People will often tell you to ride your motorcycle like you’re invisible. This is pretty good advice because most people don’t see you. Many of them don’t see anything except the cell phone glued to their face and whatever their peripheral vision happens to catch. A lot of people do notice you, and many of them will make a little extra space for you. Some of them will make a lot of extra space for you, and while I appreciate the thought, I’m going to have to ask you to not do that.
When I’m on my motorcycle, I want everything to go how I expect it to go. I want other drivers to do the things they usually do, and I want the road, my bike, and my gear to all do the things they’ve always done. Predictability makes traffic move. It is what allows thousands of barely involved drivers to navigate at 60 mph, inches away from each other without constant carnage.
Being too nice is unpredictable. Being too nice is when we’re at a four-way stop and it’s your turn, but you wave at me to go ahead. Or when I’m splitting lanes and you move way over into the median to give me space. I appreciate the thought, I really do, but it does a couple of things that make it unsafe.
The first is that it throws me off. It makes my brain go, “Hey that guy isn’t doing what he’s supposed to be doing, now we have to re-evaluate everything.” It also throws everyone else off. The other people at the stop sign are expecting you to go, and if you don’t, maybe they just go while looking at you and don’t notice that I’ve already started into the intersection.
When you move over too far, it may signal to other drivers that they can merge where you were, through the lane that I’m splitting. They see an opening in the faster-moving lane, flip on their turn signal and merge a nanosecond later, right into my path. It also sometimes kicks up rocks into the air, which is not great.
Sure, a little bit more room is nice, and I appreciate that you are paying attention. The safest thing to do is often to just do what you were going to do anyway. Unless what you were going to do involves your phone, then don’t do that. Even though now that seems to be the most predictable thing.