The motorcycle's small size compared to a car means that the rider has more choices about where to position himself within a lane. Positioning within a lane will depend on a number of factors such as maximizing your ability to see and be seen, maintaining a safety buffer of space around yourself, avoiding road debris and slippery pavement, preventing cars from squeezing you out of your lane and positioning yourself for a turn.
These are just a few considerations that go into choosing a position within a lane. Consistently making the best positioning choice will require many hours of experience on the road under a variety of situations.
The Three Positions
A lane can be divided into three strips or positions. Position one is the leftmost strip. Position two is the middle strip and position three is the rightmost strip.
Lane position one provides the most advantages on two lane roads. It gives you better visibility of oncoming traffic. This also means that oncoming traffic can see you better and will reduce the risk of them making a left turn in front of you.
Position one also allows the car in front to readily see you in their side view mirrors. Because the driver's side in a car is on the left, you will be directly in front of the driver in the car behind you which ensures his awareness of you. Try to stay on the right side of position one in order to maintain some space between you and the oncoming traffic. Position one also prevents passing cars from sharing your lane with you as they wait for an opening to pass. Always make a left turn from position one.
In urban areas and at intersections, position two tends to have grease and oil deposits. This makes it slippery when the road surface is wet and can make braking, accelerating and hard turning treacherous. Position two makes you less visible to oncoming traffic but is advantageous when rounding blind hills and corners.
Lane position three makes you even less visible to oncoming traffic and to cars pulling in from side roads on the right. There is very little room between you and the curb or shoulder, which is a constant threat on windy days. This part of the road also tends to have more sand and gravel. Riding in this position is an open invitation for overtaking cars to share the lane with you as they attempt to pass. Use position three when making a right turn.
These tips are the basics for two lane roads. There will always be exceptions to these rules when dealing with unusual situations. This is why you should be constantly thinking about the pros and cons of your lane position choices.
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What other safety tips do you have for motorcyclists? Please share your experiences from the road in the comments section below.