10 Tips For Riding in the Traffic.

Ten Tips For Riding in Traffic

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 don't forget those drivers with mobile phones, newspapers or screaming kids to deal with...imagine trying to guess what they're going to do.

Riding through traffic can be a motorcyclists nightmare, especially for street-riding newcomers. Is it any wonder so many motorcyclists are involved in accidents 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 accidents.Here are 10 top tips for dealing with traffic on our streets.

1. 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).

2. Trust your mirrors, but not totally.

Your motorcycle mirrors can be lifesavers, but they don't always tell the entire story even if they're adjusted properly. In traffic, always double check 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.

3. 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.

4. 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 mobile phone-yakking driver cuts across your path trying to get to that parking space or shops, you'll be ready.

5. 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. Hi Vis jackets and accessories, are fast becoming a fashion accessory, so you have no excuses not to wear them.

6. 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. Doing so gives you the option of leaping ahead instead of being limited to just using the brakes when that van suddenly moves over. The higher revs might also alert more motorists to your presence.

7. Traffic slowing?

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.

8. 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 asking for trouble.

9. Left-turn treachery.

When approaching an oncoming car that's stopped and about to turn right, 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.

10. Study the surface.

Add road conditions to your scan. Be on the lookout for spilled oil, antifreeze or fuel; it'll usually show up on the surface. 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 tyres discover how slippery the stuff is.

Being aware whilst riding in heavy traffic, or even if the roads are quiet, can prevent accidents to you or others on the road.

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