Why Do Motorcycles Cut Through Traffic? How infuriating!
How dare they ride between cars and get away while everybody is stuck in this gridlock?
Please consider this, though;
Motorcyclists Got Further Reasons to Avoid Standing Still in Traffic Congestion.
A lot of it relates to heat management for both the rider and the motorcycle engine.
Why Do Motorcycles Really Cut Through Traffic?
Motorcycles riders are vulnerable and susceptible to heatstrokes while stopped. Being in movement will generate a breeze that makes a considerable difference to cool off a rider. Furthermore, unlike cars, a lot of motorcycles’ engines use an air-cooling system. This system requires to stay in motion to avoid mechanical damage from overheating.
Heat is a significant issue for motorcycle riders and their machines.
Here is the list compiling how many heat sources we riders have to deal with.
- We are sitting on top of an engine (engine = hot)
- Riders are at the mercy of the sun unlike cars who got roof
- Full face helmet don’t allow us to breathe well when stopped due to the lack of airflow
- Full protective motorcycle gear is like wearing a parka coat in the middle of summer
- We breathe all the unfiltered hot exhaust fumes of cars stuck around us
- The asphalt reflect the sun heat back at us
With these stuck-in traffic conditions, take the weather temperature and add 20 to 30 F degrees for a motorcyclist.
With 90 outside, we rider feel like a 110 – 120 F at a standstill. (43-48 Celcius)
Long Story Short on A Hot Day
Motorcycles riders live in Hell on earth when stuck in traffic.
Sweating our, you know what, between our legs is an understatement.
Meanwhile, right beside us, you have ”mister car driver” in his tank top and flip flops with the AC on max setting. He is probably sipping iced tea for a cherry on top.
And of course, that guy will get mad right away and lose his sh%@ the moment a motorcycle dares cut him off.
Yet I hope you start to understand why we bikers would like to keep going.
We want to get out of these burning hellholes as soon as possible.
That is why some of us ride between cars cutting through stopped or slow traffic.
It is what we call Lane Filtering.
The key for us riders and our bikes to stay in endurable conditions is to keep ourselves in motion.
Allowed or not, If you see a rider cutting through heavy traffic, please let it go.
You don’t know what is going on, thought a rider’s head and his body might be overheating.
A biker might need to get out of there quickly before reaching his limit.
Nobody wins if a motorcycle rider gets a stroke and drops unconscious on the side of the road.
And for the people arguing that motorcycles riders should instead ditch their bikes and get a car with AC like everybody else, here is my answer;
” You don’t think there are enough cars causing traffic already?”
Is Filtering / Cutting Through Traffic Allowed for Motorcycle?
Except for California and Utha, what is referred as lane filtering by riding between stopped cars is not allowed in North America. Yet, for most of the globe, motorcycles and moped riders are tolerated or permitted to get ahead of traffic by riding between larger stopped vehicles. It is even encouraged in some countries.
Car drivers will rage and honk at motorcycles for filtering between lanes on American soil.
Yet, In the majority for the rest of the world; It is the other way around.
You will upset car drivers if you stand immobile in a lane while riding motorized two wheels.
It is because this is wasting road space that a larger vehicle could use instead.
With the smaller motorcycles and mopeds filtering ahead rather than standing still with cars, it unclog road systems.
More optimized traffic flow means that it is also indirectly beneficial to cars drivers.
Everyone gets to where they are going more quickly with lane filtering.
It would almost double the amount of congestion.
If Allowed, Would Lane Filtering Reduce Traffic Congestion in North America?
Sadly no. The results would be insignificant.
There aren’t enough motorcycles and mopeds In USA and Canada to make a difference.
Bike only represent less than 2% of North American vehicles in circulation.
Unless Americans pick up motorcycles riding in mass, that is too few bikes for lane filtering to impact traffic jams.
Should Lane Filtering Still Be Allowed?
In logical thinking, lane filtering should be allowed.
With the planet getting hotter and hotter, sorting out the issue of rider’s heatstrokes would by itself make lane filtering worth it.
But it won’t happen.
There is much debate over security for the riders lane filtering would cause, even if we lack statistics and data to figure it out clearly.
This grey zone is why lane filtering won’t be allowed anytime soon in America.
Yet, that is only the tip of the iceberg.
There is another problem.
The ”real issue” for accepting lane filtering in the USA is car drivers’ frustration and road rage incidents.
North Americans are too entitled and hypocritical to let go of someone on a bike that isn’t stuck with the rest in traffic.
The scorched earth mentality of car drivers is too strong.
”if I’m stuck in traffic, everyone should be stuck like I am. Nobody should be allowed to go faster than me.”
Besides, we can’t ask car drivers to check their mirrors more often for bikes coming between cars now these days, ”that asking too much.”
Their plate is already full, juggling between looking at their phones and driving to have time to watch out for motorcycles.
Ego and entitlement prevent lane splitting from being allowed in North America under the disguise of the ”safety debate”.
Even in California where lane filtering is allowed, it often sparks road rage episodes that spiral out of control with cars drivers.
When I Almost Passed out Because I Wasent Allowed to Filter Trough Traffic
There was one instance in my riding career where I almost dropped like a fly due to the heat while stuck in traffic.
I was going north on Highway A40 out of Montreal with 89-91 degrees temperature.
(Yes even in Canada we have hot weather in the summer).
I didn’t expect traffic to jam up this soon at the beginning of the afternoon but it did.
What should have been 9 minutes 9 miles stretch took 2 hours.
After an hour stuck in this slow-moving burning hell with cars around me, I was starting to see stars and feeling woozy.
I Had Enough when I Reached the Bridge out Of Montreal Island.
With the bridge in sight, I made a B line to park on the shoulder with cars raging out that I cut them off of course.
I had such trouble taking off my helmet but once I took it off it felt similar to the first gulp of air you take when you held your breath underwater for too long.
Being on the bridge, the additional fresh breeze from the wind felt like a miracle.
I took off my riding jacket without caring that it dropped to the ground and I took my two remaining water bottles in my saddlebags.
The water was warm from being stored in a black leather bag but I didn’t care.
It felt divine enough by dumping the first bottle on the back of my neck and drinking the second in one strait.
A minute later I had trouble standing straight, the dizziness was back in force and he brought it buddy nausea along this time.
It felt like I had WAY too many drinks.
I think half an hour went by sitting down on the pavement with my eyes closed and my back against the concrete railing waiting for the wooziness to go away.
I heard the occasional driver yelling if I was alright, I didn’t even bother opening my eyes I just waved them off to move along.
Eventually, an officer pulled along and asked me what was going on.
I told him the truth ”taking a break from the heat and traffic”.
Do you know what could have avoided such a situation; Allowing Lane filtering for motorcycles.
Conclusion on Motorcycle Cutting Trought Traffic
Yes, Motorcycle lane filtering can be infuriating and there is still going to be the occasional punk rider that won’t follow rules.
But guess what? There are plenty of cars drivers like that too, not just motorcyclists.
Yet For most riders on a hot day, lane filtering would be quite the respite and reduce road congestion at the same time.
Why can’t we go for a middle ground?
What about allowing riders to filter on days the thermometer passes a specific number?
But yet again the idea won’t fly because you know…
Ego dictates we can’t have nice and practical things.
Anyways, if you see a rider riding between cars, please let it go.
Allowed or not, hot day or not you can’t know for sure why that rider needs to move and is cutting through traffic.
For example, there is no telling he got a message that one of his loved ones is in trouble, and he rushing to get to them.
Would you please give the benefit of the doubt? Assume peoples have a reason for stepping out of line.
Otherwise, did that rider that passed you hit your car? No? well, then that is that.
There is nothing more to it.
Please enjoy the rest of your day rather than fuming about something that barely affects you.
Drive and Ride safe.
Photo Sources in order of appearance