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It is not uncommon for traffic laws to be confusing, particularly within certain states as each state has its own laws. Motorcycle rules can be particularly confusing.
Motorcyclists are known to use the bike lane when riding on roads. Whether you’re a motorcyclists who’s attempted to or you’ve seen a motorcyclists do this, you may wonder if it is legal in the first place.
Is it possible for a motorcycle to use a bike lane Most places make it illegal for motorcycles to use bike lanes. Bicyclists who ride in bike lanes are usually non-motorized, and thus are much more cautious than those riding in the traffic lanes next to them. Both bicyclists as well as motorcyclists can be injured by a motorcycle riding in a bike lane.
If you’re going to own a motorcycle, it’s important you know the rules of the road to keep you and those around you safe. As a motorcyclists myself, I’ve researched this topic and have been able to find out a lot of information about the subject.
Why motorcyclists shouldn’t use bike lanes
It’s tempting to ride a motorcycle on a bike lane. The lane looks to be the perfect size for a motorcycle and most of the time you don’t see any bicyclists on it anyway. It’s still technically the road and you would cause less traffic by getting out of everyone’s way by using the bicycle lane. So what’s wrong with that?
In actuality, using the bicycle lane with your motorcycle is not only illegal in most places, it’s also incredibly dangerous. A lot of people will argue that a motorcycle using a bicycle lane couldn’t possibly be dangerous because you’re taking yourself out of traffic and putting yourself in a less dangerous situation than you would be riding in a normal lane of traffic.
A motorcyclist riding on a bike path is not at risk of a lot of dangers. it’s dangerous for the bicyclists who could potentially be using said lane.
A bicycle lane was made for a purpose and that purpose wasn’t for motorcyclists to save time during their commute. According to NACTO (National Association of City Transportation Officials), “Bike lanes enable bicyclists to ride at their preferred speed without interference from prevailing traffic conditions and facilitate predictable behavior and movements between bicyclists and motorists.” (Emphasis added).
Bicycle lanes serve the purpose of keeping motorized heavy-duty vehicles from getting in the way of light and non-motorized bikes. Let them choose how they want to travel. When compared to a bike, motorized motorcycles are more dangerous than a bicycle. Compare the speed and difference in weight.
Bicyclists don’t have brake lights, turn signals, or other technology that a motorcycle has. The actions of bicyclists following behind motorcyclists could be unpredictable, which can increase the chance of them colliding with them.
A bicyclist can experience stress riding a motorcycle in a bicycle lane. I have many family members who are avid bicycle riders, and some of them are also motorcycle riders. On several occasions, they have complained about being almost hit by motorcyclists riding in the bike lane. It is stressful to constantly be alert for motorcyclists who might be swerving in their lane.
Motorcycles must adhere to the same traffic laws that any other motor vehicle, with some exceptions (which we will discuss later). You don’t see cars driving in bike lanes, motorcycles aren’t allowed to do that either.
Lanes Motorcyclists Can Use
Motorcyclists might be curious about legal routes that they can use to reach their destination quicker than they could in a car.
Motorcyclists need to follow the same traffic rules for motorbikes as other motor vehicles, just like I said before. Motorcyclists have very few exceptions, and they are limited in the number of lanes that can be used while riding.
Motorcyclists often wonder if it is legal to ride in a bus lane. Not all places have bus lanes and they’re more commonly seen in highly populated cities in the United States, the United Kingdom, and several other countries.
There will be signs indicating the times that buses will use the bus lane. There will be signs that show a photo of a bus along the route. “Mon – Sat 7 am – 7 pm.” This means that the bus uses this lane Monday to Saturday between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., and that no other vehicles can use it during those hours.
Other pictures may be included on occasion, such as a bike and a motorbike. Motorcyclists may use the lane if there is a motorcycle posted on the bus sign.
Motorcyclists may also use the HOV lane (also known as the “carpool lane.” This lane is restricted in terms of who can use it. Motorcyclists and cars with at least two people inside can only use it.
This is done to increase traffic flow. The rationale for letting motorcyclists go through is for the rider’s safety. They’d rather motorcyclists going through a steady lane of traffic rather than doing a constant stop and go.
Some exceptions for motorcyclists
Even if your knowledge of motorcycle riding is limited, you may still be unsure about specific laws.
Motorcyclists must follow the same rules as other motor vehicles. However, authorities recognize that motorcycles can be smaller than other vehicles and have made some exceptions. We will cover all the exceptions motorcyclists might have.
The first is called lane splitting, also known as “whitelining,” “lane filtering,” Or “stripe-riding”). Motorcyclists can split lanes to travel between stationary and slow-moving traffic. This allows them to get ahead of traffic and is safer than riding in slow moving traffic.
This is not allowed everywhere. Only two states in the U.S. have legalized lane splitting. So if you’re wanting to do this on your motorcycle, consider the state you’re in and it’s laws.
Motorcyclists also have the second greatest exception: being able to stop at a red light. Some traffic lights use sensors to change their colors according the traffic flowing in each direction. Sometimes when a motorcycle is waiting for a red light to turn green, the sensor may not pick up that they’re present and not turn green for them at all.
This is incredibly frustrating for motorcyclists because they can’t help how light and noticeable their vehicle is to traffic sensors. Numerous states have passed laws allowing motorcyclists to continue with caution past the red lights after they’ve sat at a red light for a set period of time. This is illegal in all areas and states. Please check the laws of your state to confirm.
These are the main exceptions motorcyclists can make on the roads. These two exceptions do not apply to motorcyclists.
Additional Rules For Motorcyclists
Now that’s we’ve described the rules for motorcyclists using bike lanes as well as other specific rules, some may wonder if there are extra rules for motorcycles that normal vehicles don’t have.
The only special rule or law against motorcyclists that regular car drivers don’t have is wearing a helmet. While not all places require motorcycle riders wearing helmets, some do.
Other than that, car drivers must adhere to the same rules as motorcyclists. Both motorcycle riders and car drivers must follow the same rules as motorcyclists.
Can motorcycles be parked in striped areas If not posted otherwise, motorcycles are not permitted to park in the striped areas of any lot. The areas with stripes are for accessibility and emergency vehicles or safety of parked vehicles. Click here to read an article I wrote.
Can a motorcyclist be issued a traffic or parking ticket for riding? Motorcyclists can receive a traffic or parking ticket in the same way as any other motor vehicle. Because the ticket is directed towards the person and not towards the vehicle, the fines are often the same as for a car.