A motorcycle rider should always be aware of the surrounding environment. Why?
I will tell you right now why. You ride in the streets, you look for the cars in front of you and the cars in front of the cars which are in front of you and if possible the cars after that and so on. You look behind you through the mirrors. You watch for the kids trying to cross the road, and at the same time for the cars entering your lane cutting you off or the driver in front you who’s turning but he didn’t show it. Traffic lights ahead and you lane split. Watch for pedestrians who might try to cross the road by walking through the cars, car doors, and other motorcyclists who lane split.
If you are new to this you will probably feel that your world is collapsing and everyone is turning their machines against you. Relax….take a deep breath (but don’t close your eyes yet). Everything will be fine….We are here to help with a few tricks and tips on how to stay alive and ride safe:
Check the mirrors of the drivers. Body language is a very strong thing in humans. Their turning heads and sometimes hand gestures will very much help you to predict drivers’ direction.
If you have removed your mirrors to make the bike look prettier, please go and put them back on. Your mirrors are very helpful but don’t put all your faith on them. However with proper adjustments they will very much help you gain control of what is going on behind you. For example if you are riding in traffic adjust your mirrors quickly so you can have a proper view. While riding in traffic, it is very important to be able to see where the blind spot is.
Off ramps. Simple. Just don’t get in the middle between a car and an off ramp. I believe that no further explanation is needed.
Always have contact with your brakes. Keep a finger or two on your brakes as well as your right toe. In this way you will always be ready to immediately brake.
Stay visible, even from a distance. Keep your lights on day and night and wear Hi-Viz gear.
Have as much control of your bike as possible. When in traffic ride with a gear lower than usual. In this way you maintain full control of your bike while at the same time you can easily leap forward or brake depending on the situation.
Learn how to stop in traffic. When in traffic jam stay on the left or right of the front car. Then immediately check your mirrors (it happens more than you think it does!). Being a sandwich between two cars is not the most pleasant thing. Put the first gear and be ready to start. As soon as you start riding check your mirrors again.
Learn to scan…everything. Scan the entire environment around while maintaining full control of your bike. Become aware of sounds, peoples’ body language, driving mentality, cars’ front wheels etc.
Feel the road surface. There are good roads, bad roads, and normal roads. Feel the changes of these roads. Keep your eyes open for holes, leaked fuel, spilled oil, gravel or sand. Use your smell, it will help understand that there is leaked fuel before it’s too late.
Keep your maneuverability. Motorcycle do fall down but it doesn’t mean that in every instance you have to brake. It can sometimes be a dangerous practice especially if you don’t have an escape route. Become maneuverable but don’t overdo it. Sometimes landing in the field next to you is much better than on back wind shield of a car.
Gear up. Using protection can save you from so much trouble. Even in warm weather is better to sweat than to pain.
That’s all folks. Ride safe…always. The list is not exhausted. Feel free to add your views, experiences and suggestions on the subject.
With strength and honor,