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Erratic Rivian R1T Driver vs Lane-Splitting Biker: Who’s in the Wrong?

A biker's helmet cam has riders and Rivian owners at each other's throats. But take a closer look, and you'll find things get even messier.
Helmet camera footage from a Kawasaki motorcycle rider as they try to distance themselves from an aggressively driving grey Rivian R1T
@camriffs_ on Instagram

A video of a Rivian R1T driver cutting off a motorcyclist is circulating social media, and the internet is taking sides. Like most viral rage bait though, the picture becomes fuzzier when you take a closer look, and find that unsafe decisions were made by both parties.

The video appears to originate from Instagram user @camriffs_, who captured it while riding their Kawasaki Ninja ZX6R in what appears to be California. They approach a traffic light while splitting lanes, coming up to an Acura SUV towing a boat and a Rivian R1T. The electric truck visibly creeps into the lane divider while the light’s still red, making the gap too narrow for the biker to safely pass. This squeezes them in alongside the trailer, which comes too close for comfort as the Acura pulls away when the light turns green.

The rider waits until there’s a safe gap to pass before pulling ahead of the Acura, and accelerating to (but not past) an indicated 45 mph—likely the speed limit on the five-lane stroad. In response, the Rivian driver boots the throttle before slamming on the brakes before the next red light, drawing even with the biker, who had slowed back down to 25 mph or below. The rider opens the throttle to escape, and the Rivian attempts to keep pace, but the bike outruns it at over 70 mph before splitting two cars up the road, putting a solid obstacle between themselves and the truck driver.

Let’s take a step back and look at the video from a legal perspective, and analyze what reasons everyone had for what they did in the video. First off, all the license plates visible in the video read California: Lane splitting is legal there. Meanwhile, deliberately blocking lane splitters isn’t according to the California Highway Patrol.

However, despite the rider’s Instagram captions accusing the Rivian driver of “purposely cutting in to not let me pass,” it doesn’t really look like that’s what actually happened. The light was already green by the time the motorcycle was about a car length behind the Rivian and there was a bicycle to their right. The rider’s interpretation of an intentional, malicious cut-off very well may have been the Rivian driver simply moving over in their lane to give the cyclist space. Also, we’ve all seen people creep forward at red lights when they expect them to go green. It’s possible they closed the door on the biker by accident.

But their behavior after the bike draws alongside is harder to excuse. The bike clearly accelerated to and held a reasonable speed, the Rivian driver didn’t. What’s more, they booted it again when the biker attempted to escape the situation. Whether it was road rage, trying to race, or just not looking at their speedometer, there just isn’t an excuse for their driving.

2022 Rivian R1T in Colorado
2022 Rivian R1T in Colorado. James Gilboy

On the biker’s side of things, they clearly had a reason to get away from the 7,000-pound truck. Breaking the speed limit to do so—while not legal—is at least understandable, though there’s no defending breaking 80 the way they did afterward.

In the end, the encounter was inconsequential for both parties, and the only negative outcome has been internet arguments between people who misidentify where things went wrong. It all started when the Rivian driver (for the right reasons or wrong) crowded the biker, and drove aggressively in a way that provoked a response from the biker. At the same time, the Kawasaki rider took risks that, while legal or otherwise justifiable, were still risks, not to mention characterized the Rivian driver with subtitles that don’t tell the whole truth.

But what do you think? Let us know in the comments.

Got a tip or question for the author? You can reach them here: james@thedrive.com