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What A Motorcyclist Wants You to Know

By Genevieve Schmitt


Genevieve Schmitt and her customized Harley-Davidson Street Glide in Paradise Valley, her favorite place to ride.

In Park County, we call the summer season “tourist” season. But it’s also called motorcycle season, and as a motorcyclist for the last 33 years, the warmer months in Montana offer some of the best two-wheeled riding anywhere in the world. Enjoying the incredible roadside scenery from the saddle of my Harley-Davidson is one reason why I moved to this area 20 years ago. I love having access to this type of scenic vistas right outside my front door.


That said, I’d like to share with you five things motorcyclists wish automobile and truck drivers knew while sharing the road. 1. “Don’t tailgate me. Believe me, I see you.” Those of us who choose to travel on two-wheels are hyper aware of our surroundings. We have to be because of all the inattentive and aggressive drivers. You think drivers are crazy with you in another car. Imagine being on a motorcycle with drivers cutting you off, swerving next to you, and tailgating from behind. Motorcycle riders feel all this aggression times ten! Please drive extra careful around us giving ample following distance when traveling behind us.


2. “If I’m riding aggressively near you, (most times) it’s because I think you don’t see me, and I’m trying to get your attention.” Short of honking my horn and gunning my throttle to sound my loud exhaust pipes (for those of us riders who have loud pipes), there’s no other way to divert your attention away from your cell phone or the conversation you’re having with your passenger then riding alongside you, closely. I’m not being a jerk; I’m trying to let you know I’m sharing the road with you, and you don’t see me. Respond with kindness and humility.


3. “Don’t look at me silly or angry when I cruise past on the white line between you and the car next to you. I have a legal right to do this to get to the front of the pack.” Lane splitting, or lane filtering as it’s officially termed, is legal in Montana and has been since October 1, 2021, when SB 9 went into effect. Lane filtering is when a motorcyclist rides between two vehicles to get ahead of those vehicles. The law says the motorcyclist cannot go faster than 20 mph when overtaking a stopped or slow-moving vehicle. As motorcyclist, the reasons I’d want to perform this maneuver is when I’m in a construction zone when cars are stopped or moving slowly. I want to move to the front because the dust and/or rocks are getting kicked up from cars and hitting me and my motorcycle. At a stop light, it helps to be at the front of the pack so when the light turns green, I can zoom ahead away from the cluster of cars because the safest place to be on a motorcycle is away from other vehicles.


4. “Smile at me when you can because I do see your face more than you think I do.” Without the added obstruction of a car window, I can see you through your car window better than you think. Most times I make the first acknowledgement by smiling, waving, or nodding my head at you, but it would be nice, occasionally, if you in your car or truck would acknowledge first. As a motorcycle rider I feel a responsibility to represent the riding community, so I better be sweet and represent well. Most motorcyclists are kindhearted folks, which leads me to my last item.


5. “By now, you do know that most motorcyclists are normal people, not angry rebels or losers like the stereotype of old would dictate.” If you met me, you’d never guess I’m a rider and that I lived the motorcycle lifestyle for the last 33 years. And I’ll do one better. I even made a career in the motorcycle industry owning an online motorcycle magazine for women, which contributed to the explosive growth in females on two-wheels. I got paid to test ride motorcycles and review riding gear. What an incredible career I made for myself. I love the riding community because most folks drawn to riding have a love of our country hence the desire to be out in it in the most raw and real way we can. Thank you for respecting us and the two-wheeled lifestyle we love.


Genevieve Schmitt is an award-winning journalist who started her career in television news, then transitioned to the entertainment, and then motorcycling industries. She can be found at GenevieveSchmitt.com.

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