Wednesday 17 March 2010

Survival tips

The best two days I have ever spent on training course were those dedicated to getting my motorcycle license. The Stay Upright course was excellent - and everyone that wants any form of drivers license should have to do it, regardless of whether they want to ride a motorbike or not. It was an excellent education in how to stay alive on the roads.

Bikes and motorbikes both suffer from similar problems on the road - many drivers have a blind spot when it comes to seeing us. We can be right in front of them, yet their brain doesn't register our existence. We both need to ride where we can be seen, and be always prepared to hit the anchors. We need to expect that every car driver is about to do something incredibly stupid and kill us.

This clip is a quick example of riding to be seen. The local council has kindly put a bike lane in down the side of the road, but sticking to it could be fatal at times. Riding too close to parked cars cuts off your sight lines, and the sight lines of drivers pulling out of driveways or side streets. Which is what happened here. As soon as I saw a car nosing out, I checked that there was nothing behind me and then got way the hell out into the middle of the road, making sure that the driver could see me. I had both hands hovering over the brake levers, ready to slam them on if I got the feeling that he hadn't seen me, and was going to pull out. That didn't happen - I got out from behind the parked cars and into his sight line, and all was well.

Some drivers go ape when a cyclist does something like this and pulls out to dominate the lane. Well, that's just tough shit. I have seen what happens when cyclist hits car, and experienced it myself, and I am determined not to let that happen again. If that means holding up traffic for 5 seconds, so be it. And if you don't like it, you are free to step out of your car and discuss the situation with me man to man. Except every agro driver I have ever encountered is too chickenshit to do that - they're very brave and angry when cocooned in steel, but very wet and apologetic face to face.

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