Turns out there’s more to biking than leathers and looking tight
Posted on 30/05/17
After gate crashing a Bike Safe* event, we were surprised to learn that there’s a lot more to motorbiking than just looking really cool in leathers. ...
These were the most import lessons we learnt
1. Bikes are smaller than cars
'No shiz', I hear you cry, but think about it.
Because we are used to looking at cars on the road, when we see a motorbike coming, our brain can get into a weird ‘small/far away’ funk and it can be really tricky to tell what speed they’re going at. What we should do is assume the biker is closer than it looks and if in doubt just wait and let them pass.
Being smaller means bikers are much harder to see too. If you are stopped at a junction and there’s loads of stuff in your line of sight like overgrown grass, road signs, bollards, it would be really hard to spot a bike. Did you know 20 motorcyclists are killed or injured everyday at junctions?! That’s waaayyy more than we would have guessed. Keep yourself and the bikers safe by remembering to LOOK. LOOK …. & LOOK AGAIN!
2. If they come off, it’s gonna be bad
Can you believe a biker is 38 times more likely to be killed in an accident than car passengers????
Despite being kitted out in all that awesome leather, a biker is nowhere near as protected as you, even in your little run-around. The biker will almost always come off worse resulting in life changing injuries and fatalities so it’s super important to always remember that every biker is somebody’s’ fam.
3. Car doors are the enemy
Car doors, the unexpected enemy of bikers everywhere.
Motorists it seems aren’t doing the needful and checking their mirrors and looking over their shoulders before flinging open their doors into the path of unsuspecting bikers. LBH they don’t ‘come out of no-where’, they come up the road that you are opening your door onto, so take a good look.
4. Filtering isn’t ‘skipping’
So, you’re stuck in back-to-back traffic going nowhere fast and some rule-braking biker is just skipping everyone in between the lanes. Right?
Wrong. Filtering as it’s known is totally legal, so long as it’s done with due care & attention. In fact, it’s the reason most bikers commute this way, so they get a few extra zzzzz’s and spend less time crawling along like us car suckers.
If you see a biker filtering, what you should be doing is moving aside and giving them a bit more room, having a special look out for them before switching lanes and letting them in again near the top of the junction.
It is NOT OK to move your car to block them, it’s dangerous and not cool and makes everyone a loser.
Basically, don’t hate the player, hate the game.
5. Personal Space
So obvs we should always be keeping our distance from the car in front. That’s basic stuff.
But if you are following a biker you might wanna give them a bit extra room.
Bikers can use the incline of the road and lay off the revs to slow up and work through the gears, so you won’t always have a break light to tip you off that they are slowing down.
Combine that with the small/far away phenomenon (see point 1.) and if you don’t have a decent stopping distance, you could be in trouble.
6. Positioning is a whole thing
So before BikeSafe, if we’d seen a biker swerving left to right on the road we’d have probs assumed they were some reckless badass.
How wrong we were! It’s actually a really important driving technique called positioning.
It works like this:
So, if I’m a biker and I’m driving up a straight bit of road with a big lorry behind me, one way to make sure any approaching cars see me is to move from left to right to make me more visible, doing everyone on the road a real solid.
A major biker rule is to ‘never sacrifice grip for position’, so if I’m on my bike and I see some stuff up ahead on the road like grease, or dirt then I will need to change my position on the road so I can maintain my grip. Simples.
And if I’m riding along and I’m wondering what the hold up is, before I will commit to overtaking, I might wanna drive to the left of the lane and have a peek at what’s happening up ahead, and if I can’t really see, I might go to the left and into the other lane to get an even better view. That’s good driving, cos the biker is getting all the info they need before deciding to over take.
So after our day with BikeSafe, we are feeling seriously woke and have to say we think bikers are probably getting a rep from us car drivers. Now we understand why they do what they do, we have done a total 180 on our attitude and will be bit more considerate of our biking besties.
*Bike Safe are a police led motorcycle project that aims to reduce the number of bikers being hurt on the road by helping to develop the bikers skilled through theory presentations and observing them out on the road.
If you are a biker and would like to sign up to future events, you can find out more here.
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