When driving on the freeway, are your nerves ever jangled by a motorcycle that appears seemingly out of nowhere as it cuts between lanes?
As one who frequently splits lanes with his scooter in Los Angeles traffic, I'd like to apologize on behalf of most motorcycle riders. Most of us also drive cars, so we do have empathy for the surprise element of our um, driving styles. I try to be a gentleman when riding on the freeway, most of the time, and I will flash my brights when riding in between lanes during heavy traffic.
When my scooter was new to me, four years ago, someone had asked me why motorcycle riders swerve back and forth when splitting lanes. I didn't have the best answers prepared for her then, and it's something that I have pondered over since.
We swerve because:
1. It is not good for our bike's tires to "drive by Braille," just as it isn't when driving a car. As much as possible we try not to drive right on top of the dashed, dotted lines that divide the freeway lanes.
2. When splitting lanes we try to drive through the most center space available between any given two cars, without clashing rearview mirrors on either side. Cars in motion on the freeway are not always perfectly and conveniently lined up right behind each other. Many drivers hug the dashed and dotted lines with their vehicles, right in the precise spot that we're trying to pass through.
3. Sometimes there is refuse on the road that we are trying to avoid. It can be anything, from something as harmless as a squashed paper bag, to a twisted, dented hubcap that may or may not puncture your tire if you drive over it. Usually, motorcycle riders can't tell what refuse is until they are two seconds from reaching it, so it's better not to risk running over anything in case it's sharp, jagged, and pointy.
4. Many vehicles today are just too damn big, and W I D E, like the Hummer. Sometimes we have to swerve in order to manuever through and adjust to the different widths of vehicles, including city buses, utility trucks, and delivery trucks for companies such as FedEx and UPS.
To any driver out there who has seen a motorcycle out on the road, I thank you for not hitting me, for not crashing into me, and for not opening up your door unexpectedly right before I try to squeeze through between your car and another's.
I thank you for inching over to one side when you do see a motorcycle approaching from behind.
I thank you for every time you use your turn signal, and especially for the times that you actually turn your head to look over your shoulder before switching lanes.
I thank you for not shooting me from your open car window, even when we piss you off.
I thank you for driving safely and sanely, even in the most frustrating traffic, so that I can once again, arrive at my destination in one piece.