Left-Lane Riding

Here’s why *I* will continue to ride in the left-most lane in congested traffic, and why I will not care if someone else doesn’t like it.

~~~ This began as part of a facebook conversation started by one of my favorite teachers, Richard Deardoff, from my high school experience (and as I recall I didn’t have him for a class, he was just that memorable!) about the video embedded below. I’ve updated and reworded some of what I posted as, for me, taking more time with what I’m writing means rephrasing and refining.

Colorado has the “keep right except to pass” statute on roads with speed limits at or over 65 mph (C.R.S. 42-4-1013 Passing lane – definitions – penalty).

Hubby and I abide *except* when we’re on the motorcycles in congested areas. Of course, most of the time these same areas are posted with an under 65mph speed limit so CO’s “keep right” law doesn’t even apply. Many drivers, however, don’t care about speed limits and/or think that the “keep right” law applies everywhere all the time.

Anyhoot, regardless of the law about it in any state, in congested areas we go as far left as we can as soon as we can and try to just exceed the speed of the flow of traffic so that, technically, we are always in passing mode. We do keep our eyes open for faster vehicles coming up behind us and communicate with eath other so that we can move over when possible to let them go past. Then we go right back to the left-most lane. We have no intention of being “hall monitors” and are not intentionally trying to slow them down at all. Some drivers are so impatient, however, that we don’t get the chance to let them by before they’re darting in and out of traffic across 3, or 4, or more lanes. In those cases, I consider *them* the hazards, not us. 1 or 2 more seconds of patience and we’d be out of their way, and I always have to shake my head when we catch up with those same vehicles later: they’ve stressed themselves out, endangered others, and didn’t get any farther than the rest of us.

We know that there are people who hate this left-lane behavior of motorcyclists. Believe me, we know! However, until all people see motorcycles at all times — which will never happen since people don’t even see other cars or even, amazingly, semis — we will continue to go left for our increased safety regardless of the law or what other drivers perceive to be the law. We’ll take our chances on getting a ticket, the bird, and/or dirty looks in order to decrease the risk of getting in an accident because we’re not seen.

Q. Why does being in the passing lane increase other’s awareness of a bike?

A. It doesn’t. Not. one. bit!! However, it means WE have only one lane of traffic to the side of us that we have to focus on, versus being in a middle lane and dealing with both sides, or in the right-most lane dealing with all crossing back and forth of the on/off traffic.

~~~ Now, let me add:

The very worst experience I’ve had on the motorcycle so far.

— Mind you, this beats out a **wheel falling off my trike** just after (thankfully!) we made it down a twisty mountain pass. —

One time when we were riding with friends in the Tuscon metro area in multi-lane rush-hour traffic they were leading and they were not adhering to our usual left-lane riding behavior (different riding styles for different folks and I’m certainly not knocking their style, just saying that it is not our personal preference.) Since we were following and trying to be good group riders we stayed in the lane behind them versus going into our preferred lane.

Hubby was behind them and in front of me when some idiot decided to cut between him and me to cross multiple lanes of traffic to the off-ramp, which we were passing at the time mind you. The idiot barely made it without crashing into the divider barriers at the exit and he left a lot of angry drivers in his wake. When I saw the car coming across between us I braked hard to miss the rear bumper. I didn’t even give a thought to who might have been behind me, I just reacted while fully expecting that the front of the car was going to take out my husband’s bike’s rear tire and, given the situation, likely take his life as well and I was going to witness it in every gory detail.

Happily, there was no contact with anyone or anything in this whole fiasco. I rode the rest of the way to our next stop shaking and crying and angry and thankful. I would have preferred to pull over and stop to collect myself but that was a less safe option versus just riding on (highway with small shoulders, breaking up the group, and so on) and our planned stop was only a few exits further. Hubby and our friends were blissfully unaware of the whole situation until we made it to our next stop and I blubbered all over Doug.

Never again*.

Once was more than enough because once is all it takes to have disastrous results.

We, and many others that day, were very lucky. Therefore, for me at least:

Congestion in multi-lane travel areas + being on the motorcycle ==> left-lane riding.


* Er, not the crying part. ‘Twas not the first time nor the last, I’m sure, where this hobby has pushed my limits far enough to result in tears. It was the first, and hopefully last, actual blubber incident, though. A friend’s father has a saying: “There’s no crying in motorcycling.” I say: Let the tears roll and roll on, the wind will dry them. :0)

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