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I tell my MSF students that every ride is a learning opportunity, and if you are not learning, not building your rider intuition, not advancing your situational awareness on every ride, you are likely going to have traffic issues. And contrary to what a lot of people feel, MOST riders ride themselves into their own issues by their action but mostly by their LACK of actions. ONLY we riders have the best option to reduce our risks. ONLY we riders can do something to reduce our risks. If you expect other road users to consider you, watch for you, respect your rights on the road, then you are missing the fact that YOU, FIRST, are the one most responsible for what happens to you on every ride.

Yes it helps to ride defensively, but I feel that means you are riding REACTIVELY, in other words you react to what happens around you which often means you are riding in a higher risk situation. I coach riders to ride PROACTIVELY, meaning thinking about and doing everything to avoid riding into trouble. Some things you can do to greatly reduce your risks of riding: 1. Create more space/don't follow so close. 2. Do anything you can to improve your visibility, which also relates to creating more space around you, in all directions. 3. Any time you have a traffic issue, don't just blame the other road users, FIRST analyze everything you did/didn't do in the seconds before that issue, and you WILL find things that brought you to the issue. 4. Admit/accept your responsibility to control your risks.

If you start with that, and learn from everything YOU do when riding, your risk issues will decrease dramatically. I ride two to three times the national average in all kinds of weather, and I rarely have issues in traffic.
I completely agree w/ you in that you must ride proactively and mitigate as much risk as possible... I think that relates well to not riding beyond your skills, situational awareness, distance checking, etc... However, when I ride, I make the *assumption* at every intersection, that someone's going through it, or at every light that someone's going to run it, or that the cager behind me is too busy checking their phone to check the bike they're following... The one time I failed to double check that last assumption, I woke up looking into a the blurred face of a chubby cop bending over me...

All those assumptions are defensive actions, and with that one exception above, I've managed to avoid any other issues in 30 years of riding... and that includes the occasional aggressive ride through the north Ga mountains, or up into the Tennessee twisties... I think it's a bit presumptuous to believe that you can control all the variables, all the carelessness, all the make-up prep, texting, and other distractions taking place around you, or channel another driver's attitudes, intentions, or unexpected maneuvers, via your own "proactive" riding.

Btw, I have enormous respect for the MSF and think it should be *mandatory* nationwide (to protect those around bikers, as much as bikers themselves)...
 

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Because people are stupid. I agree with you though that the benefits outweigh the risks, but I got a kick out of that comment. I had a lady pass in front of my bright red Dodge Ram and tell me that she didn't see me. I just looked at her with this "are you really that stupid?" look on my face. Headlight modulators aren't a guarantee that everyone is going to see you and not interpret it as you yielding the right of way. I would drive just as defensively with the modulators that I would without them. Just because I don't know what the person in the other car is thinking...or their IQ score.
The first time I saw a bike with a headlight modulator I was convinced it was a cop car roof lights lit up a couple miles ahead.Wasn't till I got close that I figured out it was a bike.It still baffles me how a clear headlight looked exactly like red/blue cop lights,but that's just what it looked like to me.Maybe it was one of those blue headlights like a lot of newer cars have.It certainly got my attention and made me want one for my bike ever since,although I still haven't bought one yet.

Same with brake light flashers.First time I saw one it was soooo awesome,I had to have one,but haven't gotten around to it yet.

I also have a confession regarding your experience with the car pulling out on you while in your red truck.Recently I did that 3 times in a 2 week period.

First time I was on the bike,checked over my shoulder,and in the mirror,multiple times,for traffic before pulling out.No signs of life anywhere.The second I pull out,I see a full size,bright red pickup in the mirrors,wtf?!?!All I could do at that point was get on the throttle hard and hope their brakes worked well.

Just a couple days later,going to work in the car,same thing.I check for traffic 2 or 3 times both directions,nothing.While I'm starting across the intersection,a bright red,full size pickup is DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF ME.I mean I almost went right into the side of it,WTF?!?!

A couple days after that,driving the company van in the truck lot at work,I start to pull out of a 4 way stop,and I'm about to run into an 18 wheeler,WTF AGAIN?!?!?!How the smell did I not see a frickin 18 wheeler right beside me?!

Right after those weird experiences I read that we don't actually see with our eyes,but our brain.So I guess for that span of time my brain malfunctioned and didn't register the images that my eyes were sending it.

Come to think of it,it kinda happened again yesterday at work.I picked up a jug I needed off the floor,then when I went to put it back down a few seconds later,there was a wad of cash right in front of the spot I picked the jug up from.How the heck did I not see that when I was bent down to pick up the jug,with my face right over the money.

And in anticipation of some follow up questions...no,the jug did not contain moonshine:laugh2:

Anyway,to make this even longer,I guess the point is,even when poeple are paying attention and trying to drive safely,which most don't it seems,we still make incredibly stupid mistakes,so we need to be all the more carefull:nerd:
 

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Situational awareness goes far beyond the obvious. Things like lighting, both natural and man made, shadows, sun position (behind you, in front of you, low or high in the sky) all can make a motorcycle hard to see or disappear. All forms of things in the visual scan of car drivers that hide the vertical thin image of a motorcycle, and those things can be in front of you and behind you. Visual elements of other road users, like large vehicles, that take visual priority versus your slim vertical image in traffic make you disappear, even if only for a second.

I tell my students when you are driving your car or other vehicle, imagine looking for ways that a motorcycle can hide in your visual scan, especially if you are not normally looking for them. "See" yourself on your bike from the viewpoint of the car driver and imagine how you disappear. Even the windshield post to your left can hide a bike VERY easily especially if the car is at 90 degrees to your path, but your speeds are matched in a way that you visual image remains hidden by the windshield post till the lest second.

Visual clues from drivers; visors down to shield the driver's eyes, when I see these on cars approaching me are a big warning that I am only a shadow to them. On the highway when a car driver turns their visor to the side window to limit the sun on their face is another huge warning signal. Drivers sitting weird or low in their vehicle is another warning. Same for any vehicle with damaged mirrors.

I could go on and on. Situational awareness, like risk management, is ours alone to control and learn from. Any rider that expects ANY road user to see them, respect their space, expect logical actions, is doomed to crash. It is all and only up to us as riders. To expect anything from other road users is asking for trouble.
 

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Like most riders have already experienced, I, too, have had cars pull out right in front of me. I primarily use a white helmet, added some really bright LED driving lights on the front, and big-time upgraded my rear lights with brighter LEDs. (I don't want someone running over me either and claim they didn't see me!)

But if some bozo driver out there is just bound and determined to not see anything other than what they want to see, then whatever I do (visibility-wise) won't help when encountering this type of incompetence behind the wheel.

I had a good friend get killed maybe 6 or 7 years ago on a bike. I have never gotten the straight story on it but in his case it was he, on his 1500 Vulcan Classic, that ran into the rear end of a stopped 18 wheeler on
a highway. The driver of the truck was literally walking to the rear of the truck to place out some emergency reflective triangles to ward off people when my friend slammed into him (in daylight) doing 60+.

So, in this case it was the bike rider that was apparently distracted for whatever reason, not noticing that the BIG thing in front of him was getting larger and larger.

I guess I'll never know the whole story about it. I was supposed to be with him on this trip but couldn't make it. He did have another rider with him but he was behind him.

I suppose the collective morals to the story that a lot of people in this thread have touched upon is that yes, there are physical things you can, and should, do to make yourself more visible, but the most important thing to do happens in your own noggin: Be SITUATIONALLY AWARE. Always. Letting the mind drift happens to all of us from time to time. This apparently is what happened to him and in that specific scenario it got him. He was a damned fine person and friend. But the cemetery doesn't care if it is filled with good, wonderful people or flat-out idiots. It takes us all.
 

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I completely agree w/ you in that you must ride proactively and mitigate as much risk as possible... I think that relates well to not riding beyond your skills, situational awareness, distance checking, etc... However, when I ride, I make the *assumption* at every intersection, that someone's going through it, or at every light that someone's going to run it, or that the cager behind me is too busy checking their phone to check the bike they're following... The one time I failed to double check that last assumption, I woke up looking into a the blurred face of a chubby cop bending over me...

All those assumptions are defensive actions, and with that one exception above, I've managed to avoid any other issues in 30 years of riding..
Actually, riding with those assumptions, with that attitude, means you are riding proactively. It sets your attitude that you have stake in all the traffic issues before the issues become something you HAVE to react to.

I'm not saying that all issues can be avoided, but its not at all presumptuous to say MOST issues can be avoided. A very high percentage of issues are ours to impact positively, and taking on the attitude that we riders have the most to control is critical to reducing our risks.
 

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Actually, riding with those assumptions, with that attitude, means you are riding proactively. It sets your attitude that you have stake in all the traffic issues before the issues become something you HAVE to react to.

I'm not saying that all issues can be avoided, but its not at all presumptuous to say MOST issues can be avoided. A very high percentage of issues are ours to impact positively, and taking on the attitude that we riders have the most to control is critical to reducing our risks.
Can't argue with that... and, if I was not proactive just this afternoon, and *assumed* someone would run a green light I was coming up on (theirs was red), I'd be splattered all over Peachtree Parkway in metro Atlanta right now...
https://youtu.be/1QvaOyPpdQs
 

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Crash statistics show that many crashes occur close to home. That means the crashes occur on the roads and in traffic most familiar to the rider, and the surroundings, lighting conditions, traffic patterns, etc are more familiar to the rider than other traffic/road users. Then consider the most frequent crashes are cars turning left into the rider or not yielding right of way to the rider. Given all that how is it that statistics prove these crashes are the most frequent?

Logic then says the rider has significant influence on the outcome, or for that matter significant involvement in avoiding the crash to begin with. That is why it is imperative on the rider to take on the attitude of doing whatever possible to improve the outcome of every ride. Riders that put it all on other traffic users are doomed to suffer the consequences of what traffic brings to them. Again, not ALL issues can be avoided, but a very high percentage of traffic issues can be avoided.
 

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The best way to avoid accidents with cars is too avoid riding in congested areas with lots of intersections. Just because you have a right to do it, doesn't mean it is a good idea. Like jogging along a busy road; real healthy until someone runs you over. We can do our part and be highly visible and ride defensively, but that is only half the equation. In the end, everything else being equal, it's a numbers game; the more you ride and the more you are around cars the odds of an accident go up. I generally ride during low traffic times and in low traffic areas on the weekend, although I do feel comfortable riding in the city on occasion. I ride a motorcycle to relieve stress, not create it. I may be a wimp, but I want to be a wimp for a long time. ATGATT. Just my two cents.
 

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Over the past few years I have ridden my Vulcan, scooters, and a bicycle with a 2 stroke. The ONLY reason I have lived through it is that I pay attention to EVERYTHING that I can keep track of.
I consider myself a competent rider for the simple fact that I don't take things like right of way or that they see me for granted. Confident, but cautious is the best thing any of us can strive for
 

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I've been riding a 125 scooter for the past few years so I am even less noticeable than a full fledged bike. I've found that using the hand signal for slow/stop is usually very effective in getting the attention of drivers behind me, especially well in advance when approaching railroad crossings.
 
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