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 Post subject: Lane Positions
PostPosted: Mon Dec 03, 2012 5:15 pm 
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Joined: Feb 23, 2009
Motorcycle: Rebel 250 plus a few others
Rebel: 250
Country: Canada
State/Province: NB
City: Fredericton
Something for new riders to think about regarding lane position as you ride.
We all know that motorcycles are narrow and harder to see than a car. There is an upside to the narrow width of a bike in that a normal traffic lane is very wide compared to a bike, and proper selection of your lane position can do a lot to enhance your safety as you ride. You are entitled to the entire width of your lane, and where you choose to position yourself in it is quite important.

The best lane position will be constantly changing with the traffic situation, and it is always a case of selecting the lane postion to improve your odds of avoiding an accident or to improve your cornering performance.
I invite any questions or comments about any of this.

There are 3 possible positions in a lane, left, center and right. At any given time you pick one. Riding with one or more other bikes has some special rules involving the "stagger formation" which I won't discuss here. That's a whole other subject.

In the discussion that follows there are a number of rationales for lane selection that might apply to more than one situation. I'm just going to list them from the most significant and then refer to them by number later on. Just reading them should give you some ideas.

Rationales for selecting lane position:

1. better visibility to the car you are following in his side mirror
2. better visibility to oncoming traffic
3 better visibility to traffic entering from the right
4. more time and space from oncoming traffic
5. more time and space from same way traffic
6. more time and space from traffic entering from right or wildlife
7. better line of sight of the road ahead
8. more time and space from traffic on both sides
9. defending your lane position. make passer use the passing lane
10. minimizing lean angle required to turn

Riding Scenarios

Highway riding multilane divided

Cruise
Typically you would be in the left lane position of the right or center lane depending on your speed. (1,6,7,9) Overtaking traffic should typically pass to the left.

traffic to left or right same direction
Move to center if needed to get more space (8)

Overtaking
Left side of passing lane (5)

2 Lane Secondary Road


Cruise- following a car closely
Left lane position (1,2,6,7,9) Caution: you are hidden by the car you are following from traffic entering from the right. you may want to slow and fall back approaching an intersection or switch briefly to the right lane position if you see traffic waiting to enter from a driveway.
A motorcycle headlight following to the left or right of a car is just as visible to an oncoming car as another car would be in the same position.

Cruise- no other traffic present
Left lane position(6,9)

Cruise- oncoming traffic only
Right lane position (4) This is a little rule of thumb I only adopted myself in the last few years after we had a horrific incident in this area where a car drifted over the centerline and wiped out several oncoming bikes. Distracted drivers kill, so you might as well give oncoming cars a wide berth just because you can. You will have more time to react if he does something stupid.

Cruise- entering a corner at speed no traffic
left side for a right turn, right side for a left turn (7,10)
Generally in a fast corner you want to enter wide and leave wide so you enter and leave from the outside lane position, and move across the lane to touch the inside lane position at the APEX of the corner. On the street its best to delay the turn in until the last possible second, so you get the best possible view around the corner and can complete the turn on the road you can see. The requires a little more slowing down than for the true "racing" line. This is the "delayed apex" technique discussed by David Hough in " Proficient Motorcycling"
Use your discretion. If its a very slow corner you may decide to hold a fixed lane postion, but if there is any significant lean angle, you want to minimize it so you can go faster easier. It gives you more margin for error or misjudgement.

Cruise- being passed
center (5)
Don't dive into the ditch, but make a little more room until the car or truck gets by.

cruise- no traffic blind hill
center(4,6) Best flexibility to move away from an unseen hazard.



City Streets

Generally the same rules apply in the city at lower speeds. one difference is that you are constantly approaching stoplights at intersections where there may be oncoming traffic looking to turn left in front of you (left turners:: the biggest killer of motorcyclists)

Approaching intersection with oncoming traffic only
move left to right and back to the left (2). your movement makes you more obvious. Slow down, move right slowly as you enter the intersection (4)

approaching stop light behind a car.
stop in left lane position with front wheel pointed to the left of the car ahead. (1,2,7) Watch your mirrors and be ready to pull up beside the car ahead if it looks like you may be rear-ended.
Never ride or stop in the middle of the lane (That's where the oil and potholes will be, plus you have to steer around a car ahead to get out of the way if you need to move quickly.)


Turning at an intersection

Center of the lane. (9,10) This is a compromise.. You are defending your lane and not encouraging cars to try to pass as you turn, thus pushing you off the road. You are widening the turn (particularly a right turn) so you can keep your speed up and minimize being overtaken by following traffic as you turn (possible rear end collision). I generally check the mirror in a right turn and stay left until I start the turn if there is nothing trying to pass on the inside. By doing this you can maintain speed and not be overtaken as you slow way down to turn. Being overtaken is a chance to be rear ended.
OF course, common sense applies.. watch for pedestrians and slow to yield as necessary.

This is a very long post, and doesn't cover everything. Feel free to ask a question or add a comment.

_________________
2004 Honda Rebel 250
2003 BMW K1200GT
2004 BMW R1200GS
1996 Ducati 900SS
1973 Norton 850 Interstate


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 Post subject: Re: Lane Positions
PostPosted: Mon Dec 03, 2012 6:03 pm 
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Joined: Oct 16, 2005
Motorcycle: 2014 CB500XA
Rebel: None
Country: USA
State/Province: AZ
City: Green Valley
Thank you. Refreshers are always welcome. ;-)

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John, 2014 CB500XA (Daily Rider), 2009 CRF230L (L'il Red Piglet), 1989 NX250 - sold, 2001 Rebel - sold
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 Post subject: Re: Lane Positions
PostPosted: Mon Dec 03, 2012 6:21 pm 
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Joined: Sep 30, 2012
Motorcycle: SHADOW, REBEL, NIGHT HAWK
Rebel: 250
Country: USA
State/Province: AR
City: Forrest City
Nice write up Duckster.

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85 REBEL 250
93 NIGHTHAWK 250
83 NIGHTHAWK 650
"Semper Fi Do or Die Devil Doc ALWAYS Tries"
"Through the Gates of Hell for a Wounded Marine"


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 Post subject: Re: Lane Positions
PostPosted: Sun Jun 23, 2013 10:23 am 
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Joined: Apr 16, 2013
Rebel: 250
Country: USA
City: Chicago
Was rear-ended the other day while waiting at a stop light. A p/u truck hit me and knocked me down. The driver told the cop I dropped the bike. Driver told me his foot slipped off the brake pedal. When I checked his position he appeared ten feet back of me.

I removed the plate bracket and bent the fender back to original shape or position.

I ordered a crash bar.


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 Post subject: Re: Lane Positions
PostPosted: Sun Jun 23, 2013 11:14 am 
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Joined: Feb 23, 2009
Motorcycle: Rebel 250 plus a few others
Rebel: 250
Country: Canada
State/Province: NB
City: Fredericton
Sorry to hear of your misfortune.. Rear end collisions are the worst because there is little you can do to avoid them. If you leave lots of room between you and the car stopped ahead of you, and point the bike past one side or the other of it, you can quickly pull ahead out of harms way if you get any warning at all of a car approaching from the rear. That assumes you have the bike in first gear with the clutch pulled.

_________________
2004 Honda Rebel 250
2003 BMW K1200GT
2004 BMW R1200GS
1996 Ducati 900SS
1973 Norton 850 Interstate


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 Post subject: Re: Lane Positions
PostPosted: Sat Jun 29, 2013 12:58 pm 
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Joined: May 16, 2013
Motorcycle: Honda Rebel
Rebel: 250
Country: U.S.A.
State/Province: MO
City: Leadwood
"Turning at an intersection

Center of the lane. (9,10) This is a compromise.. You are defending your lane and not encouraging cars to try to pass as you turn, thus pushing you off the road."

So important. In fact, anytime I am turning I take center lane. I made a few mistakes getting on the left side of the lane making a left turn on a 55mph road near I live, never dreaming they would sail right by me at full speed, but they do. So for my safety, I am always sure to hog the whole lane at all times making a turn. Some people have no regard for your life whatsoever.


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 Post subject: General traffic safety.
PostPosted: Sun Jul 28, 2013 5:38 pm 
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Joined: Aug 3, 2010
Motorcycle: 2007
Rebel: 250
Country: USA
State/Province: PA
City: Mt Holly Springs
I have been riding motorcycles since the early 1970s My first real motorcycle was a 1974 Honda CB360G. I now have a very good economical 2007 250 Rebel. I am not a large person, so I feel comfortable on it sitting lower, and it is light enough to pick up alone should it fall over. (I wish they still made 450's) The size would still be right but the extra power would come in handy sometimes.
As a rule I do not ride on the highway. I am always on 55 mph or less roads. I fee the bike is too slow and lightweight to be safe in high speed traffic. (Especially with all the distractions other drivers seem to think are more important than paying attention to the road!)
However it seems no matter where you ride anymore there are more and more speeders and tailgaters. Almost daily I seem to be inconveniencing someone. This is not just on my bike, but in my car too! I try to be as courteous and safe as I can while most times maintaining no more than 5 miles over the speed limit. Have the rules changed? Should I be doing 55 in a 35 mile speed zone? Should I be flying wildly over hills and around blind corners? How do you handle the constant barrage of inconsiderate dangerous drivers and keep your cool and sanity? I'm about ready to do what they do in Russia. Get a pair of dash cams and start filing law suits, accident or no accident!


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 Post subject: Re: Lane Positions
PostPosted: Mon Jul 29, 2013 8:53 am 
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Joined: Jun 27, 2008
Rebel: 250
Country: USA
State/Province: MA
City: Amherst
Pararebel, I deal with that problem differently on the bike and in the car. In the car, I just shrug. I'm going to drive in a way I consider safe, and as long as I'm at the speed limit people behind me can just cope. If I'm under the speed limit, of course, I pull over. Same goes for "right on red" intersections. The law in Massachusetts says I'm ALLOWED to turn right on red, if the intersection is clear and I can do so safely. It does not say I'm REQUIRED to do so. If I don't feel safe making the turn (for instance, when the guy in the pickup with a lift kit to my left has pulled so far into the intersection that I can't see what's coming), I don't. If people behind me honk, I just consider that they're getting a highly needed lesson in patience.

On the bike, I'm a little more cautious. It only takes one inattentive tailgater to splatter me across the road, so I do my best to avoid them. If there's a car in front of me, I'll match speed with it; that frequently gets the tailgaters off my tail at least somewhat. Sometimes that means I'm running the speed limit or lower. Sometimes (I'm looking at you, I-90) that means 15-20 miles over the limit. I try not to ride on the Mass Pike. If there's no one in front of me and I'm driving as fast as I'm comfortable, I'll pull over to let people pass if they're clearly impatient. It means I take longer to get where I'm doing, but it reduces the number of times people try to pass me in a place where it's not safe.


That said, I've considered getting a set of dash cams in self defense. If someone causes an accident, I want to be the one with footage of what happened in self defense. When I was about 18, a speeding driver blew through a red light and trashed my car. Since she was 8 months pregnant and adult and I was a teenager, I was the one who was cited for improper care in turning. If it happens again, I want video proof that I was not in the wrong. Everyone was fine, but my insurance rates went up dramatically for a long time.

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 Post subject: Re: Lane Positions
PostPosted: Mon Jul 29, 2013 3:56 pm 
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Joined: Feb 23, 2009
Motorcycle: Rebel 250 plus a few others
Rebel: 250
Country: Canada
State/Province: NB
City: Fredericton
I find it more comfortable to ride/drive at the speed of traffic rather than significantly above or below. If the interstate is moving at 10-15 over the posted limit, you are much less likely to get into an accident moving at that speed than you are by sticking doggedly to the speed limit, while traffic lines up behind or jams up beside you. You are much safer moving at the speed that everyone else has decided is appropriate for the conditions. You are also not likely to get ticketed as part of the herd. There will still be the jackrabbits passing everyone to draw the attention of the authorities.

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2004 Honda Rebel 250
2003 BMW K1200GT
2004 BMW R1200GS
1996 Ducati 900SS
1973 Norton 850 Interstate


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 Post subject: Re: Lane Positions
PostPosted: Mon Jul 29, 2013 6:59 pm 
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Joined: Aug 3, 2010
Motorcycle: 2007
Rebel: 250
Country: USA
State/Province: PA
City: Mt Holly Springs
Thanks for your responses, Maybe I will be able to be a little less ticked off in the future. I still want to find out what Pa. laws are on dash cams. Thanks again!


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 Post subject: Re: Lane Positions
PostPosted: Wed Jul 31, 2013 5:11 am 
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Joined: Aug 9, 2012
Motorcycle: 2008 FLHRC Road King Classic
Rebel: 250
Country: united States
State/Province: In
City: Peru
As a retired Trucker, I can tell you the safest speed is at the flow of traffic. If traffic is going over the speed limit and your trying to do the speed limit your hindering traffic and making yourself an object that is blocking traffic. Split speed limits make truckers obstacles that traffic has to overcome and patience is always in short supply.

_________________
1985 CMX250C Rebel "Juice" Sold
1982 GL1100 Gold Wing - Traded for an F250 pick up
2009 VN900C "Sunni"


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