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Good for the Goose

I was going down the road approaching an SUV waiting to turn left into a local gas station. A motorcycle coming up behind the stopped van decided not to wait and maneuvered his bike around the right side of the larger vehicle. Crossing the white fog line on the two lane roadway, he snuck by on the narrow foot-wide shoulder without falling into the deep ditch and continued on his way. So what's the problem?

Not only was this maneuver unsafe, it was also illegal. Yellow lines separate traffic going in opposite directions and white lines separate vehicles going in the same direction. Crossing a solid line marking lane boundaries to continue down the road is not legal regardless of the line color.

More importantly, let's look at the risk to which this rider exposed himself in order to save a few seconds of time. Riding on a narrow strip of asphalt next to a deep ditch is one issue that could have resulted in an early end to his ride. This rider was obviously expecting the driver to stay stopped until an opening in traffic allowed him to make his turn.

But what if the driver had given up waiting to turn and decided to get gas or coffee later or at the next station? It is highly likely that the driver was focused on the oncoming vehicles and did not even know the rider had snuck alongside while trying to pass him on the right. If he suddenly turned off his signal and started down the road, where would the rider go?

Let's look at this action in a slightly different context. Bikers don't like it when other drivers share their lane on the road, whether they're stopped or moving. Just because a motorcycle doesn't fill a whole lane doesn't mean that other vehicles can occupy the unused portion, right?

Supposing this rider was stopped at a stop sign planning to continue straight ahead. Let's say that another car, planning to turn right, squeezes into his lane by pulling alongside of him. How quickly do you think the rider would tell that driver how much he appreciates the driver's action?

Thinking back to the original situation I observed, how do you think the rider would feel if the roles were reversed? What if the rider were stopped waiting to make a left turn and the SUV tried to sneak by the motorcycle on the edge of the road? Do you think that the rider would seriously consider nominating him for the Shares the Road with Motorcycles Driver of the Year Award.

With its narrow shoulder, deep ditches and lack of sidewalks, the suburban road on which this event took place had a rural feel to it. Yet it was still a two lane street. It went both ways. And so it should for our interaction with others on the road.

We can't complain about what other drivers do if we're doing the same thing. We need to treat them with the same respect we expect from them. After all, what's good for the goose is good for the gander.

Ride Smart! Ride Safe!