Wow, a lot of my pet peeves touched upon in this thread...
First of all, the cell phone. Let me take a different tack here. Obviously, we've all seen plenty of cell phone users who were driving poorly. But I've been riding for over 25 years, and for the first 10 or 15, there was no such thing as a cell phone. Guess what? There were terrible drivers back then, too!
Here's the thing: If they were to ban the use of cell phones, would you really feel any safer out there? I know I wouldn't! And you shouldn't either, if you know what's good for you. I honestly don't think the people you see out there driving like crap with cell phones in their ears are really "good drivers gone bad" because of the phone. I think they are crappy drivers, period. If it's not the cell phone that distracts them, it's going to be something else.
The point being, when you're on a motorcycle, you can't take anything
for granted. You have to be the one paying attention to everyone around you, because sometimes you ARE the only one paying attention. Try not to focus on the cell phones. They aren't the problem, their owners are.
Okay, on the lane splitting:
It's not technically legal here in AZ. I don't know if they enforce it or not, because I rarely do it. I wish I could! But people here (and in most other places where it's not common, I would guess) get pissed
when you go by them on a bike, even when traffic is at a standstill.
I don't get the resentment. The way I see it, once you pass them, they'll never see you again, so what's the problem??? It's one less
vehicle in the traffic flow that they have to deal with, so you'd think they'd be happy. But nooooo....
I think it comes down to the classic American attitude: "I may be slow, but I'm ahead of you!"
When I'm in California, I love to be able to split lanes. It's efficient, and safe when done correctly. Of course, it's meant to be used when traffic is going extremely slow or stopped. I see some people splitting lanes on the freeway doing 90 mph when the traffic is going 75. Stupid!
As for people in cars not seeing lane-splitters, I've been on the other end of that, too. I've spent plenty of time driving vehicles in California, and when you're stuck in stop-and-go traffic, you can't be scanning your mirrors the whole time looking for lane-splitters. You're generally focused on the brake lights in front of you because the traffic repeatedly stops on a dime. When you're going so slow, or completely stopped, a lane-splitting bike can appear in a matter of seconds
, so if a bike surprises you suddenly, it's not your fault. Sorry, bikers.
Riders have to be aware of that fact. Expecting drivers to be looking for you in their side mirrors is unreasonable. Again, it's up to the rider to "scan and predict" what's going on in front of him. Drivers can help by not making sudden side to side movements without checking mirrors first, but they are going to do that sometimes, and it's up to us to pay attention to the clues.
As we all know, it doesn't matter who's right or wrong in these situations. We're going to lose either way...