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209 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
For the record: I hate the fact this forum is embedded in the "New Rider Section", because Safety on Two Wheels is for everyone, not only new riders! My position on the matter is here.

I will start... This was originally a response on this thread.
I cleaned up the post a bit for easier consumption, but the gist of this discussion is:

Bring your rider experience, practice, and technique to help others stay safe on the streets!

Highway Riding
Take your time getting used to it
It's important to get on the highway when we're comfortable with going with the flow of traffic at high speeds.
  • Let's be comfortable with the fact that we'll be uncomfortable
  • Provide even more distance ahead to react to changing variables (people changing lanes, stopped traffic, road debris, etc.)
    • For every 10mph, we should add one car length ahead of us, as a cushion of time to react to changes.
      This means if we're traveling at 80mph, we should have 8 car lengths ahead to react to changing traffic conditions.
  • Plan to stay on the highway in lengths of 2mi (~3km) each interval.
    • Merging & exiting the highway might be one of the most stressful parts of highway riding. This is sort of like practicing touch & go when we're qualifying for our Pilot's License
  • Merge at the pace of traffic, no less. We must meet the flow of traffic for others to know we're there (if not just a little faster than the flow(like +5mph (+8kmh))
    • One of the major mistakes we make is going too fast, and expecting other drivers to be able to register our presence.
Just breathe!
Remember to breathe! It's okay to be nervous; breathing helps us process our nervousness.
  • It's best to practice breathing when we're not facing the stress of a new riding environment.
  • Not shallow hyperventilation - we need to complete in/out breathing at regular intervals.
On the highway
  • We must learn how to stay out of driver's blind spots (click on the image to view the source article)
    • Blind spots are damning for motorcyclists, especially if we're splitting lanes in driver's blind spots.
      These blind spots are essentially the same for a motorcyclist (you do have blind spots, that's why we look left & right when we're changing lanes; using our mirrors aren't enough.
  • Check your mirrors & look over your shoulders before changing lanes. If you're in a tuck, you can also look under your shoulder (whatever works for you).
  • Another important practice when riding on the highway is to take care lane changing while there is another vehicle traveling at the same pace as the opening of the lane we want to move into. This is best with a visual... Time to inkscape and ShareX!

    I have avoided several accidents by foreseeing this (this awareness helps too, when we're driving our regular vehicles).

    To avoid an accident: Keep checking your shoulder views (your blind spots) in the direction you're changing lanes, and always always give yourself space between you and the vehicle ahead of you to react to a mindless driver who is zooming into the lane you're changing into.

    Source files for the vector graphics: MotorcyclePink carBlue carYellow carBlack car
About our usual routines
  • If we listen to music, let's turn it down!
    • It's quite pleasant to listen to music while we ride, but it's best to turn it down (or even off) when we're learning a new environment.
    • Generally, we shouldn't listen to music loud, wherever we are, but sometimes music helps us focus.
Highway riding conclusions
  • Essentially, when we're (justifiably) more spatially aware and know what we have to do to get to where we want to go safely, we'll become more confident in our ability to ride in various riding conditions.
  • Eventually though (as my Brother told me 23 Feb 21 at the dinner table) - there will come a time when you just have to figure it out for yourself. Find out what works for you, and run with it.

209 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
More on Just breathe!
This was written as a reply to @SlimJim from his thread on feeling rushed whilst riding in traffic.

Breathing in traffic
As I wrote in the first post on rider safety, I mentioned breathing. Breathing helps us process our emotions, specifically, the feeling of being rushed.

Once we're comfortable with doing basic maneuvers in parking lots, we can start our maneuvers and focus on our breathing (not hyperventilating, mind you).
Breathing will help us calm our nerves, help maintain focus & relaxed muscles.

Relaxing in traffic
This is huge - relaxing. Being one with the environment; feeling the experience and being at peace with our surroundings.
Relaxing helps us maintain our agility when braking & cornering (mainly).

I used to ride more than 14 times a week, to/from work as well as the local mountain roads. I remember I was always so tense - I hadn't ever been taught to relax.
At some point during the browsing session to discover riding techniques, I came across the technique of relaxing. In comes in two flavors (and probably more).

The first flavor of relaxing
"Don't force the motorcycle to do what you want; help it along the path you've tasked it with."

This is because the motorcycle is a gyroscope; when you flick it a way its mass wasn't projected to turn, turbulence ensues. Neither the rider nor the motorcycle will be happy with the results.

I will try to rewrite this in a way that makes sense after I get some sleep.
The second flavor of relaxing
It should go something like, "Train, know, succeed."

That is to say when we train, we stack our capabilities. We'll know what to do when a situation manifests, we'll succeed because we've prepared ourselves for it. Knowing this, we relax.

So I made up the second flavor of relaxing, but there are ways to relax when riding - and those are the first two.
And wouldn't you know it - the way we relax is through breathing.

Think about what all these things have in common: working out, meditation, martial arts, aiming down range, anger management, the Wim Hoff Method. Regulated breathing are the precursor to all precise human activity. Any lack of breathing whether it's caused by or a result of anxiety, is going to affect our ability to relax.

Next time we're on our motorcycle; let us remind ourselves to breathe.
We must allow our body to tune in with the rhythm of the bike and that anxiety of riding in traffic will dissipate.

Braking in traffic
Another reason I feel as others do in traffic is when slowing & stopping.
Watching so many crash videos of people being run into from behind makes me caution who is in tow.

I tend to flash my brakes prior to and upon every stop, even if it's just waiting for traffic to pass by so I can make a turn.
This is why it's important to also check our lights every few months, to ensure they're working (brakes, turn signals).

The front brake lever is easy to activate the brake lights, but the rear brake lever may need to be adjusted to our preference.
Adjusting the rear brake lever will allow us to trigger the light without braking.

Refer to this thread on how to adjust rear brake light switch.

75 Posts
Maybe it is not as big a problem outside the US but in the first graphic that whole blind spot situation is caused by incorrectly adjusted mirrors. Maybe they should teach things like that when people are learning how to drive.

209 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Maybe it is not as big a problem outside the US but in the first graphic that whole blind spot situation is caused by incorrectly adjusted mirrors. Maybe they should teach things like that when people are learning how to drive.
You got me! I never thought much about how to adjust my side mirrors.
Surely I was never taught (and was mindless about) how to adjust side mirrors.

You make a good point on how people should learn, though the reality is, most people do not adjust side mirrors properly.
Another point is that some people don't even use their mirrors, and less, see motorcycles in tow.
And because of this, we must make up for the discrepancy by adapting how we ride.

By accepting the things we cannot change , we learn how to adapt.
How we do it is: avoid riding in the assumed blind spots & become aware of our surroundings.

Trying to fight against the way things are is a waste of energy and it can only ever lead to suffering. [We] find happiness by just accepting and working with those things that [we] cannot change.
10 Reasons...Serenity Prayer
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