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50 Ways to Save Your Life (from Motorcyclist Magazine) - Part 1

  • 02-27-2008 | 03:21 PM
  • neebelung
  • This was published in 2006, but it's still a very relevant and important list to read:

    1. Assume you're invisible Because to a lot of drivers you are. Never make a move based on the assumption that another driver sees you, even if you've just made eye contact. Bikes don't always register in the four-wheel mind.

    2. Be Considerate The consequence of strafing the jerk du jour or cutting him off start out bad and get worse. Pretend it was your grandma and think again.

    3. Dress for the crash, not the pool or prom Sure, Joaquin's Fish Tacos is a 5-minute trip, but nobody plans to eat pavement. Modern mesh gear means 100-degree heat is no excuse for a T-shirt and board shorts.

    4. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst. Assume that a car across the intersection will turn across your bow when the light goes green, with or without a turn signal.

    5. Leave your ego at home The only people who really care if you were faster on the freeway will be the officer and the judge.

    6. Pay attention Yes, there is a half naked girl on the billboard. That shock does feel squishy. Meanwhile, you could be drifting toward big trouble. Focus.

    7. Mirrors only show you part of the picture Never change direction without turning your head to make sure the coast is really clear.

    8. Always take another second or three before you pull out to pass Ride away from a curb or into freeway traffic from an on-ramp. It's what you don't see that gets you. That extra look could save your life.

    9.Watch your closing speed Passing cars at twice their speed or changing lanes to shoot past a row of stopped cars is just asking for trouble.

    10. Beware the verge and merge A lot of nasty surprises end up on the side of the road: empty McDonald's bags, nails, TV antennas, ladders, you name it. Watch for potential debris on the sides of the road.

    11. Left-turning Car remains a leading killer of motorcyclist. Don't assume someone will wait for you to dart through the intersection. They're trying to beat the light, too.

    12. Beware of cars running traffic lights The first few seconds after a light changes are the most perilous. Look both ways before barging into a intersection.

    13. Check your mirrors Do it every time you change lanes, slow down or stop. Be ready to move if another vehicle is about to occupy the space you'd planned to use.

    14.Mind the gap Remember driver's ED? One seconds worth of distance per 10 MPH is the best rule of thumb. Better still, scan the next 12 seconds ahead for potential trouble.

    15. Beware the tuner car They're quick and their drivers tend to be aggressive. Don't assume you've beaten one away from a light or out spaced it in traffic and change lanes without looking. You could end up as a Nissan hood ornament.

    16. Excessive entrance speed hurts It's the leading cause of single bike accidents on twisty roads and racetracks. In slow, out fast is the adage, and it still works. Dialing up corner speed is safer than scrubbing it off.

    17. Don't trust that deer whistle Ungulates and other feral beast prowl at dawn and dusk, so heed those big yellow signs. If you're ridding in a target-rich environment, slow down and watch the shoulders.

    18. Learn to use both brakes The front does most of your stopping, but a little rear brake on a corner entry can calm a nervous chassis

    19. Keep the front brake covered-always Save a second of reaction time at 60 mph and you can stop 88 feet shorter. Think about that.

    20. Look where you want to go Use the miracle of target fixation to your advantage. The motorcycle goes where you look, so focus on the solution instead of the problem.

    21. Keep your eyes moving Traffic is always shifting, so keep scanning for potential trouble. Don't lock your eyes on any one thing for too long unless you're actually dealing with trouble.

    22. Think before you act Careful whipping around that Camry going 7 mph in a 25 mph zone or you could end up with your head in the driver's side door when he turns into the driveway right in front of you.

    23. Raise your gaze It's too late to do anything about the 20 feet immediately in front of your fender, so scan the road far enough ahead to see trouble and change trajectory.

    24. Get your mind right in the driveway Most accidents happen during the first 15 minutes of a ride, below 40 mph, near an intersection or driveway. Yes, that could be your driveway.

    25. Come to a full stop at the next stop sign Put a foot down. Look again. Anything less forces a snap decision with no time to spot potential trouble.
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  • 02-27-2008 | 03:21 PM
  • neebelung
  • 26. Never drive into a gap in stalled traffic Cars may have stopped for a reason, and you may not be able to see why until it's too late to do anything about it.

    27. Don't saddle up more than you can handle If you weigh 95 pounds, avoid that 795-pound cruiser. If you're 5-foot-5, forget those towering adventure-tourers.

    28. Watch for car doors opening in traffic And smacking a car that is swerving around some goof-balls open door is just as painful.

    29. Don't get in a intersection rut Watch for a two-way stop after a string of four-way intersection's if you expect crossing traffic to stop, there could be a painful surprise when it doesn't.

    30. Stay in your comfort zone when you're in a group. Riding over your head is a good way to end up in a ditch. Any bunch worth riding with will have a rendezvous point where you'll be able to link up again.

    31. Give your eyes some time to adjust. A minute or two of low light heading from a well lighted garage onto dark streets is a good thing. Otherwise you're essentially flying blind for the first mile or so.

    32. Master the slow U-turn Practice. Park your butt on the outside edge of the seat and lean the bike into the turn as a counter weight as you pivot around the rear wheel.

    33. Who put a stop sign at the top of this hill? Don't panic. Use the rear brake to keep from rolling back down. Use Mr. Throttle and Mr. Clutch normally-and smoothly-to pull away.

    34. If it looks slippery assume it is. A patch of suspicious pavement could be just about anything. Butter flavor Crisco? Gravel? Mobil 1? Or maybe it's nothing. Better to slow down for nothing than go on your head.

    35. Bang! A blowout! Now what? No sudden moves. The motorcycle isn't happy, so prepare to apply a little calming muscle to maintain course. Ease back the the throttle, brake gingerly with the good wheel and pull over to the shoulder. Big sigh.

    36. Drops on the face shield It's raining. Lightly misted pavement can be slipperier than when it's rinsed by a down-pour, and you never know how much grip there is. Apply maximum-level concentration, caution and smoothness.

    37. Emotions in check? To paraphrase Mr. Ice Cube, chickity-check yo self. Emotions are as powerful as any drug, so take inventory every time you saddle up. If you're mad, sad, exhausted or anxious, stay put
    38. Wear good gear.Wear stuff that fits you and the weather. If you're too hot or too cold or fighting with a jacket that binds across the shoulders you're dangerous. It's that simple.

    39. Leave the IPOD at home. You wont hear that cement truck in time with Spinal Tap cranked to 11, but they might like your headphones in intensive care.

    40. Learn to swerve. Be able to do tight turns in quick succession. Flick left around the bag of briquettes then right back to your original line of trajectory the bike will follow your eyes so look at the way around, not the briquettes. Now practice till it's a reflex.

    41. Be smooth at low speeds. Take some angst out, especially of slow speed maneuvers, with a bit of rear brake. It adds a welcome bit of stability by minimizing unwelcome weight transfer and potentially bothersome drive line lash.

    42. Flashing is good for you. Turn signals get attention by flashing, right?So a few easy taps on the pedal or lever before stopping makes your brake light more eye-catching to trailing traffic.

    43. Intersections are scary, so hedge your bets. Put another vehicle between your bike and the possibility of someone running the stop sign/red light on your right and you cut your chances of getting nailed in half.

    44.Tune your peripheral vision Pick a point of that wall over there. Now scan as far as you can by moving your attention , not your gaze. The more you can see with out turning your head, the sooner you can react to trouble.

    45. All alone at a light that wont turn green? Put as much motorcycle as possible directly above the sensor wire-Usually buried in the pavement beneath you and locate by a round or a square pattern behind the limit line. If the light still wont change, try putting your kickstand down. You should be on your way in seconds.

    46. Everything is harder to see after dusk Adjust your headlights. Carry a clear face shield and have your game all the way on after dark, especially during commuting hours.

    47. Don't troll next to-right behind- Mr. Peter-built. If one of those 18-retreads blows up- Which they do with some regularity- it de-treads, and that can be ugly. Unless you like dodging huge chunks of flying rubber keep your distance.

    48. Take the panic out of panic stops. Develop a intimate relationship with your front brake. Seek out some safe, open pavement. Starting slowly, find that fine line between maximum braking and locked wheel, and then do it again, and again.

    49. Make sure your tires right. None of this stuff matters unless your skins are right. Don't take'em for granted. Make sure pressure is spot-on every time you ride. Check for cuts, nails and other junk they might have picked up, as well as general wear.

    50. Take a deep breath Count to 10. Visualize whirled peas. Forgetting some clown's 80-mph interscretion beats running the risk of ruining your life, or ending it.
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  • 02-27-2008 | 04:12 PM
  • Rider
  • Fantastic post. All good information.
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  • 02-27-2008 | 04:16 PM
  • marko138
  • Excellent information.
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  • 02-27-2008 | 04:18 PM
  • dReWpY
  • 51. Maintain speed a few MPH above the flow of traffic. It is easier to see and react to to something that is in front of you then behind.
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  • 02-27-2008 | 04:26 PM
  • neebelung
  • Quote drewpy
    51. Maintain speed a few MPH above the flow of traffic. It is easier to see and react to to something that is in front of you then behind.
    Excellent. Not to mention, if you're not staying stagnant/in the same place & pace with traffic, you're more visible to cagers.
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  • 02-27-2008 | 04:30 PM
  • Rider
  • Quote neebelung
    Excellent. Not to mention, if you're not staying stagnant/in the same place & pace with traffic, you're more visible to cagers.
    So you mean wheelies at 90 on the freeway are encouraged?

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  • 02-27-2008 | 04:31 PM
  • neebelung
  • Quote Rider
    So you mean wheelies at 90 on the freeway are encouraged?

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  • 03-24-2008 | 12:54 AM
  • azoomm
  • Another tidbit... from the same place. Though, this time only 15...


    15 Riding-In-Traffic Tips
    Basics? Sure. But keeping them fresh in your cranial RAM could be thedifference between riding tomorrow and The Long Nap
    writer: The Motorcyclist Staff
    photographer: Kevin Wing

    Close your eyes and recall your last ride in heavy traffic.Imagine the vehicles surrounding you, crowding you, cutting you off. Imagine yourself monitoring closing speeds, reading street signs, noticing and anticipating traffic lights. Then imagine guessing what pedestrians will do, or how slippery that painted line might be. And those drivers with cell phones, newspapers or screaming kids to deal with...imagine trying to guess what they're going to do.

    Riding in traffic can be a nightmare, especially for street-riding newcomers. Is it any wonder so many motorcyclists crash and burn while riding on congested streets? It's amazing how many different tasks motorcyclists deal with on a normal traffic-choked commute. Doing it successfully means processing a multitude of items at once and reacting correctly to each. Doing it wrong can mean roadkill--the human kind.Here are 15 smart strategies for dealing with traffic-choked streets.

    Watch drivers' heads and mirrors
    Watching the head movements of drivers through their windows and mirrors is an excellent way to anticipate sudden moves. Most drivers won't lunge left or right without first moving their heads one way or another (even if they don't check their mirrors).

    Trust your mirrors, but not totally
    Your bike's mirrors can be lifesavers, but they don't always tell the entire story even if they're adjusted properly. In traffic, always buttress your mirror-generated rear view with a glance over the appropriate shoulder. Do it quickly and you'll add an extra measure of rear-view and blind-spot knowledge to your info-gathering tasks.

    Never get between a vehicle and an offramp
    This sounds almost too simple, but drivers who decide to exit at the last minute kill plenty of riders each year. The simple rule, then, is to never position yourself between a vehicle and an offramp. Passing on the right is generally a no-no, but in this day and age it's sometimes necessary. So if you do it, do so between exits or cross-streets.

    Cover your brakes
    In traffic you must often react extra quickly, which means not fumbling for the brake lever or pedal. To minimize reach time, always keep a finger or two on the brake lever and your right toe close to the rear brake pedal. When that cell phone-yakking dorkus cuts across your path trying to get to the 7-Eleven for a burrito supreme, you'll be ready.

    Be noticed
    Make sure drivers and pedestrians can see you, even from a distance. Ride with your high beam on during the day (as a courtesy, turn it off when sitting behind someone at a light), and wear brightly colored gear, especially your helmet and jacket. Aerostich's Hi Vis yellow suits and jackets aren't just hugely conspicuous, they've also become fashionable, so now you don't have an excuse.

    Be ready with the power
    In traffic, ride in a gear lower than you normally would so your bike is ready to jump forward instantly if asked. (Not everyone rides open-class twins, after all.) Doing so gives you the option of leaping ahead instead of being limited to just using the brakes when that pickup suddenly moves over. The higher revs might also alert more cagers to your presence.

    Traffic slowing? Stay left (or right)
    When traffic slows suddenly, stay to the left or right of the car in front of you. This will give you an escape route if needed. It will also help keep you from becoming a hood ornament if the car behind you fails to stop in time. Once you've stopped, be ready--clutch in, your bike in gear and your eyes on the mirrors. You never know.

    Practice the scan
    Constantly scanning your entire environment while riding--from instruments to mirrors to the road ahead to blind spots to your left and right rear--keeps you aware and in touch with your situation, and therefore better able to react. Dwelling on one area too long--watching only behind or in front of you, for instance--is just begging for trouble.

    Left-turn treachery
    When approaching an oncoming car that's stopped and about to turn left, be ready. Your brights should be on so the driver can see you (during the day), but don't rely on this to save you. Watch the car's wheels or the driver's hands on the steering wheel; if you see movement, be ready to brake, swerve or accelerate, whichever seems best for the situation.

    Study the surface
    Add asphalt conditions to your scan. Be on the lookout for spilled oil, antifreeze or fuel; it'll usually show up as shiny pavement. Also keep an eye out for gravel and/or sand, which is usually more difficult to see. Use your sense of smell, too; often you can smell spilled diesel fuel before your tires discover how slippery the stuff is.

    Ride in open zones
    Use your bike's power and maneuverability to ride in open zones in traffic. In any grouping of vehicles there are always some gaps; find these and ride in them. Doing so will separate you from four-wheelers, give you additional room to maneuver and allow you to keep away from dangerous blind spots. And vary your speed. Riding along with the flow can make you invisible to other drivers, especially in heavy traffic.

    Use that thumb
    Get into the habit of canceling your turn signals often regardless of the traffic situation. A blinking signal might tell drivers waiting to pull into the road or turning left in front of you that you're about to turn when you aren't. So push that switch a few times each minute. Better to wear out the switch than eat a Hummer's hood, eh?

    It's good to be thin
    A huge advantage single-track vehicles have over four-wheelers is their ability to move left and right within a lane to enable the rider to see what's ahead. Whether you're looking to the side of the cars ahead or through their windshields, seeing what's coming can give you lots of extra time to react.

    More than one way out
    Yeah, motorcycles fall down. But they're also light, narrow and hugely maneuverable, so you might as well learn to exploit their strengths when things get ugly, right? So don't just brake hard in a hairball situation. There's almost always an escape route. Swerving into Mrs. Smith's front yard could be a lot better than centerpunching the Buick that turned left in front of you. Always have an escape route planned, and update it minute by minute.

    Running interference
    This one's easy, and we'll bet most of you already do it: Let larger vehicles run interference for you when negotiating intersections. If the bonehead coming toward you from the left or right is going to blow the light, better they hit the box van next to you, right? For the same reasons, don't lunge through an intersection as soon as the light turns green. Be patient, and use the vehicles next to you as cover.
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  • 03-24-2008 | 09:03 AM
  • OneSickPsycho
  • 52. Don't Ride Like an Asshole
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