The best protection you can have is space – between yourself and others. If someone makes a mistake, space gives you time to react and somewhere to go.

Distance to the side

As a motorcycle rider, you can move from one side of the lane to the other to increase your distance from other vehicles.

An experienced rider changes lane position as conditions change. Here are some of the conditions that require changes in lane position.

Oncoming and passing vehicles

Whenever you’re being passed by a vehicle, move towards the left of the road. There’s no point being nearer to the vehicle than you have to be.

A slight mistake by either of you could cause a crash.

A blue motorcycle and a red car are passing each other in opposite directions a black arrow shows the motorcycle moved from the centre of the lane to the left of the lane.

Oncoming vehicle

A red car is passing a blue motorcycle. A black arrow shows the motorcycle moved from the centre of the lane to the left of the lane.

Passing vehicle

Large vehicles passing you

A large vehicle passing you may cause gusts of air that could affect your stability and control. You have more room to adjust if you’re close to the middle of the lane.

Other vehicles at intersections

Most collisions between other vehicles and motorcycles happen at intersections.

The 2 major causes of motorcycle crashes at intersections are:

  • a vehicle making a turn across a motorcycle’s path
  • a vehicle pulling out from a side street into a motorcycle’s path.

If a car can enter your path, it’s safest to assume it will enter your path.

At intersections:

  • approach slowly – if a driver pulls out suddenly, your chances of making a quick stop or quick turn are better if you’re going slowly
  • keep your distance – change lanes if possible, or move as far away from other vehicles as road conditions and traffic allow.
A red car is waiting at an intersection. A blue motorcycle is going along the opposing road. A black arrow shows the motorcycle moving to the centre line as it approaches the red car.

Increase your distance from other vehicles at intersections

Parked vehicles

When passing parked vehicles, the main danger is vehicles making U-turns or drivers who pull out without looking.

If you see a vehicle about to pull out, approach cautiously. Be ready to slow down and, if necessary, sound your horn.

Stay in the right-hand part of the lane. This way you can also avoid problems caused by doors opening, drivers getting out of vehicles or people stepping out from between vehicles.

A blue motorcycle is about to pass a green car and a red car parked on the left. A black arrow shows the motorcycle will move to the centre line as it passes.

Keep clear of parked vehicles 

Merging vehicles

Vehicles entering a motorway from an on-ramp may have trouble seeing a motorcycle. The headlight on a motorcycle isn’t very visible at an angle.

Don’t assume that a driver on an on-ramp can see you. Change lanes or make space to let the driver in.

Vehicles alongside

Don’t ride next to other vehicles if you don’t have to. A vehicle in the next lane could move into your lane at any time without warning. Vehicles in the next lane can also block your escape if you run into danger in your own lane.

Move ahead or drop back until you find a place that’s clear on both sides. 

If you’re in a line of stopped or moving traffic, stay in line and move with the rest of the traffic.