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Tag: skills

Risky Business – Being Vigilant

RiskyBusinessRisky Business is a series of articles about mitigating risk for the motorcycle rider. I started this series years ago for Nashvilleriders.com but since I closed up that site I wanted to bring this content to Motorcycle Words.

The first in this series is Being Vigilant.

Vigilant is defined as “keenly watchful to detect danger; wary”. Sounds like something every motorcycle rider should be doing, but as there are so many potential dangers out there, where to begin?

Forget “The Force”

Despite Luke Skywalker’s success destroying a death star while keeping his eyes closed, your best way to spot and be aware of potential threats is to use your vision. This sounds a bit basic but I’m always surprised at how many drivers (and riders) out there seem to be using “The Force” to guide their vehicles down the road and not very well I might add. As a motorcycle rider one typically has an unobstructed view of the surroundings. In fact sitting on most sportbikes, sport-tourers, and standards can give riders a height advantage over most car drivers.  

Rider education courses point out it’s very important to be watching what’s happening down the road as far as you can. Being able to see farther ahead will help you prepare for sudden stops, debris, and other road hazards you might encounter. You can make it much easier to have a good vantage point by doing a few things such as:

  • Not all windows will be easy to see through.

    Not all windows will be easy to see through.

    Don’t ride behind large trucks and tractor trailers that block your view of the road ahead. Sure you can stop quicker than most trucks but if they crash into something  you may find yourself out of stopping room real fast.

  • Look through and past the front and rear windows of the vehicle(s) ahead of you. While it may not be that easy to see a lot of details you will most likely be able to see the brake lights of several of the cars in front of you through each vehicle’s front and rear glass.
  • Don’t tailgate. Sounds like a no-brainer to me but you really want to provide enough space between you and the car ahead of you to see and avoid an object such as a piece of tire carcass that wasn’t visible until after the car in front of you passed over it.

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Stuck at a Traffic Light, Try This

traffic-lightI’m sure this has happened to you. You’re out for a ride on a hot Sunday afternoon. The back-roads offered up plenty of fantastic twisty asphalt for your pleasure and you’re beat. You’re now plodding down the secondary roads and you come to a quiet intersection with a traffic light. As you sit there feeling the heat from your engine flow up around your legs, your mind starts mulling over the idea of just running the light.

I have found a very reliable method for triggering the sensors on traffic lights so that running through the red isn’t necessary. If you can spot the inductive loop sensor on the ground (a thin rubber strip making a box on the street) try to position your bike so that you can put your kickstand down right on the strip. Putting a steel kickstand down right on top of the inductive loop sensor is often enough to “trip” it to let the lights know you are there.

Want to know why this works? Read on…

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