White Line Road Rage

A row of bikes about to go filtering

A row of bikes about to go filtering

Earlier this week I blogged about our trip to Wheels Day 2014 and, in passing, mentioned the benefits of going by motorbike which meant that we could by-pass the long traffic queue into the event.

What I omitted to mention in the article was that not everyone was happy about this.

In this country filtering on a motorcycle is not only legal, but on BikeSafe and Advanced Riding courses (both often taught by police motorcyclists) it is encouraged as part of a progressive riding style.

Filtering is where motorcyclists are able to use their manoeuvrability and limited space requirements to make progress when traffic is stationary or moving slowly in queues. It can be done between lanes of traffic on multiple carriageway roads or down the centre line on single carriageway roads. In either event, the rider needs to weigh up the advantages of making progress against the dangers of increased vulnerability. In most cases this is no contest.

With the extensive queues into Dunsfold Park for Wheels Day, filtering was obviously the thing, and our extensive convoy made our way carefully down the middle of the single track road.

The road was quite narrow, but it was not a problem: cars travelling in both directions were generally courteous and willing to pull over toward the verge to let us pass safely down the middle of the road. The legality of filtering is more dubious in areas where there were double white lines, but even here there was no danger and we were often able to filter without having to even cross the lines.

Ultimately we all arrived safely at our destination. Thanks to the joys of filtering we saved ourselves hours of queueing time, but we also helped the car drivers by reducing congestion: if all of the motorcyclists sat in the queue too we would have made it couple of miles longer and no-one wants that.

At no time did we have to inconvenience anyone on our journey, and when we arrived we parked separately to the cars, so deprived no-one of a parking space.

Whenever you filter there are always some drivers who don’t or won’t pull over to let you pass, either because they are stubborn, ignorant or oblivious. In these cases it is a simple matter to pull into a convenient gap and wait for a space so that you can get around them. Irritating, but nothing more.

On the journey to Dunsfold Park, however, one driver took this ignorance one stage further and decided that he would actually drive at the on-coming motorcyclists. He was driving a vast, four wheel drive SUV, occupied just by him and (presumably) his wife.

I first saw it when he veered dangerously toward the bike in front of me. Riders behind saw him do it several times more and one even stopped to remonstrate with the driver, only to get a mouth-full of abuse from both of the car’s occupants.

This is similar to the kind of attitude that is even more common toward cyclists, so why do car drivers behave this way?

I have some theories:

1. Having spent many tens of thousands of pounds on a vast penis extension which occupies around an acre of road, they are miffed to see people on cheaper, punier vehicles having a much easier time of it than them. Basically jealousy.

2. The rules of the road are there to be obeyed: rules are rules and no matter what, miscreants should be brought to book. These type of car drivers are unlikely to realise that filtering is legal, and even if they do they think it shouldn’t be: it’s just not right.

3. They think “these people are going to cause an accident” and decide that a lesson must be taught. Their concern for the well-being of others is laudable, but somewhat undermined by driving several tons of unwieldy metal at the pupil.

Obviously I’m biased, so would welcome the views of non-motorcyclists, but whatever your views, please try not to kill someone making your point.


About Darrel Kirby

I am what I am.
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4 Responses to White Line Road Rage

  1. Jane Moore says:

    I’m inclined to the No 1 version – jealousy and the belief that cars are inherently superior to bikes so therefore bikers should be last in the queue, regardless!

    • Darrel Kirby says:

      I think you’re probably right, maybe pity rather than annoyance is the correct response.

  2. Rob says:

    I think it’s that, by filtering, you are completely disregarding the etiquette of the queue, which can make British people apoplectic with rage (British people who only show rage when in the privacy of their own car, of course).

    As a car driver, I’m fine with you doing it as long as it’s done safely and responsibly, but as is often the case there are a more visible minority who give the rest a bad name.

    • Darrel Kirby says:

      You may have a point there Rob about etiquette – I hadn’t though of that, but so obvious now you mention it. t doesn’t matter that it’s not inconveniencing anyone and is, in fact, reducing congestion, jumping queues just isn’t British dammit!

      I also agree that motorcyclists can be their own worst enemy – it annoys and frustrates me to see people pulling wheelies down the road at bike meets, doing donuts or just screaming around 30mph limits at silly speeds. It lives down to people’s expectations and justifies the introduction of draconian measures that curb the enjoyment of the rest of us.

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