Tips on staying alive
One of the things that motorcycles have over cars is there quick acceleration. I am of the opinion that if a rider decides to overtake another vehicle, then it should be done as quickly as possible, even if it means going over the speed limit. I have learnt from experience that taking ones time on the wrong side of the road or in the overtaking lane puts the rider in danger of moving into a cars blind spot. Don't get me wrong, I am not condoning the use of blistering speeds when overtaking ... just get it over and done with then pull back into the safety of your side of the road or the left lane.
Lane Filtering ....
Lane filtering is riding your bike between the two lanes of cars. And the golden rule when lane filtering is don't do it between moving vehicles( riding between moving cars is called lane splitting ). The authorities from time to time have either passed laws or tried to have laws passed banning the practice..... not because it's dangerous, but because it is in the very nature of governments to put laws into place to cover themselves. Unfortunately for us, laws are passed to stop us doing things .... not to allow us to do things.
The rules I use for lane filtering are these:-
1. Don't lane filter unless you know you have plenty of time to get to the front of the traffic lights before they turn green.
2. Don't lane filter at an intersection where you are making a left or right hand turn. Acceleration isn't a problem but contending with cornering problems ( damaged road surface ) mid turn could pose a concern.
3. Look at the cars at the front of the line and ask yourself "are they likely to make trouble if I filter up next to them ?". Pulling up next to a police car or cheesed off homeboys waving guns at you clearly isn't a good move.
4. Don't lane filter if there is a P-plater at the lights. ( see my section on P-platers ).
P-platers ( provisional drivers ) I think generally get a bad wrap in the media. Let's face it, a 17 year old kid is going to behave like a 17 year old whether he/she is behind the wheel or not.
I suspect though that our young drivers are becoming more and more unstuck on the roads due to a combination of their youthful carefree nature and virtually unlimited credit that allows them to purchase the sort of powerful vehicles that 30 years ago you would have only seen come out of a hotwheels box.
In my 32 years of road experience, I would have to say that P-platers are THE most unpredictable people on the road. And as such should be taken highly into consideration when calculating tactical solutions.
Wet weather ....
We all have visions of riding in the best of weather conditions on cool autumn days. Sadly though, this doesn't always happen in the real world. In wet weather you want to be visible ... very visible. Torrential rain can sometimes render you invisible to other drivers on the road. This in turn can result in them forcing you out of your lane. I find one of the best ways to stay visible is to wear a large flouro rain jacket ( the type the road workers are issued with ). These jackets are also fitted with lots of reflective tape.
A few of my wet weather tips:-
1. When it rains, treat the road as if it were ice.
2.Water and oil don't mix. When traveling up or down steep hills look for diesel spills left by trucks and buses.
3. Be aware that lane marking paint is very slippery in the wet. This obviously includes pedestrian crossings and also applies to the steel plates that the RTA road workers set down over trenches from time to time.
I will give a plug to a company in the U.S that sells reflective bike stickers.
The nature of modern cars .....
It's not the vehicle that that makes it dangerous on the road, it's the attitude of the person driving it.... well maybe there's a bit more to it than that.
Vehicles have come a long way over the years. Motorcycle manufacturers for example may not have developed many creature comforts but they have come a long way in the area of engine development. Honda for example have provided me with a Blackbird that has a top speed of around 300 kmh, and yet they can't seem to justify fitting a simple set of $100.00 heated handgrips as standard to keep my hands warm in winter.... go figure !!
Cars are a bit different.
Although cars have also come a long way in engine design ( small cars are becoming more and more powerful ) they come as standard with many creature comforts. And it's these creature comforts that have the potential in posing a problem to motorcyclists / pedestrians ... anyone in the outside world.
* Air Conditioning
* Sound Proofing
* Stereo Systems
* Recliner lounge chair style bucket sets
* Cruise Controls
* Global Positioning Systems
All distractions that put the driver of a car in their own biospheres which cut them off from what is going on around them .... and therefore a danger to motorcyclists.
The next time your riding along side a car remember that not only may he not see you, but he may not hear you either ... in fact he may be in another world altogether.
This was written by one of the guys on our forum. He works in an Emergency ward in S.A and I asked him about bike accidents ....
"The most recent one that comes to mind was some 19-20 year old bloke/idiot who had a few drinks and decided to take his mates unregistered XR250 dirtbike for a few laps around the block at 11pm. He said he tried to get a wheelie going as he went past his mates, front wheel went up higher than he was expecting so he jams the rear brake on causing the wheel to come back down hard, he loses it and gets thrown off at about 70kph, wearing shorts and t-shirt, no helmet. He's had 4 skin grafts to his arse, had to spend 6 weeks laying prone on a ward bed while other repairs where done to his back, lost 2 fingers off his right hand and a massive amount of skin off his ankle when his sneaker flew off. Luckily he didn't bang his head but he's got loads of deep scars and only 8 fingers to remind himself to respect what he's riding.
If he had a jacket, proper pants and boots on he would have gotten away with bruises and a shattered ego."
At this point in time there are no laws in NSW forcing riders to wear protective clothing apart from an approved motorcycle helmet. Having said that, a picture speaks a thousand words so I will direct you to a story written by 22 year old Brittany Morrow regarding a motorcycle accident she had. A must read for the new rider. Read her Story here.
Riding a motorcycle isn't for everyone .....
I don't recommend a person takes up riding a motorcycle if:-
* You are a very timid or passive car driver.
* You drive a car with your head in the clouds and don't pay attention to whats going on around you.
* You are the sort of driver who has to be promted by frustrated pasengers that the light is green, to change lanes or increase speed up to the speed limit.
* You lack confidence in your driving.
* You are easily intimidated on the road.
* You throw caution to the wind.
* You are overly aggressive.
* You drive a car with the idea that you will never have an accident ( And I do know people like that ).
You will notice I said "You are a very timid or passive car driver" and " You throw caution to the wind ". These are two extremes, you can just as easily cause and accident being too passive as you can being reckless.