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Thoughts from a daily motorcycle commuter...

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by DMack_762, Apr 17, 2019.

  1. windmill

    windmill Long timer

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    In all fairness that assumption isn't too far off more often than not, there's a lot of aggressive, unskilled riders on the road. I do use "blockers" sometimes too, but exercise a bit of discretion such as closing up slowly, and dropping back to the correct following distance ASAP.
    mminob likes this.
  2. Khantahr

    Khantahr Been here awhile

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    Riding so they can see you doesn't mean you're counting on them seeing you. Same way riding like you're invisible doesn't mean you help them not see you.
    Decimus likes this.
  3. kumakahn

    kumakahn Adventurer

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    Thanks. A topic not nearly discussed enough. I ride as my main transportation when it is not icy. Rain, cold, heat, I still ride, and it’s still fun. I am teaching my son to ride now. I developed ten rules for safe riding. I will have to dig them up. Number 1 - ride like you are invisible. Number 2 - never assume anyone in a car, or especially a truck, will do the rational thing. Of course, ATGATT. There is a lot to learn. But, it is worth it. I would love to hear others’ ideas.
  4. kumakahn

    kumakahn Adventurer

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    By the way, of course we should do what we can to be visible and seen. But it is a deadly mistake to assume that a driver sees you. I have had drivers look me straight in the eyes from 30 feet away - and drive right at me like I wasn’t even there. Drivers are distracted idiots most of the time.
  5. ebolton

    ebolton Adventurer

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    I basically agree. What I was alluding to excessively vaguely is most of the time drivers are pretty predictable, which makes it easier to work around them. When they suddenly see something they aren't expecting, like a motorcycle, it can be much harder to anticipate their reactions and work around them. When surprised, humans are likely to do anything good or bad.

    The "blockers" idea floated in some of the comments above has merit, but it also has a downside. If you are visually screened by a car in front of you, somebody coming from a sidestreet might decide to dart out behind him and end up T-boning you. That almost happened to me at the beginning of this week.

    -Ed
    mminob and neanderthal like this.
  6. The_Precious_Juice

    The_Precious_Juice 2019 DL650XT Touring

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    Classic example.

    I was looking for videos on the G310GS and found this



    100% Rider error.
    Again....
    Rider should have got into the left lane far earlier, if they are in that much of a hurry. You have to assume the cage does not see you.

    Granted, there is a small chance the cager hit the rider on purpose. But when you look at how the cager was closing on the white Car in front it would seem they were passing right when the biker was in the way.
    Yes, a little MC was in the way. Usually the big cage is in the way.
  7. neanderthal

    neanderthal globeriding wannabe

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    Both are at fault, but the rider gets more of the blame. The driver is only at fault because he/ she didn't signal.
    The rider is at fault for not figuring that the car was going to try to pass the vehicle in front of it. And because if the driver looked over their shoulder, he wasn't there. Then he was.

    But yeah, classic example of a video I would watch over and over again to try and analyse the problems/ solutions.
    The_Precious_Juice likes this.
  8. Decimus

    Decimus Livin the Dream

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    Great thread. Thanks to everybody for contributing. I am a year-round Colorado commuter (except for snow/ice/threat of days.) Over my 40+ years of riding I have noticed that certain types of people tend to drive specific kinds of cars, and certain population demographics tend towards similar driving behaviors. Accordingly, I profile cars and people/drivers constantly while riding. These are solely patterns I have noticed. As with everything there are [welcome] exceptions. I am neither sexist nor racist, I merely observe the territory ahead (and behind, and to the sides) and ride accordingly.


    Least Favorite Cager Award: Dodge Ram Pick-up. The bigger the truck the bigger the @. Very prone to tailgating then passing and blasting diesel exhaust in a riders’ face. Full spectrum @ery.


    Second place for @ery is Audi. Drive like everyone else is a peasant knave existing solely to impede their Mastery of the Universe.


    The Cr@p-I’m-Stuck-Behind-A ________ Award: Honda CRV. Prius. Volvo.


    The Most Likely to Not Signal Award: Females. (Don’t shoot the messenger!)


    The Absolutely Terrifying Drivers Award: Asians. (Don’t shoot the messenger!)


    The You Give Riders A Bad Rap Award: Crotch Rocket Squids.


    Would love to hear your awards!
  9. Cameleer

    Cameleer Back to Real Life

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    This may explain why some cage drivers don’t see us...

    Turismo9999 and Decimus like this.
  10. Turismo9999

    Turismo9999 Been here awhile Supporter

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    I missed one pass,but did see the gorilla. Of course I was expecting something, so was trying to see everything. And that is how we have to ride.
    Decimus likes this.
  11. windmill

    windmill Long timer

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    That's very true. I don't believe there really is any default right, or wrong lane position. It's a dynamic that's constantly changing with conditions.
    mminob likes this.
  12. macuaig

    macuaig Back in the Saddle

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    What the video shows me most of all is the value of traffic flowing at similar speed. It’s what everyone’s expecting, and what traffic laws and recommendations are made for. As soon as somebody blows through traffic at radically different speed (faster or slower), then everything from lane position, lane changes, signaling, passing, blind spots, filtering, intuition and blame become a massively bigger problem. Toss a motorcycle into that and it’s all down to tonnage.
  13. windmill

    windmill Long timer

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    Similar is an important delineation.

    Some speed differential is beneficial so one doesn't become a visually "stationary object" when used with discretion.

    I remember someone trying to justify doing 55 mph in a 35 mph because "everybody" goes 10 mph over the limit, and motorcyclists "need" to go 10 mph faster than traffic. :hmmmmm
  14. mminob

    mminob MotoHolic

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    We have hundreds , maybe thousands ? , of Uber and Lyft drivers here in San Diego now and it has added a new dangerous element on my daily rides... yes , no turn signals or hazard lights are being used ,

    when they pick up and drop off the passengers ... However , thankfully , they have decals or stickers front and rear , and gives you a heads up or should warn you of stupid ahead :thumb

    uber_lyft_prius-1501000932816.jpg
    richard310 and Decimus like this.
  15. bwanajames

    bwanajames Moto sapien

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    Scout,

    You are too kind. My contract job is due to wrap up any day - and believe me, I will take a VERY long trip somewhere. I'm in dire need of Cycletherapy!

    FYI: The ride reports Scout is referring to can be found here:

    Continental Divide: https://advrider.com/f/threads/mexico-to-canada-on-dirt-the-continental-divide-trail.1219854/
    Alaska: https://advrider.com/f/threads/screw-the-boss-im-riding-to-alaska.1195332/

    Jim
    suprbst and scout68 like this.
  16. manxgrandprix

    manxgrandprix n00b

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    Extremely good points made by all. The no tailgating is a good idea most of the time. Certainly if one wants to follow close behind a four-wheeler, do ride in one of their tracks (I prefer the track on the driver’s side as they seem to be able to see the object to be dodged sooner). It’s good to remember this when you are riding in a country that drives on the opposite of your home country.

    One exception when I will tailgate is when entering an intersection where my direction has the right of way I will speed up to be on the bumper of the vehicle in front of me to be sure I’m not hidden from a vehicle that would turn in front of me quickly as the lead vehicle clears the intersection. If you are spaced wrong, your area could easily look like a space between the vehicle clearing the intersection and the next “big” vehicle behind you. When entering a four-lane intersection, if available I will go through the intersection with another vehicle going the same direction. I try to not be leading so the other vehicle will take the hit should it occur.

    Auxiliary lights as low as possible; front axel-height is good, are life savers. Check out Honda research on depth perception. Head lights separated vertically are extremely effective. Head lights near the ground, especially when the approaching motorcycle is observed coming over the horizon, give early background reference; the light is not floating in space. Trying to judge the distance of aircraft landing toward you at night is a good example of this phenomenon.

    A flashing brake light or better yet brake lights is very effective. There are many aftermarket quality, very bright tail light, brake light turn signal combinations. I have one on my tail trunk, helmet and across my back. I use micro stereo wires and jacks as plug ins. Requires two separate jacks for the four lights. Very simple assembly.

    I also ride with a radar detector. Not because I like to speed. I do it because separation is safety. If you keep your distance everything gets better. The radar detector reminds me to pay attention the road, the spacing and the speed limit while not having to constantly scan for law enforcement. Distance overcomes the instant stop that hurts so much. If you wear the correct gear, it’s only the quick stop that hurts. The slide slowly dissipates energy giving you time to contemplate how expensive the repair to your bike is going to be. A high-side only gives you time to reflect on why you are seeing the bottom of your bike from above. And the quick, dead stop impact, if you are still conscious, allows only “how badly am I hurt?” ATG, ATT allows me to tell you this. It soon should come as no surprise to the reader that I now wear an airbag vest.

    In 1976 my head was run over by 1967 Chevy (thank you Bell Star 90), in 2005 I high-sided on earthworms at Putnam Park track, thank you Kevlar. Later in 2005 I was pitched off a Concourse by a wicked tank-slapper, thank you Roadcrafter and in 2011 I low-sided on antifreeze, thank you Teknik: not a scratch and plenty of time to think about the $1,000 that slide cost me.

    I’ve been retired for three years. Prior to that, in Cincinnati, I commuted everyday, rain, shine, snow and fierce heat. 30-miles round trip. I averaged about 13,000 miles per year for 26-years. A few of those years I drove my car only five or six days. Everyone on this forum seems to know about heated gear so I won’t go into that with one exception. Heated visors. When I started riding heated visors were not sold commercially. Double-layer shields work up to a point but in Cincinnati it can be 17°F while still having 80 to 90% humidity. So every passive system ices up. I tried to breathe through flexible straws exiting the rear of my helmet but they froze up adding suffocation to blindness. So I made my own heated visor out of heating pad wire and scotch tape. Works pretty well. But today commercial snowmobile visors work great. The other problem, extreme-heat, I am still battling with.

    I sewed 38 feet of 3/8 inch tubing into overalls and wore them under my Roadcrafter. To this I hooked up a gallon cooler with ice and water and pumped it with a 12v RV pump. Worked great for about an hour then turned into a heat radiator. Back in the days when I worked sewing for Vetter Fairing, I took an industrial sewing thread-spool (looks like a 4.5 inch diameter funnel with a 1.5 inch in diameter, six inch shank), velcro’d it to the top of my Bell 90 and hooked it to flexible tubing which I bifurcated and sent down my back. Almost ripped my head off at speed and collected more bugs than an entomologist on meth. I am now trying to convert a welder’s shop air powered cooling vest to work on two 12volt air horn air compressors. If you see the Michelin Man explode don’t be alarmed.
  17. scout68

    scout68 Been here awhile

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    Will look forward to it. I was truly touched by many of your posts, and especially your authenticity. All you inmates reading this , do your self a treat and GO to the links bwanajames provided and read them. Really solid.

    I’m simply not in a season of life right now that’s amenable to long trips. But I can certainly dream. Part of that dreaming for me IS the commute, which makes this thread so cool to me.

    For me personally, treating my daily commuting as a form of training and prep for the longer rides (hopefully to come some decade) helps me persevere through this season, frankly. So, becoming a better commuter is tied to becoming a better traveler later.

    Ride safe
    Decimus likes this.
  18. dnrobertson

    dnrobertson Big Bike, Slow Rider

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    This is a great thread.

    Lots of good advice and even things I don't agree with make me think about my reasons for doing what I do.

    I've commuted for over 30 years, with about 90,000 miles in the last 10.

    One thing I didn't see mentioned is covering the brakes. I ride nearly my entire commute (about 20 miles) with my front brake covered with a finger. The decrease in time to hit the brake (as opposed to having my finger wrapped around the throttle) has saved me a couple of times. In heavy traffic, I'll have my foot over the rear brake as well.

    My mantra isn't so much as "Ride like you are invisible" as "Ride like the whole world is out to kill you". And yes, I include fellow motorcyclists in that.

    And I'm glad nobody has mention that old chestnut that "Loud pipes save lives".
    Decimus, scout68 and Cameleer like this.
  19. zouch

    zouch part-time wanderer

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    good discussion; even if you don't agree with everything here, making yourself think about it is likely to lead to some improvements for somebody.

    at the risk of being another guy kibitzing on a YouTube video, i'll share my observations here in the hopes that it might help someone. (that someone may even be me, as it forces me to analyze a situation and think about the risks! the benefit being much like that of the poster who mentioned the benefits of reviewing the Close Calls he'd documented, but just that we're learning from someone else's mistakes instead of those we might have made ourselves.)


    while *legally* it might be seen as the driver of the dark cars fault for snapping a lane-change without signalling (after tailgating, and then not allowing adequate following distance to the car he had just passed on the right), there are some things that the motorcyclist could/should have seen and done to avoid the situation.

    we've heard discussion of how most accidents are the result of a combination of factors; after years of riding and commuting, i find that i have what i call 'alarms' that go off in my head based on apparent risk factors. some are louder than others, but the more/louder the alarms, the more likely something Not Good is likely to happen.

    what i saw when i watched this video was:
    - dark car exhibiting erratic speed changes; alarm. (granted, the motorcyclist may not have been in the range of view of this, as he approached fairly rapidly after we saw this in the vid.) for me, this marks the driver as a 'squirrel'; erratic in speed and/or direction, and to be avoided.
    - shopping cart handle on the trunk of the dark car. another alarm. (sorry, call it a generalization or whatever else you like, but in my experience it seems that people that go in for this sort of thing often are either wishing they were driving a race car in competition or thinking that they are, and all-too-often not what a pilot would call a Safe Operator.)
    - overtaking motorcyclist passing at an arguably high speed differential, too close to what he was passing, on the right of the traffic he was passing, and putting himself into a position where he was following too closely. squid moves; multiple alarms!
    - hesitation before splitting probably caused squid to be in the worst spot; between a car and a 'hole' in traffic. any time between a car and a hole there's another alarm! cars are generally much better about avoiding bouncing off of each other than they are about avoiding motorcyclists that are in (what they think is) a hole they can slip into. the fact that the squirrel that dropped into him was tailgating before trying to 'fill the hole' through him should have been another warning to the motorcyclist; again, multiple alarms.

    i wouldn't consider Lane Position itself at the point of collision in this case to be a major factor; although it perhaps may have given him a few milliseconds more time to begin to try to avoid the collision, squid moving further to the left in the lane after his poor split would have put him further out of the range of the squirrels side-view mirror where the squirrel would have been able to see squid *if* squirrel had looked. i'd consider this more of a general Blind Spot failure (another alarm!) than general Lane Position.

    i often tell my friends as we embark on our varying risky behaviors; "Have Fun/Be Careful!"
    what i mean is:
    "have fun. minimize those contributing factors!"

  20. woofer2609

    woofer2609 Less flow, more Gnar

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    There is nothing but wrongs in that video. Why is the white van in the passing lane? Why is the maroon car passing in the slow lane? Nobody is using turn signals, and the rider was going WAY too fast for the amount of congestion.