THROTTLE THERAPY: Lane position, not a rule but an active strategy

Actively choosing your lane position is an important conscious thought for any motorcyclist.

This image illustrates how choosing the wrong lane position invites other vehicles to share your lane.

Recently, I had the distinct displeasure of travelling behind a slow-rider who was also somewhat confused on the meaning of “dominant” when it comes to lane positioning.

Although on a screamin’ muscle machine, this rider hovered below the speed limit and generally clung to the right side of the lane.

He was an accident waiting to happen.

Which brings me to reminding riders what dominant lane position means.

Dominant means always left


There is a prevailing belief held by some that dominant means riding on the left-portion of any lane. That is wrong. It is as wrong as this right-clinging rider.

Dominant means riding near the line


There’s a very aggressive belief held by others that dominant means riding as close to — and even on top of — the yellow lines that separate you from on-coming traffic. That is also wrong. Horribly, horribly wrong.

Riders who have moved too far left and are sitting more-or-less on the yellow lines are in a greater danger for a head-on collision AND run the risk of a vehicle behind attempting to pass them on the right, via the shoulder of the road.

Dominant means forcing  other vehicles to respect your ownership of the lane

Ding ding ding. Right.

The proper definition of dominant lane position is the lane position that best deters another vehicles from attempting to share your lane.

In a single lane, the dominant position would be slightly to the left of the centre of the lane (1). A typical vehicle would not be able to pass you on the right. And in order for it to pass you on the left, they would have to move completely into the other lane.

In multi-lane traffic, when riding in the far left lane, the dominant position is on the right side of that lane (2).

In three-lane traffic when you are in the middle lane, the dominant position is in the middle of that lane (3). Or slightly to the right. Or slightly to the left. It all depends what is happening around you.

In choosing your lane position, the lane is not divided into equal thirds. Slightly to the left (1) and slightly to the right (3) are enough to assert your right to the entire lane without putting you into the path of danger.

Dominant riding means constantly thinking about where you are and who is around you. And staying safe. And leaving stupid at home.