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The loud pipes thread got me to thinking about the steps I take (or think I should take) while riding to stay as safe as possible. Not all of my loved ones are enamored with the fact that I ride my bike to work in the city with the second longest average commute time in the U.S. It's busy (though I leave very early to avoid this as much as possible). Most people around here are type As, they tend to be in a hurry, and many of them (not all) are either asses or relatively oblivious to their surroundings on the road. I thought about what I tell my loved ones about how I stay safe. I came up with these as my top 8. I've pretty much made these habit, though I find myself violating them now and then and have to remind myself about them. I'd be interested if anyone has any big ones I missed --- I probably did.

1. Always ride with a heightened sense of awareness of what is going on 360 degrees around you. I admit that this takes a bit of work and can take some of the fun out of it. Each rider decides his/her own degree of adherence to this strategy.

2. Always have an out. Same work/fun tradeoff as in 1. Your call how much to worry about it for yourself.

3. Never enter an intersection, whether you have the right of way or not, when a truck in the other lane substantially obscures the view of both oncoming traffic and those on the cross-road that are "supposed" to be stopped. I consider doing this to be Russian Roulette. It sometimes pisses off people behind me, but I'd rather do that than be squashed like a bug.

4. Never ride in a blind spot without an both an out and a heightened sense of awareness of what the other driver is doing.

5. Avoid as much as possible riding in a blind spot even when you have an out.

6. When approaching an exit, be especially aware of all traffic behind you (and beside you if you're stuck with that). Be prepared for asses like the guy in the Audi behind me on GW Parkway two weeks ago that decided my speed (about 8 mph over the speed limit) wasn't fast enough for him to reach his exit over the memorial bridge as quickly as he wanted. He zoomed into the left lane around me, zoomed back to the right lane, and exited right in front of me. I had a friend almost killed from a rocket scientist that conducted a similar experiment a few years ago. This is big one that we often forget. Where I live, the ass to nice guy ratio is rather high. (I sometimes call it the ass_ole coefficient. These coefficients vary by city. It makes my wife mad when I talk this way, but it seems pretty true to me.) Inattention to this possibility near exits could be fatal.

7. Avoid riding in the middle lane when there is a lot of tailgating traffic. What's your out? You may have one, but it's a dangerous out.

8. If either the left-most or right-most lane does not have a shoulder, avoid it if you can. Ride where you have an out. If no lanes have shoulders and there is a lot of tailgating traffic, well, that's no fun. If that goes on for miles, I get off and try to find another route.

What big ones have I left out? I suspect there may be old threads on this, but thought I check to see what folks think about my personal list of safe-riding strategies.

Happy and safe riding,
Dan
 

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Discussion Starter #2
After sending in my 8 strategies below,I realized I forgot two strategies that have become so second nature I for got them. I've added them, which brings my list to 10.

The loud pipes thread got me to thinking about the steps I take (or think I should take) while riding to stay as safe as possible. Not all of my loved ones are enamored with the fact that I ride my bike to work in the city with the second longest average commute time in the U.S. It's busy (though I leave very early to avoid this as much as possible). Most people around here are type As, they tend to be in a hurry, and many of them (not all) are either asses or relatively oblivious to their surroundings on the road. I thought about what I tell my loved ones about how I stay safe. I came up with these as my top 8. I've pretty much made these habit, though I find myself violating them now and then and have to remind myself about them. I'd be interested if anyone has any big ones I missed --- I probably did.

1. Always ride with a heightened sense of awareness of what is going on 360 degrees around you. I admit that this takes a bit of work and can take some of the fun out of it. Each rider decides his/her own degree of adherence to this strategy.

2. Always have an out. Same work/fun tradeoff as in 1. Your call how much to worry about it for yourself.

3. Never enter an intersection, whether you have the right of way or not, when a truck in the other lane substantially obscures the view of both oncoming traffic and those on the cross-road that are "supposed" to be stopped. I consider doing this to be Russian Roulette. It sometimes pisses off people behind me, but I'd rather do that than be squashed like a bug.

4. Never ride in a blind spot without an both an out and a heightened sense of awareness of what the other driver is doing.

5. Avoid as much as possible riding in a blind spot even when you have an out.

6. When approaching an exit, be especially aware of all traffic behind you (and beside you if you're stuck with that). Be prepared for asses like the guy in the Audi behind me on GW Parkway two weeks ago that decided my speed (about 8 mph over the speed limit) wasn't fast enough for him to reach his exit over the memorial bridge as quickly as he wanted. He zoomed into the left lane around me, zoomed back to the right lane, and exited right in front of me. I had a friend almost killed from a rocket scientist that conducted a similar experiment a few years ago. This is big one that we often forget. Where I live, the ass to nice guy ratio is rather high. (I sometimes call it the ass_ole coefficient. These coefficients vary by city. It makes my wife mad when I talk this way, but it seems pretty true to me.) Inattention to this possibility near exits could be fatal.

7. Avoid riding in the middle lane when there is a lot of tailgating traffic. What's your out? You may have one, but it's a dangerous out.

8. If either the left-most or right-most lane does not have a shoulder, avoid it if you can. Ride where you have an out. If no lanes have shoulders and there is a lot of tailgating traffic, well, that's no fun. If that goes on for miles, I get off and try to find another route.

9. When being tailgated, I tap my braklights twice to get the person to give more space. If they don't, I tap them twice again and look back. It usually works for me, but not always :frown2:.

10. At stop signs and stop lights, I am always aware of what is happening behind me and give myself an out if possible, ususally escaping up the right shoulder. I leave enough space so this is possible, and am aware of what the person behind me is doing.

What big ones have I left out? I suspect there may be old threads on this, but thought I check to see what folks think about my personal list of safe-riding strategies.

Happy and safe riding,
Dan
 

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All very good advice Dan.
Personally, I wouldn't ride a motorcycle to and from work unless it was a pleasurable experience. I used to commute 30 minutes each way in a pickup and found that 30 minutes to be beneficial in planning the day and winding down before getting home. Sounds like your commute is too stressful on a motorcycle unless it's beneficial to be wired for your job. I'd be a nervous wreck.
#11. Take a couple swigs of Maalox before each commute adventure.
 

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vd61,, Safety is yor number 1 priority, shortest list: stay home.?

otherwise all good stuff. and on a good day, its still a roll the dice, crap shoot, good luck with that, hope for the best, only 5 slugs in that 6 shooter, take yor chance, ride em and rope em.
 

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A quick note on using that empty shoulder as an out.

When shyte hits the fan and everyone starts slamming on their brakes looking for a place to burn off that extra speed they shouldn't have been carrying...Well that empty shoulder isn't likely to be empty anymore.

I'm not really big on lane splitting; but don't write off riding & stopping between two lanes of traffic. That shoulder may not be empty when you need it to be.

Scott
 

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Discussion Starter #7
All very good advice Dan.
Personally, I wouldn't ride a motorcycle to and from work unless it was a pleasurable experience. I used to commute 30 minutes each way in a pickup and found that 30 minutes to be beneficial in planning the day and winding down before getting home. Sounds like your commute is too stressful on a motorcycle unless it's beneficial to be wired for your job. I'd be a nervous wreck.
#11. Take a couple swigs of Maalox before each commute adventure.
I hear ya. A colleague of mind also rides to work, and he's got it worse, as he comes up I95, whereas I am mostly on a parkway. We've talked about how in some ways it's not really a "fun" ride. I'm a little wierd in that I actually enjoy the safety challenge some. It probably goes back to my private pilot days, where the entire routine centers around safety. Perhaps if I have a closer call than that Audi I mentioned I'll reevaluate.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
vd61,, Safety is yor number 1 priority, shortest list: stay home.?

otherwise all good stuff. and on a good day, its still a roll the dice, crap shoot, good luck with that, hope for the best, only 5 slugs in that 6 shooter, take yor chance, ride em and rope em.
Well, from two months of reading these forums, I've learned that Poncho 1) calls it like it is and 2) says it concisely and doesn't mince words. I couldn't agree with you more.

Part of this, I think, is that some of us enjoy the challenge of staying safe. Yes, I like riding past horse and wine country on Sunday mornings when the ants discussed in Zen are still still sleeping more than I like my commute. But right now, I like riding on my commute better than becoming one of the ants.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
A quick note on using that empty shoulder as an out.

When shyte hits the fan and everyone starts slamming on their brakes looking for a place to burn off that extra speed they shouldn't have been carrying...Well that empty shoulder isn't likely to be empty anymore.

I'm not really big on lane splitting; but don't write off riding & stopping between two lanes of traffic. That shoulder may not be empty when you need it to be.

Scott
Good point I hadn't thought of. I haven't ridden enough since coming back to riding be brave enough to run up between lanes, and I never had the balls to do it when I was a youngster either. But I wouldn't want to hesitate to do so if it were the best way out.
 

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I'm not really big on lane splitting; but don't write off riding & stopping between two lanes of traffic.

Scott
Also to continue on that, when stopping I always angle myself towards the center line and stop as close as I can to it. That way if I get hit from behind before I have the chance to look in my mirrors I just get pushed into the center line pin ball style, and not sandwiched between 2 cars.
 

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When riding on the street always ride "the pace"...
 

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There is a difference between city traffic and hiway traffic. We all know the dangers when we leave the house but we still ride. We can wear all the gear and ride as safe as possible but sometimes life turns to crap and that split second decision makes or breaks you. Add all of us have different skill levels with mine being mediocre all I can do is hope for the best.

If we get home alive and unhurt then for us it was a good day.
 

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I've been teaching the MSF classes for 23 years, and riding for over 43 years, and I have found five key aspects of riding to survive:
1. YOUR RESPONSIBILITY; to ride your best ride on every ride, to reduce and control risk yourself before anyone else can do it for you, to take control of your zone in traffic (don't follow so close, maintain space around you, be aware of how YOU hide in traffic and the view of others).
2. YOUR ATTITUDE; about riding is your highest level guiding principle about all aspects of riding, from choosing the right gear and using it, about knowing when YOUR actions in traffic cause most of the issues you experience in traffic, about keeping your skills sharp and get training to improve your riding (not just spend bucks on making your bike faster/louder).
3. SITUATIONAL AWARENESS; this is the MUCH bigger picture of understanding everything about riding, the road, traction, visibility issues, limited visual capabilities of car drivers, knowing how easily a motorcycle "hides" in traffic and terrain on and off the road, being aware of traffic aspects to learn from and build your rider intuition.
4. TRAINING AND LEARNING; goes FAR beyond taking a basic rider course, get additional training to understand your limitations and capabilities, read rider training books, learn from the videos, learn from long term/mentor riders. Learn to find more in your abilities than just puttering around town and then expect others to watch out for you.
5. VISION and VISIBILITY; learn and understand how critical your vision and visual abilities are to reducing the risks of riding, learn to ride with a strategy rather than just riding into whatever comes your way. CONTROL your vision and visibility, understand that car drivers who "never saw the motorcycle" for the most ware not lying, and be aware of all the aspects of motorcycling that easily makes us invisible to other road users.

I drew this as a circle around RISK as a method to contain the risk, and that each aspect of the five feeds off the others and feeds into the others in both directions.
 

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My Uncle Billy was a British motorcycle cop He taught me 2 things 1/ always remember that I'm invisible & 2/ always ride a little 2-3mph faster than the traffic so that I'm always coming up to traffic (better control)
 

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I would like to say a hearty Thank You to everyone who has contributed to this thread thusfar. I'm playing catchup both with this forum and with riding a real, live motorcycle again, and the wisdom, tips, and suggestions I'm picking up here are terrific for me as I get back to the road. Gawd, I'm glad I found this forum!

Victor
 
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