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What with riding season opening, I have been seeing a lot more minor motorcycle accidents recently. It's that time of the year and is to be expected, but the "same lane passing" thread got me thinking about traffic strategy, in particular when it comes to the new riders around.

A majority of the accidents I have heard of lately could have been avoided simply by adjusting the riders position in traffic, and their overall traffic strategy. I thought maybe a discussion of how you guys deal with different situations could be helpful. Yes I know, every season there is something like this, but a thread like this really did help me two years ago, so I thought I would give it a shot.

My personal strategy is pretty simple: Keep yourself where other traffic expects you to be. Humans, being creatures of habit, tend to only watch in directions they expect a threat to be coming from. I feel it's important to place yourself in places where you can see and be seen, but also where other traffic expects a vehicle to be.

The two examples I have are as follow: A friend of mine had a rather nasty wreck a few months ago (somehow escaped unharmed) that pertaines to this. He was behind two vehicles, a pickup and a car, and decided to pass both at once. In his defense, the road was empty other then the three of them, and had clear line of sight for a long distance. He should have made it past without a problem, but right as he started to pass, the pickup made a left turn. You can guess what happened next.

He was travelling around 100mph (he says) and feels that the pickup should have seen him coming. I couldn't get him to understand that the pickup driver was not actually doing anything illegal. He was allowed to turn there, and passing two cars at 100mph is just silly. The driver did not see him because he did not look. Logic and experiance told him that he could see the car behind in his rearview, and that would be the vehicle to expect a pass from. My friend was simply not in a place where he should have been, and therefore was not seen. Plus the dozens of other mistakes he made, but the point remains.

Right turns on red lights at single lane intersections is the other common problem I see. I don't mind filtering up on the right of a line of cars, but the speed at which people do it scares me. Drivers are not expecting you there, and this can often lead to a panic reaction when you flash by their window. If the light turns green and traffic starts moving, there is a good chance one of the drivers is going to decide to make a right. Chances are, they are not going to look for traffic on the right if there is only one lane. Often a car could not fit in that spot, so there is no percieved threat.

Anyway, I wanted to write something, and with all the new riders around I figured I might do a little good. I want to hear what you all do to keep yourselves alive and riding, beyond the basic atgatt, and other normal protocall. What do you see on the road that appears safe but has hidden threats? You might just save a life by posting it up, you never know who is going to read this.
 

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Well said to both of you. :)
 

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a big thing i always try to do is leave an escape route. i am constantly scanning the road to determine where i can go if someone decides they need to run me off the road. whether it requries braking, gas, swerving or both im always looking for the holes.

to prevent the escape from even happening in the first place, i try to never ride directly next to a car or in their blind spot. whenever possible i try to stagger my position with other vehicles on the road, so if they make any quick maneuvers it gives me that much more time to react. and like in football you watch the hips, i keep an eye on the tires. you can usually get a feel for when somebody is itching to switch lanes because they are in a hurry. its one of those 6th senses you gradually pick up.

one thing that really bugs me is when im first in line at a red light, in the right lane, and people try to squeeze past me to make their right on red, potentially running over my feet or whacking me with their mirror. so recently i have been stopping on the right side of the lane to try and claim my space. i have to make a consious effort to remember to do this, because being in chicago i am never riding on the right side of the right hand lane (potholes, people merging into you from the left)
 

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#1 - I try not to speed (too much anyway). I find this has saved my azz MANY times.
#2 - I drive like EVERY SINGLE other driver will do the wrong thing. ie. That guy making a left into my lane looking at me in the eyeballs? He's going to cut me off. The girl coming down behind me at the light? She doesn't see me. That phucquer in the pickup at the 4 way stop? He's going to turn in front of me. I basically drive like I'm invisible.
#3 - I NEVER EVER tailgate.
#4 - Every so often, I'll practice abrupt stops, as well as abrupt avoidances, ie. quick countersteers to avoid road debris. This has saved me from running over truck tires on the highway, mattresses, turkeys, raccons, etc etc
 

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I'm usually very careful about my lane position. I try to ride to the left side of the lane, basically where I would be if I were in a car. I make sure I can see the face of the person in front of me in their rear view mirror giving them the best chance to know I'm there. This also puts me directly in front of anyone behind me hopefully increasing my chances of being seen. Sometimes this strategy changes due to road conditions, but it's how I usually ride.

One thing I know that is very simple and everyone should do but many of us don't is use our turn signals. Yes I can dart around traffic very easily if I so choose, but I'm much smaller than a car and easily knocked down. So I always signal and try not to change lanes like a demon. The less abrupt movements you make the easier it is for other drivers to predict what you're going to do.

I hate riding in blind spots, I do my best to avoid being in them at all times. Most people won't notice one of us with a quick head check when changing lanes. If I can't get in front of a vehicle I at least ride a little ahead of their door window. That way I'm pretty much in their merge line of sight, and if I feel like they're coming over without considering me I can usually accelerate out of the way.
 

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Someone above touched on it, but I'd like to elaborate. Claim your space. Make yourself clearly visible and don't put yourself in a position where someone else feels like, since you're small enough, they can try to maneuver around you (like to make a right turn by squeezing past you).
 

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Whenever I come up along a line of cars in the other lane (going same direction as me), I always assume that any of the cars in that line will get impatient and dart out in front of me.

I will often wave other cars through a 4-way stop intersection if there's ANY chance they might go at the same time (like we got to the intersection even CLOSE to the same time). I yield right of way more often than not. (and contrary to what some one said on a forum, maybe not this one, but "right of way" has NOTHING to do with "right hand" and everything with "right" as having the right to something (life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness))
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Good stuff, keep it coming guys. branski made me think of another big one. When in a line of traffic at a stop, angle your bike out so that if you need to escape the line you can. A good one that luckily I have not needed yet, but I still try to practice.
 

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When pulling off a highway, be sure you slow down enough in case there's poor traction, like sand or gravel, in whatever driveway or whatever it is you're turning into. You get so used to speed on the highway that it's easy to come in "too hot" to safely negotiate a slippery spot.
 

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Traveling that fast can make other drivers mistake where you will be. The truck driver may have glanced in his rearview a few seconds before turning, seen the bike at a good distance away, and then executed his turn in what he thought was a safe amount of time. Never pass unless you are sure the driver in front of you knows you're going to pass. Just to be on the super safe side, don't pass where there is something on the left the driver may decide to turn into (parking lot, street, driveway).
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Yeah, my friends accident was caused by a number of factors, but I thought it would demonstrate the point I was trying to make. This kid is like an accident machine, I swear to god he is trying to die.

And good point terryb, that is another good one. I have almost dumped it myself pulling off the road too fast.
 

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always know that murphys law is not on your side. expect every wrong thing that can go wrong and thow out the idea that things will go right. be ready to react at a moments notice. and never no matter how perfect the situation is should you ever let your guard down.

the last reason is why i stopped commuting on the bike. when i leave work i'm to tired to be completely focused so i decided its just a plain bad idea to do it.
 

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I always keep my first 2 fingers on the brake lever. It's such a habit now that it feels very strange to try to ride without covering the brake.
 

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At stop lights I notice cars will often bias themselves a little to one side or the other. I try to line up (to the bigger gap) so that if I either get clobbered from behind or see someone barreling up like they don't see me, that I can shoot up between the cars ahead. I figure getting hit from behind will suck a lot less if I'm not caught between the bumpers front and rear. Until there is a car stopped behind me, I watch the rear views like a hawk.
 

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I dont think theres a rule really, but more that it depends on the situation ive found.

I mean general rule is leave room, always look everywhere, practice breaking & try to be as visible as possible.

for me, I have this entrance ramp that merges in on my way to work & I get as far to the right as I can so that cars that are merging in can see me even if I dont have much room around me because of traffic. I do the same when coming over a blind straight hill, get far over to my right incase some moron is crossing the lines on the other side.

It all depends on the situation.
 

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OH YEAH! And from time to time I will swerve around just to do it & just 2 or 3. (when it is safe)
It attracts attention and attention on me makes them aware of my presence on the road.
 
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