You can ask any experienced motorcyclist what he remembers from his early days and you will hear, the shock of discovering that he was invisible. His motorcycle may have been candy-apple red, with shinning chrome from end to end, and his pipes may have been as loud as he could stand them yet when he pulled out on the road, no one saw him.
For some reason, automobile drivers are not accustomed to watching for a motorcycle. They expect to see other automobiles and trucks of all sizes. But, a motorcycle can ride be in the lane next to them for 5 miles and they will drive over them trying to make an exit and swear they never saw it.
What Can We Do?
You can be careful not to make the same mistake when you are in an automobile. You can put bumper stickers on your cars and remind people you know to watch out for motorcycles, and at the end of the day, you can accept that you are invisible when you are riding your motorcycle.
You must assume that absolutely no one on the roadway sees you. You must be proactive to protect yourself. You will remain calm, and take advantage of any open space that will form a zone of space that will allow you to maneuver.
Respect The Fields Around You
When you are riding, make it a goal to position yourself in a way that there are open fields of space around you. If there is a field in front of you, behind you, and on the left and right of you, you are in a perfect position. You have plenty of room to maneuver away from a driver who is speeding behind you while approaching a traffic light, for example. Having that perfect zone around you is rare, so always have a plan B.
Your Escape Plan
It may not be possible to gather that much room on the road, but there is always some room to secure. Do not pull too close to the car in front of you. If you are in a traffic jam or stuck behind an accident, you will need room to maneuver the needed escape. If you fail to secure that space and the traffic is bumper to bumper, you are stuck.
Worse than being stuck in traffic, you may have forgotten your very first rule. You are invisible. A car speeding up to the congested spot and not paying attention, may not be able to avoid impact with you or the car ahead. Usually, you can count on substantial damages to your vehicle. Worse, you could be seriously hurt.
Common Sense Goes A Long Way
There are driving manuals that cover almost every scenario. But, sometimes they just do not apply to the “motorcycle minority.” If you are in a situation where traffic is moving into a “bottle-neck” you should be looking for an escape plan.
Look to the left. If it is a hard median (a concrete median) with no clear path, that is not your escape. If the problem area is to the right of the lanes you may be better off waiting it out in the center lane and moving in and out as the opportunity allows you too. Finally, the right lane may be your only choice. Staying as far to the right as you can, while being careful to watch for cars that are trying to escape the traffic could be your best solution.
Always, be aware of your surroundings, always have an escape plan, ride with a strategy.
As always, stay safe, enjoy the ride, and we’ll talk again later!