist. She rolled it down and started yelling at me. I waited for her to finish, flipped open my visor and said, “After you took this spot, were you planning on calling my wife to tell her why I won’t be home for dinner?”