Motorcycle riding etiquette: What you may not know about the unwritten rules

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There’s a lot of things you learn while you’re preparing to get your motorcycle license. You can prepare yourself to be a safe and defensive rider by taking the tests.

However, there are a few things you may not have learned when preparing to ride that isn’t taught by instructors. A motorcycle puts you in a unique community. It is important to know how to properly ride a motorcycle so you are more comfortable on the roads and show respect for the other riders.

Wave at other riders

It’s possible that you have noticed that motorcycle riders wave at each other when they pass one another on the roads. Some assume it’s because they know each other or have some sort of connection. It’s actually an unwritten law that motorcycle riders wave to each other when they pass each other on the road in the right conditions whether they know each other or not.

You automatically become a member of the motorcycle community by riding a motorcycle. Respect and cooperation between fellow riders is the essence of the wave. It’s more of a “I respect you and your ride” Instead of a “hello.”

There are a lot of different types of waves motorcyclists can do depending on the motorcycle they’re riding and/or what the other motorcyclist is riding. The most common one is the lower left hand wave. Simply extend your left hand and point your palm towards the rider by making a low, extended gesture.

Don’t Assume Lane Sharing Is Okay

You may also have noticed that motorcyclists sometimes do what is known as “Motorcyclists” “lane sharing.” Lane sharing refers to when two motorcyclists are almost side-by-side on the same road. This is often done by a group of motorcyclists who share fewer lane spaces.

As proper riding etiquette, if there is a motorcyclist in front of you that you don’t know and is riding close to one side of the lane, don’t assume you can share the lane with them and ride side-by-side with them. This is especially true if you don’t know the motorcyclist. That’s just awkward.

Lane sharing isn’t legal in some place anyway, so before you even begin to think about lane sharing with anyone make sure you know the laws of such an action according to where you live.

Help other riders in distress

It’s no fun when you are having mechanical issues in whatever vehicle you’re driving and have to pull over on the side of the road. Not only are you stuck with a non-functioning machine, but it’s also stressful having to stand by cars that are whizzing past you.

It’s an unwritten rule that if you see a motorcyclist broken down on the side of the road, you also pull over and help them out if possible. Even if you don’t have any mechanical skills, you can still offer to let them use your cell phone or go get some gas for them. They will appreciate your help more if they have a shared experience riding a motorcycle.

Of course, you can do this at your discretion. It can be a bit unpredictable who you’re helping if you’re riding by yourself at night. This is particularly true for solo female riders.

If you park your motorcycle, leave room for another bike

Parking a motorcycle in large parking lots (or any other parking lot) can prove difficult. You’re not allowed to park on the sidewalk or striped areas which only leaves you with a regular parking space. But then car drivers get mad that you’re taking up so much room. In this situation, there seems to be no way out.

It’s actually perfectly legal for two motorcycles to park in a single space. This is acceptable and appreciated by both motorcyclists as well as car drivers.

If you’re going to use a regular parking spot with your motorcycle, park a little to the side of it to let another motorcyclist park next to you. Chances are if they’re not parking on the sidewalk or striped areas, they’re a respectable rider and will respect your machine when they park. You can read my article here about how to park multiple motorcycles in one parking spot.

Don’t Tail Another Car

Now that we’ve covered riding etiquette related to other riders, let’s start talking about etiquette towards car drivers on the road with you. Safety is a major concern for motorcycle riders.

Never tail a car that’s in front of you. Tailgating occurs when you follow the vehicle in front too closely. Not only is this just straight up rude, it’s extremely dangerous especially for a motorcycle rider.

Failing to follow leads to frustrated drivers. You never know who’s going to make rash decisions when it comes to road rage. If that driver in front of you decides to slam on their brakes to be a jerk back, you don’t have much of a chance of avoiding a collision. Maintain a safe distance from others.

Get Cars Fast and Stay as Far Away As Possible

You’ll occasionally get stuck behind a car that is driving way too slow. I’ve been there many times myself on my motorcycle and it’s extremely frustrating. It’s also easy to want to “get back” They are inconsiderate and lead to poor road rage decisions.

When someone drives slowly in front, keep your cool. It is possible to want to pass them, but not in a polite manner. You should not follow them and pass them as quickly as possible. Keep your business and yourself private. Don’t try to ride slow in front of them to “show them what it feels like.” The last thing you want is a war with a car and I’m pretty sure a car would win against a motorcycle.

Keep away from cars wherever possible. It is important to assume that you are invisible to all cars around you. Therefore, you should keep a safe distance from them.

Use Blinkers and Hand Signals

Though basic driver’s education covers the fact that drivers need to be aware of motorcyclists on the road, they don’t cover it near enough. So it’s our job as the motorcyclist to make sure all the cars around us are aware we’re there and what we intend to do while we’re on the road.

Aside from just using your blinkers, also use hand signals if possible while you’re out for a ride. Sometimes the lights on motorcycles are so small that it’s hard to tell it’s even blinking. Hand signals will ensure that drivers around you know exactly what your next move is and won’t leave them guessing.

Stick to the most common hand signals drivers recognize. such signals may include a left turn (stinking your right arm straight out), a right turn (a 90 degree bend upwards with your left arm), or that you’re stopping (a 90 degree bend downwards with your left arm).

Only rev your engine at the appropriate times

It’s one of the best parts about riding a motorcycle. Revving your engine is one sound that’s commonly heard among motorcyclists and probably isn’t foreign to hear from people who don’t even ride.

But it’s important to know that there are right and wrong times to be revving your motorcycle engine. It is perfectly acceptable to rev the engine during a rally or show. Not the right time or place to rev your engine is at a stoplight, or in a neighborhood at night.

Many cities have a sound ordinance which is to be adhered to by all citizens, even motorcyclists. A revved motorbike engine can make a loud noise that could easily be heard by someone and cause them to call the police. You can also purchase a ticket. It’s proper etiquette to know when is and isn’t the right time to rev that engine.

Inform Passengers To Limit Movement

Now let’s talk about proper riding etiquette when it comes to having a passenger with you on your motorcycle. It’s a different experience to have a passenger on your motorcycle. This should be considered seriously. Here are some things you can do for your passenger to feel safe.

Before going on a ride, be sure to inform your passenger that they need to limit their movement once they’re on the bike (especially if they’re new to this). A passenger riding on a motorcycle can cause you to lose balance, especially when making turns.

Instructing them to restrict their movement will avoid frustration and conflict in the future. You may get mad at them for moving so much when in reality they didn’t know it was an issue in the first place.

Don’t Take Sharp Turns With A Passenger

There are things you may be daring to do while you’re by yourself on your motorcycle, but that doesn’t mean your passenger is comfortable with it, too.

It’s proper riding etiquette to abstain yourself from taking sharp turns with a passenger. Although you might be able to safely do it, your passenger may not and may even be scared. You should inform your passenger in advance if you have to make a sharp turn.

Don’t Do Quick Accelerations With A Passenger

Having a motorcycle with a lot of power can be incredibly tempting to use it to it’s full potential, especially when you’re trying to show it off to someone that’s riding with you. While it’s okay to have a lot of power on a motorcycle, sudden accelerations without warning can actually be really dangerous for a passenger.

There have been many occasions when men took women out on motorcycle dates, mostly with their motorcycles. The guy wanted to show off the motorcycle’s capabilities and did a quick acceleration. The unsuspecting passenger who isn’t holding on tight enough to make up for the sudden acceleration ends up falling off the back of the motorcycle.

Before doing any sort of sudden movement on your motorcycle, inform your passenger you’re about to do it so they can properly prepare themselves and hold on tighter to prevent any injury on their part.

Always Make Sure A Passenger Has A Helmet

Etiquette for motorcycle riding is all about safety. A helmet is a key part of good riding etiquette.

Having a helmet is essential when riding and it’s just as important that your passenger has a helmet as well. If there is only one helmet and you must decide who gets it, your passenger should take the decision.

Your passenger may have a helmet, but you might not. You can get in a world of mess if you go on a motorcycle ride and get in some sort of accident where your passenger gets injured because they weren’t wearing a helmet.

If you’re worried that certain passengers you may have don’t like wearing helmets, officially make it a rule that in order to ride your motorcycle a helmet has to be worn. Period. If they don’t want to wear a helmet, they don’t get to ride.

You should always keep a helmet on hand if you intend to have many friends or family members riding with you on your motorcycle. Click here for my article on the most affordable motorcycle helmets available to passengers.

Similar Questions

What does it mean for bikers to point two fingers down at each other? When you pass a motorcyclist that holds their arm out with two fingers down, it likely means they’re just giving you a friendly greeting. Others may interpret this as: “be safe” “keep both wheels on the ground.”

Why does a motorcycle rider wear leather? Leather is used to protect motorcycle riders. Leather provides better protection than regular clothing when riding a motorcycle. To protect their bodies in the event of an accident, motorcyclists use leather chaps, vests, jackets, and vests. For more information, please see my article.

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