Motorcycles Need Better Safety

臺灣中華民國國語文

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2017-04-07 How dangerous are motorcycles? Licenses to drive three wheelers Campaign to conditionally legalize lane filtering and splitting by motorcycles Situations in Australia Situations in Taiwan Chaos in the United States Possible excuses Images for lane filtering and splitting Advanced stop lines Proposals to reform Important conditions to legalize lane splitting in tunnels Shoulders Bus lanes Differences of riding versus walking motorcycles and bicycles Pollution from motorcycles Badness to smoke at parking areas of motorcycles and bicycles Parking motorcycles Angle and parallel parking of motorcycles Paying to park motorcycles Sidewalk parking of motorcycles Special appendix: campaign to reform the Taiwanese right-of-way of motorcycles Special alert: South Korean motorcycle ban on expressways
© 2005--2017 Justin JIH, a Member of the American Motorcyclist Association and the expert of the National Motorists Association in the United States. This web page in American English as a part of Fair Traffic Laws does not necessarily reflect the formal opinions of these organizations nor give any formal legal advice. Please consult reliable professionals for formal legal needs.

Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

How dangerous are motorcycles?

Motorcycles were invented in 1885. Motorcycles have advantages over cars such as better fuel economy, occupation of much less space and the like. However, potential dangers of motorcycles are the biggest disadvantage. How dangerous are motorcycles? Where are the dangers from?

If motorcycles were the only vehicles on roads, they would not be too dangerous, but since roads have other larger vehicles ranging from cars to combination vehicles, motorcycles are much weaker. In crashes involving motorcycles, both motorcyclists themselves and other road users may be somewhat liable, depending on exact circumstances. Serious accidents and crashes can easily kill motorcyclists.

Motorcyclists may be at fault when they are unlicensed, improperly licensed, or untrained, or act so dangerously, such as drunk driving, wearing dark clothing so they are not well visible, failing to anticipate others, smoking or carrying lighted cigarettes, and the like.

Others may be at fault if they are not well skilled or if they fail to realize existence of motorcycles. Aggressive drivers who just consider motorcycles dangerous are worse enemies of motorcyclists. They are unsafe drivers. So many dangers are from other road users. Any passengers who throw something out of other vehicles without regard to passing motorcyclists are bad people.

Motorcycles are more vulnerable to bad weather than cars are. Strong wind can throw motorcycles off balance. When crossing large bodies of water, tunnels protect motorcycles from strong wind, but bridges without covers can be bad for motorcycles during strong wind. The thunder, rain, fog, snow and other bad weather may put motorcycles in disadvantage.

Many accidents and crashes involving motorcycles should be preventable. Motorcyclists should wear easily visible clothes and turn headlights and taillights on at all times to be more visible. Turning lights on at all times attracts others' attention to motorcycles. Even in daytime, motorcycles without lights on might appear to be shadows only. Motorcycles sold in the United States since 1978 have lights on when they are operated. Defensive driving is very important to survive in the traffic. Better traffic safety education is the key to make motorcycles much safer. Hand signals should be minimized to avoid falling.

Licenses to drive three wheelers

California, USA already allows driving three-wheel motorcycle with its Class C license for cars. Other places should also consider it. Still requiring licensed four-wheeler drivers to take motorcycle written tests, but waiving road tests on three-wheel motorcycle to enable driving three-wheelers helps motor vehicle offices simpify the procedures. The economy may therefore be boosted with increased sales of three wheelers and more tax revenues.

Campaign to conditionally legalize lane filtering and splitting by motorcycles

Proper lane filtering, sharing and splitting by motorcycles reduce traffic congestion. As motorcycles are more maneuverable than cars, lane filtering by motorcyclists in a reasonable and prudent way should be legal. Squeezing between other traffic too fast or too closely can be dangerous if others suddenly change direction, open doors, or the like. Very slow lane filtering ≤ 7 km/h is much safer when other traffic is already stopped.

Situations in Australia

Australia does not consider lane filtering and splitting legal for motorcycles, but New South Wales, Queensland, Australian Capital Territory, and Victoria allow lane filtering in various ways.

Situations in Taiwan

In Taiwan, driving a motor vehicle next to another one in one single lane is administratively fined 600 to 1800 New Taiwan dollars, thus making lane splitting by motorcycles not so legal. Since 1 November 2007, motorcycles with engine displacements of at least 550 cm3 are allowed on most Taiwanese expressways, but overtaking another vehicle in the same lane is banned under the flat fine of 3000 New Taiwan dollars. Both penalties fail to consider the different potential danger from different speeds when overtaking another vehicle in the same lane, so they are unfair.

Based on Judicial Yuan Interpretation Number 641, these flat penalties should be unconstitutional.

However, many administrative courts have ruled that motorcycles overtaking stopped vehicles would not be considered overtaking. This would be the judiciary balancing the legislation and adminstration to conditionally legalize lane filtering.

Chaos in the United States

Only California formally allows motorcyclists to lane filter and split. Even the Federal Government acknowledges at https://one.nhtsa.gov/people/injury/pedbimot/motorcycle/00-NHT-212-motorcycle/motorcycle51.html that:

"traveling between lanes of stopped or slow-moving cars (i.e., lane splitting) on multiple-lane roads (such as interstate highways) slightly reduces crash frequency compared with staying within the lane and moving with other traffic"

and at http://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/freewaymgmt/faq.htm#faq15 that:

"it is safer to keep two-wheeled vehicles moving than to have them travel in start-and-stop traffic conditions".

All American motorcyclists should print out and carry both American Governmental web pages mentioned above. The American Motorcyclist Association, Ride To Work Incorporated, and New York Motorcycle & Scooter Task Force in the United States support lane splitting in different ways. The police focusing on summoning but not helping motorcyclists may violate the 4th Amendment to the United States Constitution. States prohibiting lane splitting without differentiating how fast everyone is going likely violate the 5th, 8th, 9th Amendments (parts of the Bill of Rights) and Section 1 of the 14th Amendment (Equal Protection Clause) to the United States Constitution.

Outside California, try to avoid being stopped by the police by not going too fast for conditions. If still stopped for very slow lane filtering with very short stopping distance, like lane filtering under 7 km/h (2 m/s or 4 miles per hour) past stopped vehicles, claim the necessity defense that being rear-ended by a car is much more dangerous than very slow lane filtering past stopped vehicles.

Possible excuses

Even if the police are not present, a few motorists purposely block lane filtering and splitting, but therefore interfering with riders with occupations as medical professionals, firefighters, lawyers, police officers, prosecutors, and judges will likely increase the badness. There are possible reasons to tell the blocking motorist why lane filtering or splitting, but please use them wisely:

"There is a broken taillight."
"There is a broken brake light."
"There is a broken turn signal."
"There is a broken license plate light."
"The license plate is obscured."
"The fuel cap is open."
"The bumper is bent (scratched)."
"The tire is under-inflated."

Images for lane filtering and splitting

The above image is from American and Taiwanese governmental edicts in the public domain. The upper left is cropped from Article 174-2 of the Regulations for Road Traffic Signs, Markings, and Signals (道路交通標誌標線號誌設置規則) to show a Taiwanese advanced stop line. Its front-view motorcycle symbol is enlarged in mid-right in centimeters.

The lower right is the Shared Lane Marking for bicyclists (bicycle sharrow) in Figure 9C-9 of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) in the USA. (One inch equals 25.4 mm.) The lower left combines the arrow in American bicycle sharrow and Taiwanese motorcycle symbol to make a motorcycle sharrow, and should be added into Chapter 3B of the MUTCD and any legal standards anywhere to allow responsible lane filtering and splitting. They should also be used on hard shoulders and bus lanes where feasible.

Advanced stop lines

Advanced stop lines for motorcycles and bicycles further facilitate responsible lane filtering, sharing, and splitting. They are usually used at intersections with traffic light signals. Advanced stop lines are already used in Japan and Taiwan.

The area between a stop line and a crosswalk may be good as advanced stop line with symbols of motorcycles and bicycles if the traffic light signals will detect these vehicles. If that area must be clear, such as due to turning large vehicles, prohibitory net lines in the upper right of the above image may show where not to stop.

To prevent motorcyclists and bicyclists from being rear-ended, toll booths, customs posts, filling stations, ferry docks, etc. should also have advanced stop lines. For example, North Ferry to and from Shelter Island, New York, USA has a specific waiting area for motorcycles and bicycles. Customs posts should use more videophones to inspect motorcyclists and bicyclists faster, and any reasonable doubts may undergo secondary inspection by customs officials on the spot. Cars and large vehicles, but not motorcycles or bicycles, usually have air conditioners and heaters.

As too many lane splitting motorcycles and bicycles may excessively delay cars and large vehicles from service, a simple rule of courtesy is to have no more than one cycle in front of a car or large vehicle, then more cycles wait between other cars and large vehicles visible by their drivers. Then cyclists wait for shorter time without excessively delaying other enclosed vehicles.

The drivers and passengers of cars and large vehicles must respect motorcyclists and bicyclists who are much more vulnerable to injuries in case of any collisions, or they do not deserve driving privilege.

Proposals to reform

Very slow lane splitting by motorcycles with short stopping distance should be conditionally legalized:

1) All drivers should exercise due care to avoid hitting not only pedestrians and bicycles but also motorcycles. Stopped drivers should look around for any approaching motorcyclists and bicyclists before moving on.

2) Everyone should exercise due care to avoid opening any door or extending any object toward outside of any vehicle if the traffic would be unreasonably interfered. Drivers should not extend their hands out without looking first. Passengers should keep their heads and hands inside the vehicles.

3) Regardless of which vehicles, all drivers and passengers should be banned from smoking and carrying lighted cigarettes.

4) Dogs should be kept away from open windows, as unfriendly dogs near open windows may threaten passing motorcyclists and bicyclists.

5) Violators of the above points without driving licenses or permits should be banned from the licenses or permits for certain time. Violators of the above points with driving licenses or permits should be retested at their expenses. When retesting, test the vision first, then the written retest. Failing one written test should allow the second attempt. If the second written test is also failed, cancel the driving licenses or permits. After passing the written retest, take the road tetest. Failing one road test should allow the second attempt. If the second road test is also failed, downgrade the driving licenses to learning permits so driving unsupervised will be banned or otherwise limited.

In order to be fair, impartial, and constitutional, the exact legality of and any penalties for lane splitting by motorcycles should depend on several factors:

1) How fast was the motorcycle when overtaking another vehicle in the same lane or between adjacent lanes, lines, or rows of traffic?

2) How fast was the fastest vehicle being overtaken?

New summonses should include both types of very important information above, including zero speed for stopped traffic, to reflect the badness of how much danger involved, or they should be dismissed. If unable to measure the speeds on the spot, the speeds should be estimated and so noted.

Important conditions to legalize lane splitting in tunnels

In order to more safely allow motorcycles to filter forward in tunnels, cars and large vehicles shall always keep at least 20 m of following distances and should try to avoid stopping next to another vehicle.

Shoulders

Many shoulders at the edges of roads forbid motorcycling. Queensland, Australia allows fully licensed motorcyclists to drive on shoulders within 30 km/h to bypass congestion on roads with the speed limit of 90 km/h or more. Other places have similar proposals. If not legislative passed, administratively issuing permits to allow motorcycling on shoulders may be more effective. Allowing online application and quickly printing the permit will be efficient. Some proposed terms and conditions include no motorcycling on the shoulder unless the traffic is slower than a set speed in the congestion, and motorcycles cannot exceed a set speed faster than the speed of the stalled traffic, which are different from Queensland, Australia.

Bus lanes

Some apparently empty bus lanes may conditionally allow motorcycling, like in British capital London. If changing signs and markings to allow motorcycles is too costly, issuing permits may be easier with the following sample terms and conditions:
  1. Only licensed motorcyclists with the age of majority (like 17 to 21 depending on places) may apply. No learner permitee or junior licensee is allowed.
  2. Motorcyclists shall yield to approaching buses and emergency vehicles from behind to avoid delaying them.
  3. Providing the vehicular license plate numbers to be used helps avoid unneeded vilations from any traffic enforcement cameras.

Differences of riding versus walking motorcycles and bicycles

Motorcycles and bicycles tend to be walkable vehicles, so differentiating riding versus walking motorcycles and bicycles is important to avoid unjust traffic violations. People afoot and walking motorcycles while dismounted should be considered pedestrians but not drivers.

Pollution from motorcycles

Properly designed and maintained motorcycles produce much less air pollution than cars in traffic congestion. If all motorcycles should be banned somewhere just because some motorcycles are too noisy, then all cars should also be banned because some cars are too noisy.

Badness to smoke at parking areas of motorcycles and bicycles

Motorcycles and bicycles tend to cause much less or no pollution, so smoking at parking areas of motorcycles and bicycles, especially by those riding neither motorcycles nor bicycles, is discourteous even if not legally banned. Third-hand smoke is even worse than second-hand smoke.

Parking motorcycles

Motorcycles tend to occupy much less space than cars when parked.

Angle and parallel parking of motorcycles

Different places have different rules to permit, require, or prohibit angle and parallel parking of motorcycles at the road edges. Neither way is absolutely better than the other. Always check the local laws and ordinances to be sure.

Angle parking of motorcycles occupies less space at the road edge, but being knocked over is more likely, so the lengths of the motorcycles must be considered to decide which angle to park at the road edge. A motorcycle with a short length of 2 m can usually be parked at the right angle to the road edge where legal.

Parallel parking of motorcycles occupies more space at the road edge, but ever being rear-ended tend to replace being knocked over. A motorcycle with a long length of 4 m can hardly have angle parking.

Paying to park motorcycles

Requiring payment to park a motorcycle tends to be necessary at crowded places.

Pay and retain

Parking areas that require motorcyclists to pay and retain the payment receipts are easy to use by entering the numbers of the parking stalls or the motorcycle registrations at the parking meters.

Single-space meters

Single-space parking meters allowing cars may allow motorcycles depending on places. Payments may be required depending on places as well.

Pay and display

Parking areas that require drivers to pay and display the payment receipts tend to be unfriendly to motorcycles if payments are officially required. Some places asks motorcyclists to pay and take the payment receipts, so if ever summoned for failure to display, the copies of the payment receipts will dismiss the violations, but this policy is inefficient. Receipt holders can be useful, but not always against vandalism.

Section 4-08(h)(10) and (i)(3) of the New York City Traffic Rules, in New York State, USA, reads:

(ii) No person shall, in any parking space controlled by a “Muni-Meter,” park a vehicle without displaying a payment receipt in the windshield, where such requirement is indicated by posted signs.

Therefore, the New York City Department of Transportation asks motorcyclists to display the payment receipts to use Pay and Display Muni-Meters, or parking violation code 38 imposes a fine. However, Section 375 of the New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law reads:

12-a. (a) Every motor vehicle, except a motorcycle, when driven or operated upon a public highway, road or street shall be equipped with a front windshield in a fixed and more or less upright position constructed of safety glass as defined in subdivision fourteen of this section and required by subdivisions eleven and twelve hereof.

Therefore, the requirement to display a payment receipt in the windshield for a motorcycle, not required to have a windshield, should be technically invalid, as possibly violating the 5th, 8th, 9th Amendments (parts of the Bill of Rights) and Section 1 of the 14th Amendment (Equal Protection Clause) to the United States Constitution. Then New York City parking violation code 38 should not technically apply motorcycles. Considering the minimum annual salary of an administrative judge in the USA effective January 2011 to be 103900 United States dollars, reasonable and lengthy statements to fight parking violation code 38 may cost New York City more than the fines received. Always dispute parking violations in New York City the hearing may be done by mail, on the web, or in person.

The New York City Council introduced Int 0860-2012 on 15 May 2012. If passed, it would exempt motorcycles from paying parking fees at Pay and Display.

Gated parking areas

Some off-road parking areas are gated without accommodating motorcycles well. Other off-road parking areas even bar motorcycles for various reasons that should be better addressed.

Sidewalk parking of motorcycles

The legality of sidewalk parking of motorcycles varies among places. Some places prohibit it unless marked or posted as permitted. Other places always prohibit it, without regard to different badness in different situations, so relevant officials should be asked to allow marked or posted parking on specific portions of sidewalks where acceptable, based on how Germany signposts where vehicles may park on sidewalks.

Special appendix: campaign to reform the Taiwanese right-of-way of motorcycles

Most Taiwanese drive and ride motorcycles, but the Government of the Republic of China still prioritizes cars and wastes the resources.

Importing motorcycles of at least 150 cm3

In 1979, the Government of the Republic of China banned motorcycles of at least 150 cm3 from being registered to be driven in Taiwan, without banning export. Manufacturing for domestic sale and importing them were also banned in next year. After joining the World Trade Organization on 1 January 2002, motorcycles of at least 150 cm3 would be again allowed to be registered, driven, manufactured, and imported in Taiwan 6 months later since 1 July 2002. The supplementary promise said that the riding restriction of motorcycles of at least 150 cm3 in the future would normally be limited to two major north-south freeways.

Chaos

The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada reports: "Driving or riding motorcycles is dangerous and should be avoided, even by experienced motorcyclists." Some adults who cannot afford cars transport children on the platforms of scooter motorcycles, illegally and unsafely. The alternative is to use a motorcycle safety seat.

Driving tests

Until 31 May 2016 without experience needed, finishing an excessively simple U-shaped road test site with up to 30 deducted points to get at least 70 points as passed would get a driver license for ordinary motorbikes over 50 cm3 and up to 250 cm3. Too many untrained motorbikers hitting the roads would be easily vulnerable. The government would arbitrarily limit the right-of-way of motorbikes after excessively issuing driver licenses. Since 1 June 2016, the road tests is stricter and harder to hopefully reduce the dangers, and light-duty motorbikes up to 50 cm3 also requires road tests to end the earlier chaos with waived road test. Conversely, getting a driver license for heavy-duty motorcycles over 250 cm3 requires finishing at least 32 hours of training first.

Road lanes, direct left turns, and hook turns

Since former Mayor LEE Teng-hui of Taipei initiated limiting motorbiking in 1978, motorbikes would be regulated like slow vehicles, thus causing Taiwan to abuse lanes banning motorbikes and separate flows of vehicular types, without regard to Article 6 of the Administrative Procedure Act: "No differential treatment is permitted for administrative acts without a good cause." Abused traffic regulation normally limits motorbikes to the right-hand two lanes, but they are easily occupied by unlawfully stopped vehicles. The police focusing on summoning motorbikes driven in lanes banning motorbikes to fine 600 to 1800 New Taiwan dollars, but not facilitating motorbikes, may not be very legal.

Taiwan has many lanes for motorbikes only or primarily, sometimes also allowing bicycles, and slow lanes, but these lanes separated by road markings are easily occupied by unlawfully stopped vehicles, and physically separated lanes of these types may be too narrow and even have incorrectly entering cars.

As traffic drives on the right-hand side on Taiwanese roads, left turns from two-way roads require crossing oncoming traffic. Abusing lanes banning motorbikes often forces motorbikes to turn left in hook turns while banned from direct left turns. Still requiring hook turns at a T-intersection without side road on the right-hand side causes motorbikes waiting for hook turns more easily hit by straight-going vehicles. Abusing lanes banning motorbikes also results in motorbikes having to look both ways in hook turns at intersections without traffic light signals, different from direct left turns what would normally require checking oncoming vehicles only.

Motorcycles with red license plates and engine displacements of at least 550 cm3 since 1 November 2007 and motorcycles with yellow license plates and engine displacements of more than 250 cm3 and less than 550 cm3 since 1 July 2012 are allowed driving in lanes banning motorbikes and direct left turns, but the objectivity to normally drive like cars, thus banned from lanes for motorbikes only or primarily, stopping at advanced stop lines, and hook turns, has yet to be reconsidered, so exceptional signs, markings, and signals may specifically control the traffic.

Expressways

Banning motorcycles from expressways would mean requiring them to drive on more dangerous roads with surface intersections. Since 1 November 2007, motorcycles of at least 550 cm3 with red plates are allowed on most expressways. Since 1 July 2012, motorcycles of more than 250 cm3 and less than 550 cm3 with yellow plates are allowed on most expressways.

Freeways

Banning motorcycles of at least 150 cm3 from being registered to be driven in 1979 caused motorcycles and motorbikes to be fully banned from freeways, expect special police motorcycles, so too many vehicles with at least four wheels jam the freeways. The amended traffic law amended effective from 1 July 2012 would like the Ministry of Transportation and Communication to conditionally allow motorcycles of at least 550 cm3 on the freeways, but still having no open segments on the freeways tempted many motorcyclists to civil disobedience on 8 August 2016. This would be radically the governmental fault!

Parking motorcycles

Motor vehicles are legally expected to park parallel to the moving traffic, so angle parking of motorcycles is not automatically legal. On the roads, motorcycles of at least 550 cm3 (length limit of 4 m and width limit of 1.3 m) since 1 November 2007 and motorcycles of more than 250 cm3 and less than 550 cm3 since 1 July 2012 are to park in the stalls for cars (length of (5 to 6) m and width of (2 to 2.5) m), but no longer allowed to park in traditional motorbike parking stalls (length of (2 to 2.5) m and width of (1 to 1.5) m) that are usually too small.

Proposals to reform

Motorcycles with white license plates and engine displacements of more than 50 cm3 and up to 250 cm3 should be allowed driving in lanes banning motorbikes and direct left turns. Taiwanese governmental English translations should better call "motorcycles" for those of more than 50 cm3, and call "motorbikes" for less powerful ones. Avoiding transporting children on the platforms of scooter motorcycles requires quickly preparing safety seats. Banning passengers on bicycles should be relaxed to allow approved child seats and tandem bicycles. a few tandem bicycles may be folded to avoid occupying excessive space.

Driving tests

Getting relaxed right-of-way must have stricter driving tests first. Since 1 July 2008 in Florida, USA, getting driver licenses for motorcycles must join the Basic Rider Course to be trained for 17 hours. Taiwan should consider requiring similarly strict system. Those already having driver licenses for ordinary motorcycles should be encouraged to join supplementary training, based on the incentives of discounted compulsory liability insurance.

Road lanes, direct left turns, and hook turns

All kinds of motorcycles and motorbikes should be allowed in all lanes on surface roads based on vehicular speeds. Turning is normally separated based on directions, but motorcycles and motorbikes should still be allowed hook turns, so existing hook-turn areas have to be enlarged to convenience slower motorcycles and motorbikes. When approaching intersections banning direct left turns, signs in advance should be posted to require motorcycles, motorbikes and bicycles to make hook turns ahead, so all types of motorcycles and motorbikes can move right in advance to enter the hook-turn areas. Existing advanced stop lines should be enlarged to all lanes for all types of motorcycles and motorbikes.

Existing lanes for motorbikes only or primarily should be individually and objectively reconsidered how to deal with, especially paying attention to the widths of the lanes. If separated by road markings or easily removable traffic islands, these lanes should usually be changed to regular lanes or merged into the adjacent lanes to make wider lanes.

Physically separated narrow lanes for motorbikes and bicycles that cannot easily or possibly remove the physical separation may consider signs of vehicular width limits, such as the width limit of 1 meter to ban very wide motorcycles, to change to lanes for bicycles only or primarily, or simply banning cars and larger vehicles. Lanes for bicycles primarily may be able to conditionally allow motorcycles and motorbikes to be carefully and slowly driven to relieve traffic congestion, but following and overtaking vehicles must be careful. Otherwise, motorcycles and motorbikes abusing lanes for bicycles primarily may result in being changed to lanes for bicycles only and impeding careful lane filtering and splitting by motorcycles and motorbikes.

Expressways

The traffic law amended in November 2011 allows motorcycles of more than 250 cm3 on the expressways since 1 July 2012. Ordinary motorcycles should also be allowed.

Freeways

After conditionally allowing motorcycles of at least 550 cm3 on the freeways, banning and limiting other motorcycles should be gradually reduced. By gradually improving, finally allowing ordinary motorcycles on freeways is not absolutely impossible. If automated tolling per distance can be successful, properly allowing motorcycles on freeways may instead reduce traffic congestion.

Parking motorcycles

The legality of angle parking of motorcycles without parking stalls should consider whether to allow angle parking without excessive protrusion from the road edge as in New York City in New York State, USA.

Special alert: South Korean motorcycle ban on expressways

Article 63 of the Road Traffic Act (도로교통법/道路交通法) of the Republic of Korea bans two-wheeled vehicles other than emergency motor vehicles from expressways (고속도로/高速道路) despite being a member state of the World Trade Organization. Boycotting South Korean cars and tourism may pressurize South Korean Government.
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