RoadRUNNER Zen Motorcyclist

The Road Often Traveled: Tips & Tricks – Part 2

May 16, 2012 View Comments by

Back in March, I wrote a post called Tips & Tricks Part 1. Here is another installment with a few observations that occurred to me today while commuting 40 miles in the rain.

Wait for it: When pulling out from red lights, I try to wait a heartbeat after the light turns green. Frequently, and especially on the morning commute, people run red lights. Waiting a second or two puts me in better position for a car running a light to pass me by before I pull into an intersection. Also, on four lane roads it allows me to use the car next to me as a block for any car that may approach from that side.

Swerving around traffic: This one is a question of vision. As the saying goes, “Never put your bike anyplace your brain hadn’t been two seconds earlier.” Swerving around a turning car means you’re doing just that. I’ve learned its better to slow up, let the car in front make his turn without altering my course, then accelerate when the space is clear and I can see what’s ahead. It also stands to reason that the bigger the vehicle I am following, the more it can obscure. You’ve heard the term “nature abhors a vacuum.” Well, the same can be said of motorists at rush hour.

Tapping the brakes: There’s a point on my commute where an intersecting road is hidden around a sweeping curve. It’s impossible to see if someone may be pulling out into my lane until I am midway through the turn and very close to the intersection. The speed limit is 45 in that section, so as I approach the turn I tap the brake lever to at least try to get the attention of any car behind me. It’s another example of how commuting allows you to learn the route and its hidden dangers, which is an excellent training aid for touring.

Accepting wave outs: I’m always cautious when another motorist gives me the “go ahead” wave. The most important consideration is whether or not you have clear vision ahead and to both sides. I’ll politely decline a wave-out and wait if I can’t see well enough and believe it’s possible I may be surprised. Another consideration is that it may be possible other motorists failed to see someone has waved you on and may try and fill the vacant space at the same time you do.

Watch the rims: I try to watch the rims of cars waiting to pull into traffic to see if they are moving or not. Quite often it’s difficult to tell if a car is beginning to pull out by looking at the car or the driver. Most rims are light colored and have holes in them that create contrast. If I glance at the rims, it’s much easier to detect movement and may give you a bit of extra time to react.

I’ll post more as they occur to me. What are some other tips we can all use to make us safer on the road?

Tags: , Categories: Zen Motorcyclist

About the author

I have been motorcycle commuting since 1998. I created Zen Motorcyclist (formerly Commuting Motorcyclist) in 2011 and work as a motojournalist, software developer, CAD designer and IT/CAD manager in the Surveying and Civil Engineering field.