Watch Out For Motorcycles

MotorcycleWith good weather returning, I wonder if you could remind everyone that there are more motorcylists on the road. We all need to check around extra carefully because bikers are more vulnerable and easy to miss. I'm writing this to you now because riding my Burgman this morning on my way to work, a driver swung across three lanes of traffic (from the right to the left) without doing a proper check and I had to lock my brakes to avoid getting hit by her.

This is a very interesting topic because of the way a driver perceives a motorcycle. It may be visible to them, meaning that if they look for it, they will see it. However the motorcycle may not be conspicuous to the driver, which is a combination of being visible and being perceived, giving the brain something to act on.

Conspicuous motorcycles are under represented in crashes, so being conspicuous could be a good thing for a rider. Currently, any motorcycle built in 1975 or newer and operated in British Columbia must have a headlight that lights and stays lit when the motor is running. In addition, motorcycles are permitted a modulating headlight, or one that flickers visibly to draw a driver's attention.

Large, brightly coloured fairings and fluorescent or reflective riding gear will also enhance conspicuity. Choosing a colour for fashion rather than it's ability to stand out could create problems for a rider. Dark leathers and helmets blend in with the surroundings and are over represented in right of way violation crashes.

Never take a position in traffic that will obscure you from other traffic. Following too closely or following behind large vehicles can make you invisible to other drivers. Once you become visible and the driver perceives you, it could be too late to avoid a collision.

Finally, control your lane. The rider is entitled to the full lane width just like any other vehicle. Taking a position in the left hand half of the lane discourages drivers from passing by because you are using that space. Consider making your right turn from here instead of moving next to the curb. The law on right turns requires that you be as close to the curb or edge of the roadway as is practical, not that you must be on the right in all circumstances.


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