So turn off your hazard lights!

This falls squarely in the “Clues” category of “News, Clues and Rumors”—as in, GET A CLUE.

Share the Lane Road Lane Splitting Sign from LaneSplittingIsLegal.comSplitting with hazards on used to be a rare sight, but we’ve been seeing this in the wilds of commute-land more frequently of late. Maybe because it’s “riding season” again and riders that keep their machines safely tucked away in clean, dry garages during California’s downright inhospitable winters are just getting their mojo back. Maybe just (dumb, for sure) luck. But it warrants a come-to-Jesus talk.

When we split lanes with our hazards on, we send the wrong message to drivers, and we do that way too much (splitting too fast, clipping mirrors, and so on) already, so please turn off your damn hazard lights.

Two options here:

1. If you suck so bad at splitting that you actually are a hazard to your fellow road users, please stop splitting lanes for now. Go practice low speed maneuvers, braking, situational awareness, and all that good stuff. When you’re confident, but more importantly, competent, you can join us in the split again.

2. If you’re just trying to increase your conspicuity, please turn off your hazard lights and ride to your local shop, where you can purchase all sort of items to help with this in a way that doesn’t say, “Hey, something is wrong.” High-vis gear (helmets, jackets, vests) is great for this very purpose, so great, in fact, that it’s called high visibility gear. Got it?

Of course, there’s also the California vehicle code, which states in section 25250-25282, “Flashing lights are prohibited on vehicles except as otherwise permitted.” Those otherwises include turn signals (duh), disabled vehicles, to warn of hazards or accidents, and a whole bunch others, including headlight modulators on bikes. What’s not included, however, is lane splitting.

We’re hesitant to throw the vehicle code out there, because as you may know, the CityBike Wrecking Crew are known to occasionally bend the rules a tiny, tiny bit. But we’re also actively engaged in trying to get the general public (you know, all those drivers) to get off our collective junk about lane splitting.

So we’re begging, nay, commanding, those riders that engage in this behavior, to stop saying, “Hey, what I’m doing right now is hazardous.”

One more time, with extra-emphatic feeling: turn off your goddamned hazard lights while splitting.

This public service message brought to you by the Angry and Jaded Moto-Commuting Old Timers Association, AKA Editor Surj.

This story originally appeared in our August 2015 issue, which you can read in all its high-res glory here.

2 Responses

  1. Leon Foonman M.D.

    I don’t use my hazards while sharing lanes, but what’s the big deal anyway? If someone wants to be seen better I don’t see the harm in it. VC or not. Commuted over Bay Bridge for 30 years on MCs, and never had contact with another vehicle, but I can see why some riders use hazard lights, look at the lack of attention by 90% of the drivers on California roads. It’s chaos.

    • Surj Gish

      We’re on the record extensively, here in this very article and about a million other places, on the value of conspicuity, whether using lights, high-vis gear, etc. It’s not about the vehicle code. As stated above, splitting with hazards on sends the wrong message to drivers, essentially saying, “Hey, what I’m doing right now is hazardous.”

      Given all the bad PR we already have around lane splitting, the last thing we need is riders doing that. Messaging matters.


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