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Old 01-21-2009, 04:05 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Nemo Brinker View Post
Other than getting pulled over by overzealous LEOs for this behavior, can anyone think of a reason that it might not be a good idea? I have a certain amount of concern that if someone were to turn in my path anyway while I was in the midst of the back-and-forth, I might not be able to react as quickly.
My main concern is that it may delay the emergency stop reaction, and increase stopping distance. I'm pretty sure that I won't be able to stop the bike as quickly as if I was riding in a straight line.
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Old 01-21-2009, 04:25 PM   #17
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My main concern is that it may delay the emergency stop reaction, and increase stopping distance. I'm pretty sure that I won't be able to stop the bike as quickly as if I was riding in a straight line.
Is stopping in a straight line the best/only way to avoid a left turner? Also, how vigorous does the 'wiggle' need to be to get the cager's attention?
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Old 01-21-2009, 04:45 PM   #18
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Do the attention-getting swerve before you get to a point where you may need to brake. It's of most value further out when you're just a stationary dot in the visual background likely to go unnoticed.

At 40mph, you can brake to a stop in 130ft (1 second reaction time + good MSF-level brake application). That's just over 2 seconds travel time at 40--fairly close to the point of potential impact.

By the time you get to that point, you need to be positioned to give yourself adequate space cushion on the side of the threat, and you need to be covering the brake (see thread "Crashproof"). You also need to be watching the car's front wheel, looking for rotation--which will enable you to detect motion more easily than by watching the vehicle itself. You can't worry about making yourself visible.
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Old 01-21-2009, 05:46 PM   #19
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Is stopping in a straight line the best/only way to avoid a left turner? Also, how vigorous does the 'wiggle' need to be to get the cager's attention?
Certainly braking is not the only option. My concern more specifically is that the wiggle limits options and increases reaction time. If I'm at any point in the wiggle other than straight up and down, I must straighten the bike and correct my course before taking other actions: otherwise, I'll likely end up riding off the edge of the road or into another lane. That's great if it happens to be the correct avoidance maneuver, but I've found that I'm safest when I keep my escape options open.

Generally I counter steer in order to obtain a side to side wiggle within my own lane. It's a very similar maneuver to the one some riders use when attempting to "warm up their tires." The biggest difference is that lower counter steering pressure usually results in a slower, more relaxed swerve with reduced lean angles.
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Old 01-22-2009, 11:04 AM   #20
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What a GREAT thread. I'm forwarding the link to all my rider friends.

Another thing to contend with in regards to cars pulling in front is the issue of glare and the proximity of the sun to the horizon. Several years back I had the unfortunate experience of watching an older couple, driving towards the west in the late afternoon, pull directly into the path of an eastbound cycle. All conditions would have been considered perfect for riding; a beautiful fall afternoon. By the time I reached the downed rider the I could see he came out of the glare of the setting sun and was lost amongst the shadows of the trees in the background, as viewed from the perspective of the car. (The rider was HURT, but survived.)

This has made me extra-mindful of such issues. Coming out of shadows on a bright day and the effect of even a slightly dirty windshield preclude any assumption of my visibility to the oncoming car.

While I do things like flash my lights to cars that look like they might be turning, I also assume they might misunderstand that I am *acknowledging* their desire to turn.

In short, there is nothing that I can do to get me to relax when I see a car preparing to turn left (or emerge from a side street). I've had ppl make eye contact and STILL be surprised when I am sitting there at their drivers door waiting for them to finish their turn. Maintaining the mindset to always be ready take evasive action has saved my bacon on a number of occasions and it will always be part of my riding. Especially so when there is a vehicle that can move into my path without any apparent warning.

Be extra careful when the setting or rising sun is low and at your back.
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Old 01-22-2009, 12:03 PM   #21
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I do the wiggle-swerve about 10-12 carlengths back from the left turner. As i approach i decrease the severity of the wiggle...and usually time it so that i have enough space to make any adjustment if he/she comes out with braking or emergency manuevering.


This method...works. More riders should be using it along with riding with high beam on during daylight, just dont get complacent.
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Old 01-22-2009, 03:36 PM   #22
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As it attacks prey, a dragonfly hides itself by flying in a straight line directly toward the victim, so it looks like a stationary object in the background. The same effect can make a motorcycle go unnoticed in traffic.
Thank you for all of the useful bits of advice and information. I am so glad that you brought up these points. Thank you 4tuneit for the added input, it is all appreciated As a new rider I am always looking for all the information I can get.
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Old 01-22-2009, 05:09 PM   #23
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See and Be Seen--Part I

Here's a scary conclusion from Harry Hurt's study of motorcycle crashes: "The typical motorcycle accident allows the motorcyclist just less than 2 seconds to complete all collision avoidance action."

Sounds hopeless, doesn't it? You're riding along, taking reasonable care, when a hazard pops up out of nowhere, and 2 seconds later you're chewing the pavement. But that stat doesn't tell us how the rider got into a spot where the potential hazard went unseen until just 2 seconds before impact.

Another finding from Hurt suggests what leads up to that kind of situation: "The view of the motorcycle or the other vehicle involved in the accident is limited by glare or obstructed by other vehicles in almost half of the multiple vehicle accidents." And it's not just other vehicles. Terrain and fixed objects can also block sightlines.

That kind of left-turner crash--where the line of sight between driver and rider opens up too late for either one to do anything about it--is usually the fault of the driver. But to survive on a motorcycle, you have to be able to prevent crashes that aren't your fault. You have to be better than they are. You have to recognize situations where a hazard might lie just out of sight, and you must take action to see and be seen.

Here are some examples of situations where obstructed vision contributed to a motorcycle crash:
  • The driver of a log truck pulled out to make a left turn onto a state highway, but he couldn't see a motorcycle approaching from around a bend a few hundred feet down the road to his left. The rider was unable to stop and hit the rear of the trailer.

  • A transit bus in a medium-sized city began a left turn but couldn't see an approaching motorcycle as it navigated an odd S-shaped bend 100 yards from the intersection. The rider was unable to stop and hit the rear of the bus.

  • Stopped traffic in the left lane opened a gap to make room for an oncoming left-turner, but motorcyclist riding in the free-flowing right lane failed to see the turning vehicle.

  • One car turned left in front of an oncoming motorcycle safely, but cut it a bit close. A second car following right on the rear bumper of the first didn't see the motorcycle, and the two collided.

  • A pickup turned left in front of an oncoming motorcyclist, cutting it a bit close. The rider zigged left to slip past just behind the truck, intending to zag right and return to his lane. But he failed to notice that the pickup was towing a trailer, which he couldn't avoid.

  • A motorcyclist following several vehicles on a two-lane road was unable to see oncoming traffic due to his position in the right half of his lane. An oncoming driver intending to turn left after the line of traffic passed was unable to see the motorcycle and pulled out in front of it.

  • As a vehicle ahead slowed to turn left, a motorcyclist swerved right to go around it. But the rider was unable to see an oncoming left-turner, who couldn't see the motorcycle either and pulled out in front of it.

  • A vehicle ahead of a motorcycle one lane to the right slowed to turn right. As it did, a driver turning left from the cross street on the right pulled out in front of the motorcycle.
In upcoming posts, I'll cover a few of these examples in detail. The last scenario above is analyzed in the thread The Rolling Blind Spot.
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Old 01-24-2009, 11:25 AM   #24
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See and Be Seen--Part II

The safe stopping distance rule requires that you be able to stop in the distance you can see to be clear. Observing it can prevent left-turn crashes where the driver begins to turn before the motorcycle is even in sight.

While some left turn crashes happen because the driver turns when the motorcycle is in full view, in others terrain such as a curve or rise blocks the view to the motorcycle as the driver begins to turn. Responsibility for preventing incidents like that falls on the rider. And the way to prevent them is by following what the Brits call the safe stopping distance rule: Maintain speed that allows you to stop in the distance you can see to be clear.

If you would be unable to stop for something blocking the road just around a curve or over a crest, slow down. A good rule of thumb is to adjust speed so you have 4 seconds of clear road ahead. A post in the 1Rider thread Good Speed / Bad Speed explains the safe stopping distance rule in more detail.

An example of a crash due to excessive speed and an obstructed sightline occurred at the intersection seen in the attached photo. A motorcyclist traveling from left to right rounded the bend at the big tree just as a log truck began a left turn from the side road on the right. Unable to stop, the rider skidded and crashed before sliding into the truck.

As the rider passed the tree, the intersection and the truck would have been visible 250 feet ahead. Even if the motorcycle had been doing the posted limit of 35mph, the truck could have entered the intersection when the motorcycle was still out of sight around the curve and not cleared the oncoming lane before the motorcycle arrived. At the speed limit the rider would still have plenty of distance to slow or stop to prevent a crash, but due to excessive speed he couldn't stop and collided with the truck.


A crash with an unseen left-turner is an easy one to avoid--just make sure your speed gives you 4 seconds of clear roadway ahead.
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Old 01-24-2009, 01:13 PM   #25
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What you say Dan, is absolutely true, (ie. the vanishing point idea).

Truth be told, I really try to do that but every once in a while you'll come around a blind turn on a relatively unfamiliar road, maybe just doing 20mph and bam, there's a driveway on your right and in your helmet you say, "damn, I shoulda been going much slower...the resident coulda been pulling their boat into that freaking driveway...think...think...think dummy!"

I know, first sign of madness to talk to yourself, but I do it all the time on the bikes.

Obviously I'll never be a perfect rider...but I keep trying to improve and I think I have in the 36 years since I started, but every ride is another learning experience for me.

Keep the rubber side down folks.
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Old 01-25-2009, 05:18 PM   #26
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See and Be Seen--Part III

You seem to be protected from crossing traffic by a slow-moving, tightly spaced adjacent lane. But a gap in that line of defense can expose you to serious danger.

My last post was about views blocked by terrain. A hill or curve lies between you and a vehicle about to cross your path, and you must keep your speed down to be able to respond when the threat comes into view. But more often, a sightline is blocked by a vehicle in between you and another vehicle that is about to cross your path. The Rolling Blind Spot, described in its own 1Rider thread, is an example of that. Another occurs when a vehicle sneaks through a gap in stopped traffic in an adjacent lane.

Eastbound on the road seen in the attached photo, a motorcyclist in the right lane passes a line of eastbound traffic in the left lane waiting to turn left on the road at upper right. At the same time, a westbound car is trying to get to the gas station at the bottom of the photo. A driver in the left-turn line opens a gap, giving the car room to turn. It crosses the eastbound lanes in front of the motorcyclist, who has no time to stop and T-bones the car.

In a similar incident in Palo Alto, a motorcyclist tried to bypass stopped traffic on University Avenue by riding in the bicycle lane. Again, a driver opened a gap for an oncoming left-turner, who collided with the motorcyclist. This kind of crash can also happen while splitting lanes in city traffic. When stopped traffic leaves an intersection open (as the law requires), a lane-splitter who pops out suddenly from between the stopped lanes can be flattened by a crossing vehicle whose driver didn't see the rider until it was too late. A pedestrian or bicyclist could also surprise you, and they can emerge from a much smaller gap.

When riding alongside a slow or stopped traffic lane:
  • Keep the speed difference down. When nearby traffic is moving slowly or is stopped, slow down. At 30 mph over the speed of the slow-moving traffic, you'll pass 2 cars a second. At 15 mph over, you'll pass 1 car a second. Consider the time and stopping distance you need to react to a hazard emerging from that lane.

  • Create a space cushion between you and the slower traffic. Distance is reaction time. By positioning yourself on the opposite side of the lane, you gain an extra 12 feet between yourself and an emerging hazard. But lateral spacing does something else, too. The farther you are from the slow-moving lane, the better you can see into the gaps--and the better someone in the gap can see you.

  • Look beyond the adjacent lane to anticipate incursions. This is especially important when you see a gap. When traffic is stacked bumper to bumper, you don't have to worry about a vehicle crossing your path, but if you see a car-width gap, be extra wary and look for crossing or turning traffic that might interfere with you.

No one ever told you riding a motorcycle would be easy (or if they did, they were probably trying to sell you one). And it's hardest when you have to deal with traffic. You're a cheetah in a herd of hippos. Sure, you're faster than they are, but speed isn't going to save you when you're surrounded. It's your eyes, your brain, and your maneuverability that will get you through the chaos safely.
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Old 01-27-2009, 08:00 AM   #27
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I flash my headlight off and on if I think there is any chance of an "incident", and slow down as well.
Flashing your lights may mean something "else" to the driver you are signalling. Not every driver will interpret this signal as you intended it.

It will increase your chances of being noticed, but could be mis-interpreted to mean "Your turn to go".
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Old 01-27-2009, 12:50 PM   #28
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Here's a scary conclusion from Harry Hurt's study of motorcycle crashes: "The typical motorcycle accident allows the motorcyclist just less than 2 seconds to complete all collision avoidance action."
This fact alone seems to underscore the importance of drilling emergency maneuvers (max-effort braking and max-effort swerving, in the case of avoiding a left-turning car) until they're the reactions that come out of your body without thought. 2 seconds doesn't seem to be enough to plan and execute an avoidance maneuver--it seems barely enough to RECOGNIZE and execute an avoidance maneuver.

Man, I need to sign up for that Alameda County Sheriff's course again sometime this year.
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Old 01-27-2009, 02:11 PM   #29
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Man, I need to sign up for that Alameda County Sheriff's course again sometime this year.
Me too! Though it will be my first time. It looks like it restarts in March, the last time I checked.
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Old 01-27-2009, 10:06 PM   #30
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So a completely different scenario, I almost took him out yesterday. I am the left turner in my cage (with the "Watch for Motorcycles" sticker.)
Light turns green I have weak turn signals on account of MF stealing the lights out of the car. I am giving a hand signal. MC coming straight at me left turn signal blinking away. Essentially we are both going to turn left but that creepy little 6th sense engages. I slow, he slows, I'm committed in the intersection begin the turn and he swerves in front of me yells "STUPID BITCH" as he proceeds straight.
Had I not hesitated I would have nailed him.
DO NOT GIVE CARS MIXED SIGNALS!!!! If you think you might get hit take the stern not the bow you have a fare likelier chance of avoiding the incident.
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