You could be reading this in some small bar in Yorkshire or while you’re queuing up at the McDonald in Ampang for that Spicy Chicken McDeluxe you crave so much. Regardless of where you are, as a rider (assuming you are cos then why are you here?) you must have known about the term we call as “lane splitting”. This is basically when we are running through the traffic with our bikes in between other bigger vehicles right on top of the lines indicating a lane on our roads. Well you get what we are trying to say, it’s that thing we do to overtake the rest of the traffic when riding.
Now that we get it out of the way, is it legal to do so? Well, its not being agreed globally about the legality of such manuever; but there are no specific rulings here (unless we are mistaken) in Malaysia about lane splitting as illegal. Everyone does it and so are the man in charged (You know, police and JPJ lah). But if you’re a rider and travelling to a different country and about to ride in that different territory, please do find out if it’s legal to do so as you might be saving your money from an unnecessary fines. So it’s okay to do it here in Malaysia, but how safe is it?
According to a study by the University of California Berkeley; it showed that a rider that lane splitting will be less likely to get struck from behind and get a head or torso injury. We wish to quote that reports in full but then it will be too boring to read. Unfortunately, there are not many studies being done by our researchers here in Malaysia and if there are any; it may not be in the field that we would like to discuss on. Well anyway, based on our professional opinions; lane splitting is a major way to ride safely on the road nowadays. Why do we say that? Each year, the amount of new drivers and new cars on the road are increasing and that simultaneously increase the amount of “fools” on the road. Who are these fools? Well, we all are; as long as you’re behind the wheel of a four wheeled vehicle or more.
Now go back through time and refresh your memory back when you were there in some driving academy trying to get your riding license. Was there any sort of training given relating to lane splitting? As for our personal experience; there were none. So how these improperly trained candidates can actually learn the right technique of lane splitting? Well the answer is, we learn about it as we go; and along the way few might die in the process. As hard as that is to absorb, it is the reality here in Malaysia and we’re not sure if its not the same elsewhere. Is it really that difficult to lane-split safely? Well it’s not actually but as a human being, our moronic nature tends to take over and thus making us exposed to bigger risk of danger. Well here are some of the techniques that may be helpful to improve your lane-splitting ability:
Make sure you’re not under the average speed of other vehicles, why? Because you sir, needs to be taking over other vehicles to lane split; and if you’re not. Than get your bike to the center of the lane to say “I OWN THIS AREA” do not share it with me. Now this is a major mistakes by many riders here, as they thought it is okay to hang about a bit to left of the road and giving space to others in sharing the space. You are only inviting more danger to yourself rather than helping others. It is the LAW, that lane sharing is a big NO NO. But of course, don’t hang around the faster lane (if there any) if you’re not riding fast; come on use some logics.
Assuming you are on the move and already having a good speed; then you need to really position yourself well in between these vehicles. It is best not to lane split between two vehicles that are moving alongside each other in a constant speed. This indicates a higher risk of being squeezed in together by these two vehicles. That is why, your positioning needs to work well with your visualizing ability. Look ahead, scan and scan and scan the road you’re about to go through. Yes it seems like a lot of work but you’ll be able to do it in less than a second. (You must be fit and ready to do that, that is why it is not encouraged to ride or drive when you’re not feeling well.. but we do it anyway). Once you’re in a clear, get back to the center of the lane and own it.
This one is a bit tricky and it works together with the speed that you’re travelling. When we mention that you need a good speed to lane split, that doesn’t mean you go blasting full throttle all the way in doing so. You need to vary your speed accordingly while getting closer to the vehicle upfront and make sure your presence are easily detected. There are several ways to do this. You can crawl up safely behind a car and flash your high beams once to give them a shock to your presence and stay there for a while before making your move to either the left or right side of that vehicle. That is why being in the center of the lane is important as that is the most visibility you can give to a driver upfront when you’re behind them. Indicate your intention by using your signal to overtake will actually help for the driver upfront to acknowledge your presence. To do this on a larger vehicles that may not have the best of visibility like an eighteen wheeler truck, you just have to pass it as if you’re a car as well; that is the only safe way.
Well those three points shall be enough to help you in having a better technique to lane-splitting here or elsewhere in the world. Of course, there are no accurate way to say that this will guarantee your riding from a crash but it helps to increase your chances to survive the ride among the fools. You might noticed that we didn’t put honking as part of the technique to do a lane splitting safely and instead we encourage you to use your lights and indicators to do it. This is simply because, light travels faster than sound and you’d be amazed to how much better people respond to the shine of light rather than the sound of your honking. It helps people to preserve a much harmonious mood while on the road. All in all, accidents can happen even when you’re already doing everything right; but reducing the risk does help.