Safe lane-splitting tips Pinoy riders can learn from the US

Plus a couple of pointers specifically for local riding conditions
by Aris Ilagan | Feb 28, 2020
PHOTO: Aris Ilagan

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) has made it clear that lane splitting—or riding in between rows of vehicles traveling in the same direction—is illegal, based on data that it’s one of the major causes of accidents on our roads.

But honestly, tell us: Do you see lane-splitting riders being apprehended? Not really, right? And it’s largely because of this that something illegal becomes normal.

In California, lane splitting—otherwise known as lane sharing—was declared legal in 2017, based on studies showing that it’s a safe way for motorcyclists and other road users to share public roads and tollways. State law, however, specifies that lane splitting may be done only in gridlock or when traffic is moving slowly.

“Motorcycle safety studies have said that lane splitting, though unnerving to some drivers and apprentice motorcyclists, is safer than not splitting when done intelligently—principally because it reduces the risk of a rider being hit from behind while stopped in freeway traffic,” according to a feature by the Los Angeles Times.

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The same LA Times feature also highlighted the California Highway Patrol’s guidelines on safe lane splitting. Let’s learn from these eight tips:

1) “Consider the total environment when you are lane splitting.”

“This includes the width of lanes, the size of surrounding vehicles, as well as current roadway, weather, and lighting conditions.”

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2) “Danger increases at higher speed differentials.”

A speed differential is the difference between your speed as you ride your bike and the speed of the other vehicles around you.

3) “Danger increases as overall speed increases.”

This is self-explanatory.

4) “It is typically safer to split between the far left lanes than between the other lanes of traffic.”

This follows the same principle as the ‘no overtaking on the right lane’ policy.

5) “Avoid lane splitting next to large vehicles.”

Always remember that these giant transporters have lots of blind spots.

6) “Riding on the shoulder is illegal; it is not considered lane-splitting.”

For Pete’s sake, please memorize this.

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7) “Be visible—avoid remaining in the blind spots of other vehicles or lingering between vehicles.”

It is also important you can see the rear- and side-view mirrors of the vehicle in front or beside him to make sure that you’re visible to the driver of the vehicle.

8) “Help drivers see you by wearing brightly colored/reflective protective gear and using high beams during daylight.”

If you’re into black riding leathers and accessories, that’s fine, but see to it that your gear features bright and reflective accents that will make you easy to spot on the road, especially at night.

Of course, we need some tips specifically for Philippine riding conditions. Here are additional tips from Moto Sapiens:

  1. Anticipate the movements of the driver and passengers of the vehicles in front of you. For one reason or another, they might open a door all of a sudden in standstill traffic.
  2. When in doubt, blow your horn—gently, rather than going for an all-out blare—just to warn vehicles ahead that look like they’re about to shift lanes without being aware of your presence.
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If you have any other suggestions, we will be more than glad to hear from you. Hit us up in the comments section.

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PHOTO: Aris Ilagan
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