Long, but interesting: Lane splitting
Is what I do every day in our rush hour clogged little country.
I get a carpenters eye for wriggling through, 108CM mirrors wide.
Here's an consice article on lane splitting.
Lane Splitting: A Guide to the Game
by Richard D. Grazia
Lane splitting, like baseball, is a game of inches. In baseball, judging small distances accurately wins games. In motorcycling, it gets you home early and in one piece.
For five years, I have been commuting from Berkeley to San Francisco and back every day, 15 miles along the I-80 corridor and across the Bay Bridge. Often, I lane-split the whole distance, saving about an hour a day in travel time. The tips in this article result from that experience.
If you can ride on freeways fairly comfortably but haven't lane-split yet, practice judging the distance between two stationary objects wider than your motorcycle, then find the midpoint of that distance. That mid-point is where you'll want to be in any lane-split or passing move.
While lane-splitting, you are measuring distances, acting and reacting to your observations. The situation is fluid and changes take place in tenths of seconds or less. When traffic stops, the situation goes static. You become the only dynamic player.
Moving through stopped or slowly moving traffic is actually a combination of lane- splitting and lane-changing. The gap is where you find it; how you use it and avoid contact is the challenge.
Make sure your bike is in tune, has good brakes and good rubber.
Without cars around you, practice riding on lane buttons. Take a firm grip on your handlebars. Riding on the buttons will shake your bike, but it won't tip you over. Get used to the feeling; you'll be riding on the buttons occasionally while you're between cars.
To pass one car in slowly-moving traffic on the freeway, place yourself behind a car that has plenty of space in front of it. (Cars should be running parallel to your chosen car.) Line up to the right or left side (whichever affords the most space) of your chosen car. Make sure you're in a low enough gear to provide adequate roll-on power. Check your mirrors, then look up your route. If it's clear, give it the gas. Pass the car and pull into the forward space. You have just lane-split. When you're comfortable with the one-car pass, up the ante to two cars, then three and so on.
Lane-splitting is essentially a hand-eye coordination activity. The operative term here is "eye." If you don't see what's happening around you, you'll never make the right move.
Keep your eyes moving: check the situation way up ahead. Read the intention of the vehicles near you; check your mirrors. Don't stare. At 30 mph, you are traveling at 44 feet per second. At that speed, you travel 4.4 feet in a tenth of a second.
Cover the front brake lever with two fingers. If you have to stop, you'll be able to save a bit of reaction time, which translates into distance. Stopping even one inch away from an obstruction is good.
Relax your arms by bending them slightly at the elbows. Remember to breathe. If you become tired, stop lane-splitting for awhile.
Check your mirrors before starting any lane-splitting move. A fellow lane-splitter, closing quickly from behind as you enter the gap, could spoil your whole day. l also periodically check my mirrors while lane-splitting. If I see another lane-splitter coming up behind me, I can decide whether to pull over or speed up.
Control direction and speed with smooth micro-inputs, knees to tank, hands countersteering, hand to throttle. You don't have room for big maneuvers.
When the gap narrows and your move isn't going to work, slow down, drop back into a lane, or stop between lanes if you have to. Yo! stay cool.(Vic)
Make sure your mirrors and bar-ends will clear van, truck and car mirrors. It's not a major deal when they connect, usually just a loud clacking noise, but it is embarrassing. Other drivers may not like you just for lane-splitting, but tapping their mirrors out of adjustment makes it worse.
Be patient at merges. Other drivers often change lanes here, trying to gain some advantage. That's their illusion. Wait until they settle down. You are the only one who can really take advantage of the traffic situation.
Be wary of solo drivers who use car pool lanes to get ahead of the traffic jam in the non- car pool lanes. At the last minute, they will try to enter the jam; if you are about to make a pass at that point, the results will not be amusing.
When other vehicles, whether signaling or not, start a lane-change maneuver, don't accelerate in an attempt to get past them. Give them the right of way.
Be aware of empty spaces to the side of the car that you intend to lane-split past. Try to go by before the driver is aware of you. Failing that, if the car tries to move over while you're on the side of his car, match the car's move if you have the space. Your other option is again to be patient for a bit. The relationships will change, the car's place will be taken by another vehicle, and you can lane-split the two safely.
Passing another motorcycle which appears to be staying in a lane presents an interesting problem: It's as hard to tell if the rider knows you're there as it is to judge a car driver's awareness of your presence. The motorcyclist has your flickability, however. If you fell certain that the rider is holding steady in a lane, zap past. If you're uneasy about the motorcyclist's intentions, lane-change away and go about your business.
Most drivers place their vehicle near the left side of their lane. They are sighting on the lane divider nearest to them. In most instances, your position should be on the right side of the lane. This will give you the most maneuvering room.
In order to pass between sets of lane buttons without riding over them, sight on the last button of the front set and quickly make your move. Usually, you'll pass smoothly through, or at worst ride over the last button. Whatever you do, don't get hung up on not riding over the buttons. Not hitting or being hit by other vehicles is what's happening.
The great race car driver Juan Fangio once said, "I drive just fast enough to win." You probably shouldn't ride between vehicles at more than 10 to 15 mph faster than they are traveling. If they're stopped, they are traveling 0 mph.
Even though lane-splitting is legal in some states, whether you'll get pulled over by the police is dependent on whether or not they feel what you are doing is safe. The catch, of course, is that each patrolman has a different criteria for what constitutes "safe." Ride in a manner which you feel is safe for you. If you get ticketed, plead not guilty and take it to a jury. The ticket is a judgment call. Obviously, you are in the right or you wouldn't have been lane-splitting. Was it safe? Hell, yes! The fact that you're standing in court with all your limbs intact is proof of that. At any rate, keep an eye out for the cops just in case.
Being aware of the lethal danger you're in and simultaneously ignoring it is a requirement of lane-splitting. This ability is composed of experience, guts and self confidence.
Lane-splitting is as much fun and as challenging as a mile of technical enduro landscape or miles of canyon carving.
The flow of freeway traffic is like a river. Learn to read every ripple and snag in the pattern.
The whole freeway is your playing field. The gap between vehicles is where the game is played.
On a motorcycle, you are in another space- time continuum from other vehicles. No wonder they don't see you.
When you are all going the same speed - cars, trucks and motorcycles - holding position, you are motionless, relative to one another. When you accelerate slightly, the pattern changes, but only at a difference of several miles per hour. (All vehicles are moving at 65 mph., you accelerate to 67 mph. The situation changes at 2 mph.) Moves take place in relative slow motion.
The experienced eye can judge the mid- point of variably changing distances. Rear bumper to front fender of surrounding vehicles. It is a solvable three-body problem.
You will see other motorcyclists lane- splitting. It is a temptation to see who can go the fastest. Deal with the temptation as you see fit.
Henceforth, all car drivers will be known as "Civilians." However, when we drive cars, we will be known as motorcyclists.
Be in tune with your machine; the way it smells, the sounds it makes, the shadow it casts when you ride.
You have just lane-split all the way home in the rain, in the dark, at rush-hour on Friday night. You've had a great rideSooner or later, it hits even the best rider -- the sudden realization that your approach speed is much too fast for the corner rapidly filling your faceshield. It doesn't matter if you're a commuter cruising home from work or a racer who just suffered a lapse of attention at speed; riding out of this mess gracefully demands attention, skill and mental preparedness. Let's take the problem a stage at a time.
Decide to make it:
Your first emotion should be a firm determination to "ride through the corner". You have to stay mentally strong and supress any doubts, which can quickly explode into panic, and can overwhelm your ability to take charge of the situation. Too often a rider panics and locks the rear brake, losing his ability to control the situation. He then slides off a corner that he could have made if he simply had been resolved to do so.
Some riders simply freeze, and never make any control inputs at all. It's more comon for a rider to crash when he panics entering a corner that he could have completed than it is for a rider to fall trying to corner too hard. Learn to relax and maintain your body position and motorcycle control in these high-pressure circumstances.
Lead with your eyes:
You go where you look, so LOOK UP THE ROAD AND THROUGH THE CORNER where you want to go. Don't let you eyes begin searching for a place to crash. Part of overcoming panic is wrenching your eyes away from the ditch or railing or even the open field looming ahead and putting them where you want to turn. It's also the first step in actually turning that way.
Brake deep, lean hard:
If there's ever a moment when your braking practice pays off, it's now. As long as you have some significant pavement ahead, there is room to brake. The slower you go, the tighter an arc you can ride through the corner. Of course, the closer you come to the edge of the lane, the tighter an arc you NEED to stay there. Given sufficient room and hard enough braking, at some point your speed drops below the point at wich you can safely lean it over and drive through the corner. That speed is probably higher than you realize, however, unless you have spent some time on a racetrack exploring the outer edges of your bike's performance abilities. The only way you will learn how much your bike has left and how to use it fully is to practice. Learn from this experience:
A close call should reinforce your confidence if you handle it successfully, reminding you that you have a reserve to tap. It should also remind you of your limitations. In other words, either know your road, or slow down.
Miles of smiles of miles of smiles of...
The hardest thing to do on a K1200LT is riding it home.
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