The first thing you were taught in driver’s education is to stay in your lane. It sounds simple, but many drivers have trouble veering and weaving even though their cars are roughly the width of the traffic lane. For motorcyclists, staying “in the lane” presents a whole different problem. A motorcycle only takes up about one-third of a standard traffic lane, but a biker’s lane position changes constantly in order to take turns and steer. If you are a biker, is it best to travel mainly in the center, or to the left or the right of the lane?
How to Choose Your Motorcycle Lane Position for Maximum Safety
Imagine that each traffic lane is split into three equal parts: the far left lane, center lane, and far right lane. Motorcycles can travel in any one of these positions at any given time and still technically be “in their lane.” However, there are advantages and disadvantages to each one. For instance, consider the following when riding your bike in the:
- Far left lane. Many motorcyclists choose to ride slightly offset of the traffic in front of and behind them, such as in the far left side of the lane. However, this can potentially place you in a driver’s blind spot. Even if you are visible in a driver’s side mirror, many drivers fail to check these before moving over. This position is also more likely to involve wind blast from other vehicles traveling in the opposite direction.
- Center lane. In most cases, the best position for bikers to see and be seen is in the center of every lane. This position makes you easily visible in the rearview mirror, prevents lane sharing by other bikers, and allows for sudden movements to either the right or the left. But the center lane also has a major drawback: oil dripping from other cars is most likely to gather straight down the middle of the lane, so you may wish to ride a few inches to the left or right of dead center.
- Far right lane. If there is only traffic to your left, you may consider traveling closer to the right. However, this places you nearer to the shoulder, making it more likely that you will come upon debris, loose gravel, or vehicles stranded at the side of the road.
The most important factor in selecting the best path while riding is to find a position where you can both see and be seen. Don’t be afraid to change positions as the flow of traffic changes around you, but make sure you always signal your intentions before moving.
As an avid biker, attorney James Roswold knows how difficult it is for motorcyclists to get the respect they deserve on the road. In his book, KC Biker Bible, he shares his experiences and gives bikers countless tips on improving their rides and maximizing safety. Click the link on this page to begin reading your free copy!