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Lane splitting to get to the front of the line at any construction stop, red light, etc seems to be acceptable for any bike in Mexico. My two questions are: 1. Is it acceptable to lane split and pass all the stopped traffic and ride to the front of a long line at one of those police road blocks you often hit travelling north towards the American Border?
2. Is it acceptable to lane split and pass all the stopped traffic and ride to the front of a long line at the at the border entrance to the US? This is typically a one to two hour line up.
For years I've ridden up front at the USA border. But be polite and cut back into line about 3 or 4 cars back from the Border entrance. The Mexicans are mostly cool and will let you right in. Some redneck gringos may not. Wave and smile.
At Mexican Military stops use your best judgement. I would not BLAST up to the front splitting lanes ... go very slow and watch the sentry. If he signals you or waves, you better get back in line. Once again, be polite with car drivers, make eye contact, smile, thumbs up and wave a thanks.
Remember, all those check points have very crude IED's set up (to stop runners or attacks) and sometimes a guy on a 50 Cal will be posted at one end of the stop in a fox hole with sand bags all round.
Be aware, all senses on high alert.
Once in a while you may get an Army officer with a Hard-On for busting Gringo balls and he may make you wait because you lane split to the front. But rare, in my experience.
In these situations I like my flip up helmet ... as everyone can see you, see your face and eyes. helps a lot, IMO.
I think it's worth mentioning that lane splitting/filtering is quite common in other parts of the world. Europeans are often surprised/amazed to find that it is illegal in most US States! If it were illegal in Europe, traffic would grind to a halt. In fact, although I took my test a long time ago, I do seem to remember that demonstrating safe 'filtering' (a more sedate manoevre than the Californian highway Kamakazi-style lane-splitting , but more akin to the situation mentioned by the OP) was a requirement in order to 'make proper progress' through the traffic!
Yep, the line up at the Mexican/US border can often be a 2 to 3 hour wait. If it's very hot (like over 35C) which it often is there, a guy on a bike suffers. So we split and get up front and cross in 15 minutes instead of 3 hours. I've done in a car so I'm well familiar that side of it too.
Kamakazi Lane Splitting? Have you ridden in California?
Granted ... we do get a few fools blasting through traffic at 75 mph when traffic is moving at 50 or 60 mph, but most take it safe and sane and follow the filtering rules.
Our lane sharing enforcement here in California has been updated/modified recently. But it's always been the call of the local police officer to determine if you're splitting in a safe manner or not. Always a "gray" area in the law, but is evolving and getting more specific in definition.
Generally you are only supposed to filter (split) only when traffic is either stopped or moving stop and go between 5mph up to 30 mph. Above that, you are supposed to get into a lane and stay there until cars slow or stop.
Also, your speed is supposed to be limited to 10 to 15 mph faster than traffic. If traffic is mostly stopped I go about 25 to 35 mph and have never been stopped ... and in fact have ridden right behind CHP motor cop several times going much faster ... no worries. Lanes open like the Red Sea when a CHP is in front of you!
But it's true, California is the ONLY state in the USA where splitting (filtering) is legal. Several US states are pushing to make it legal. They've come close in Texas and a few other states. They will get there eventually. California has ALWAYS been at least 10 years ahead of the rest of the country in terms of trends, laws and fads. That is why Mr. Honda started his company in California and all the others followed him. We Lead.
But as you mention ... filtering can be risky, requires high rider awareness and good skills. It should be taught by MSF instructors but not sure they cover it or not.
Our dozy drivers have gotten better about "seeing" motorcycles but still, so many BIG pick ups with HUGE mirrors and other large vehicles make it a risky business on a bike. Really experts only activity.
I've done it for over 30 years ... had a few close calls, taken out a couple mirrors, no crashes. In the early days many drivers figured it was illegal and would toss lit cigarettes, coffee or SPIT on passing riders. Now it's commonly known that it is, in fact, LEGAL and it's even on the written driving test. So driver politeness has improved. Many MOVE OVER when they see you coming up.
Also ... any driver who purposely pulls into a rider can potentially be charged with attempted manslaughter. So most drivers have got the message.
On some So-Cal freeways (like the 405) there are TWO car pool lanes, both with two sets of wide double yellow lines. This makes splitting much safer. And even with one car pool lane, it also has Double Double yellow lines, makes a nice buffer zone. Unfortunately you see guys zipping down the double yellows at 75 mph past stopped traffic. But they are being ticketed more often now.
I have ridden on Californian highways, yes! I found the riding style and standards ... extraordinary?! And, for one well accustomed to filtering in and out of the traffic in the UK and mainland Europe, I wimped out - not daring to get in anyone's way. You could absolutely see why Americans refer to sports bikes as crotch rockets. A lot of the riders were pr**ks, crouched down behind their screens as if on the race track (or at least how they imagined they should look on the racetrack, except that most of them just looked constipated). Everyone seemed to be doing 75mph - lane splitting on a highway with xx number of lanes and (seemingly) no lane discipline whatsoever. I've been through LA (I-10 to Santa Monica) on four trips and have seen accidents on the Interstate each time.
One half of me admires the fact that (I believe) in most states you can just buy a permit (roughly equivalent to a UK Provisional Licence) and ride any bike you like with few restrictions - and only take a test and/or do a 'safety course' if you want to venture further afield. But it's a shame that some riders - even having passed their course/test - never really learn to ride. When in the US, we tend to ride with a group of (mainly) American friends. The last time we were over, I ended up explaining use of the gears to another female rider who complained that her 750cc bike wouldn't accelerate fast enough to overtake a motorhome.
Re-reading, this post sounds like a criticism. It wasn't meant to be. We love riding in the US - it's just a different culture. Hopefully we'll be back next year.
ETA - I meant to say that there exists a fair amount of debate about the 'correct' method/etiquette for lane-splitting/filtering here - and your description is pretty much spot on - about 10-15 mph above the speed of the traffic - though most people tend to take the 'rules' with a pinch of salt and, as you say, legally, it's a bit of a grey area as to what is safe for the conditions.
Re-reading, this post sounds like a criticism. It wasn't meant to be. We love riding in the US - it's just, a different culture. Hopefully we'll be back next year.
No worries on the criticism ... I can take it ... I'm Irish. An' speaking of frickin Whacky driving ... lets talk about Ireland! The Micks run a close 2nd to drivers in India or Vietnam! But gotta love the people anyway!
Sportsbikes? Way more of them on the roads in UK, Ireland and France than USA ... where about 50% of all bikes are cruisers. Next up, ADV/Dual sport bikes. Then comes sportsbikes. In the UK .. they are still #1 ... right?
Did you notice all the cruiser guys riding in shorts and tennis shoes?
You are 100% correct about licensing in USA. Way too easy to get a bike license here. IMO, a principle reason for high fatality rates and why so many start riding, then give up. (they scare the crap out of themselves and vow never to get on another bike, ever )
Also why insurance is expensive for young riders.
I was born in Santa Monica, CA. And yes .. there are accidents on the interstates ... but relatively LOW when compared against number of vehicles and miles traveled. Very LOW in fact. Look it up.
I've seen a few accidents in UK and France as well, yet both Brit and French drivers are better (more attentive, better skills) than US drivers. (generally speaking)
But accidents happen. US riders don't get proper training and with no cc limit, get on the wrong bike as novices. Tiered licensing makes a lot of sense and in the end is BETTER for the MC industry. But law makers haven't figured that out yet ... here it's all about "Freedom" ... whatever the Fook that is!
Sounds to me like you should be riding with a more experienced crowd of riders. They ARE out there.
The girl on the right has no trouble keeping up ... and we are not loafing.
Here in Mexico we split lanes all the time.
You are pretty much expected to filter to the front. Mexico City specifically created painted boxed areas at some intersections which are to be occupied by bicycles and motorcycles. If you don't filter, people usually wonder why not. If you need to follow a rule of thumb, when you see a pizza or pharmacy rider filtering, just tuck in behind and keep your distance as their bikes are often poorly maintained. Ride like the locals within your own capabilities. Just don't go scraping your luggage on cars, especially those belonging to transit police or federales de caminos.
I was hit and miss about filtering until I got to Mexico City. After about 20 minutes, any sort of gap between anything was fair game. It was actually kind of fun, and as I continued south my habits (if anything ) of pressing forward became worse (including medians, sidewalks, where ever). I generally waited for a local rider to leave the roadway first, though.
The one place I never filtered was at checkpoints. I never saw anyone filter, and just assumed acting nice and predictable in my que was the best choice when there were people with guns.
The thing is, when you are traveling you might have panniers that make your overall width greater than what one is accustom to managing.
Hypothetically speaking, it is difficult to differentiate the space occupied by rear view mirrors of parked cars or those stuck in traffic and say the panniers of a given motorcycle coursing through traffic. The individualized and generally accepted boundaries customary assigned to such objects becomes quite easily and metaphysical dissimilar, if you know what I mean.
The take away: Filtering is good. The riding technique gets you through the molasses of traffic and on to more fun activities, but it increases the chances the art of motorcycle riding will devolve into a contact sport. And if you hear the sound of breaking glass, you might want to keep going...and not look back.
Don't ask for the origin of theses thoughts and comments, I swear its only hypothetical conjecture...
...And if you hear the sound of breaking glass, you might want to keep going...and not look back.
Would you do that elsewhere in North America?
Or does your sense of responsibility for your actions suddenly not exist because you are in Mexico?
If you can't filter correctly, don't try to learn by hitting peoples cars and then running away from damage you caused.
If you are not responsible for your own actions, stay out of foreign countries.
I cut to the front of the line everywhere in Mexico without any issues. Like was said, it's about attitude. If there's a long line of traffic, just ride courteously to the front. Pass on the left or right, whatever makes the most sense for the terrain.
When I crossed back into the USA from Mexico there was a big line of cars waiting to get into the USA. I waited thinking that it was time to get back into the USA driving mindset. Then a friendly Mexican driver said to me, just got o the front of the line. I smiled and agreed. I rode slowly up near the front, about 2 cars back from the border office. All was good.
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