Rider Safety: The Dynamic Nature of Lane Positioning

Nov 29, 2014 View Comments by

Rider Safety: The Dynamic Nature of Lane PositioningOptimum lane positioning is a vital safety consideration for all motorcyclists to recognize and practice. In the second installment of the rider skills information gleaned from TEAM Arizona’s seminars at the Progressive International Motorcycle Show in Phoenix, we will look at key components of this concept.

Rider Coach Bill Seltzer started his seminar by defining some terms that are instrumental in discussing and understanding motorcycle lane positioning.

Rider Safety: The Dynamic Nature of Lane PositioningDynamic Positioning:
A motorcyclist’s strategy for roadway positioning for maximum time and space is never ending.  There is no one static “perfect” lane position; it changes constantly to meet the demands of the situation presented.

Positions One, Two, and Three:
There are an infinite number of positions available on the roadway in a single lane; however, TEAM Arizona’s instructors specify position one as the left wheel rut, position two as the middle of the lane, and position three as the right wheel rut.

Protecting a Lane:
This is the act of securing a position within a lane that discourages motorists (especially from behind) from entering a motorcyclist’s sphere of influence, which would reduce the rider’s safety margin.

After discussing the key vocabulary of the concept, Seltzer went on to discuss lane positioning considerations in various real-world situations. This information reinforced the “dynamic” nature of lane positioning.

Seltzer emphasized what most of the audience already knew—intersections are the most dangerous zones for motorcyclists. Riders need to be aware that lane position two is usually a poor choice due to the typical build up of oil and other vehicle chemicals. Lane position three can have the adverse effect of encouraging other motorists to encroach on the motorcyclist’s “sphere of influence.” This leaves lane position one as a desirable position in many (but not all) intersection situations. One intersection fact is key for a rider to remember: 42-percent of two-vehicle fatal motorcycle crashes involve a vehicle turning left while the motorcycle was going straight, passing, or overtaking the vehicle. Vigilance is the key!

The Open Road:
Being visible is a primary concern in open road and high-traffic situations. Riding in a lane position that is susceptible to being locked in a motorist’s blind spot should be actively avoided. Additionally, allowing heavy trucks and erratic drivers anywhere near the rider’s sphere of influence should be avoided like the plague. The determination on whether to ride in the inside or outside lane is another dynamic consideration in multi-lane situations, and is primarily dictated by other traffic.

Mountain Roads:
We riders love them. However, mountain roads present several lane positioning conundrums. Lane position one is vulnerable to the dangers of yellow-line-crossers. Lane position three is often riddled with rocks and road debris. Some variation of position two is often advantageous, but as with any situation, lane positioning must be dynamic.

In the end, Seltzer made it clear that there is no magical lane positioning rule. However, rider awareness and the capacity to S.E.E. (Search, Evaluate, Execute) is vital to optimum lane positioning. Education and awareness go a long way in a rider’s ability to select the best positioning in the dynamic nature of the road.

By Tim Kessel



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