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Advice appreciated (long-ish)

Discussion in 'Your Near Misses - A Place to Vent' started by NofC, Aug 24, 2011.

  1. DISCLAIMER - I ride a scooter. I accept that to many a 'scooter rider' is an oxymoron.

    I've lurked here for a while, and had an incident on the way to work this morning which has prompted me to join up. This actually isn't a vent so much as something I really need some more information on, so I'd be grateful for any responses. I had considered posting this in other parts of the forum but thought this would be the closest fit.

    For those who don't live in Sydney, there's a tangle of streets which feed in to the southern entrance of the Sydney Harbour Tunnel via Woolloomooloo. The state govt, in its wisdom, erected concrete lane dividers to stop people merging in to one another, or protect revenue for the tunnel, take your pick.

    I was coming along the left hand lane, which curves left along the base of a cliff near the Botanic Gardens, and has a lane divider on the right hand side which flows out from a concrete barrier which obscures the view of the middle lane up to a certain point - overall effect is like a wedge diminishing down to the 6 inch or so divider if that makes sense. I was doing 60 in the right hand track, as there's often water pools on the left track. I haven't previously considered that to be too high a speed, as I know that the lane sometimes floods on the left, and that speed leaves me time to slow down if it has. I also need to mention that this lane gets minimal traffic, even in peak periods, and I might find myself following someone along there maybe 1 in 3 times I use it.

    Anyway, as I entered the corner the first thing I saw was that traffic in the middle and right lanes were banked up. As I hit the mid-corner, I saw a bike tyre peeking out over the divider just behind the barrier. In the time it took me to recognise what was going on, the tyre grew in to a largish sports bike at right angle to the lane, covering the right track.

    I'm not certain how far away I was at this point, but I'd guess 20 metres at most, and possibly less than 15. I grabbed both brakes as best I could. I avoided locking the front but not the back, which spun the back end around to the right. I'm not sure if this was the right thing to do in the circumstances, but my recollection is that I turned in to the skid and eased off the back brake slightly, and that felt like it helped bring the scoot back straight, but at the cost of starting to wobble. It felt for a second as though I was going to high side, and something else I suspect was a bad idea, as the scoot started to wobble over to the left I kicked out my left foot and pushed myself back up straight.

    This was all enough to keep me upright -somehow- as by this point I was in the left hand track and finally coming to a stop. I have a vague recollection of passing the bike and coming to a stop a few more metres down the road. I'm not sure what the other guy was doing at this point as I was focussed entirely on keeping on the scooter. I think I managed somehow to manouvre around him but he may well have had presence of mind to turn his bike - not sure if he would have had time or not, but he may have. I do recall mentally tracking my speed as it reduced, and I also recall thinking that if I hit the bike I was going slow enough that I didn't feel like I was going to die. Whether that was true is a different issue.

    Credit to the guy, the moment I came to a complete stop he's rolled up alongside and apologised profusely. Sheepishly might be the word. Probably in his 30s from the look of him, and obviously looking to just jump over the divider and avoid the traffic. In his words, he checked first and the next thing he knew I came flying up. Problem there is that I came up in that split second or so his attention went back to getting his bike over the divider and in to the lane.

    In the end, I managed to avoid hitting anyone or coming off, which is a result I am glad to be able to live with.

    So, as best I can tell I made the following mistakes:

    Assuming road conditions -it never occurred to me that I would ever round the corner and find a bike blocking the line at right angles, since the dividers in theory prevent anyone from entering the lane from the middle

    Speed for the conditions - the fact that I was not able to bring the scooter to a complete stop before reaching the guy's bike means I was going too fast.

    Locking the rear - this is perhaps the hardest one for me, since I can't really think of any way, short of going slower, I could have been able to bring the scooter to a stop without grabbing a big hand of both brakes and doing my best to avoid locking them by releasing when I feel them begin to grab. I accept I may need remedial braking practice on this one. I accept that for at least a moment I stopped being a 'rider' and became a passenger, and that bothers the hell out of me.

    Hindsight suggests there was enough room to pass on the left without braking, but at the time I don't think I could reasonably have predicted his reaction or even if he'd seen me, which seems to me like too much of a gamble on someone else's response to a panic situation. In the same situation with my current experience behind me, I think braking was still the best move, I just needed to be going slower, but I'm open to suggestions.

    I just want to finish by saying I'm posting this having read some genuinely invaluable perspectives here from posters like Raven and Chef. It was a post I think in the newbie forum about watching the vanishing point, and then consciously practicing it, that gave me enough time to actually notice the wheel in the first place, so I owe you guys one already. And I will say that even though its only a scooter, I still try to ride it to the best of my ability, and I want that ability to keep improving.

    Funny thing is, I've felt like I dodged a bullet all day, and actually been incredibly calm about it all, even in the moments afterwards. It's only now that I'm writing this down I've begun to get the jitters.

    Thanks in advance for any contributions. Even those bagging me for riding a scooter, just make em funny. :)
  2. I read through all that and there wasn't even a smashed scooter at the end :(

    (good job on that one)
  3. I think I need a cup of tea, a bex and a good lye down after that.....

    glad your ok......
  4. How to avoid the problem.....upgrade to a bike!! haha. The only crash I've had was when my previous bike was out of action. Borrowed the better halfs scooter (first time), heading west along military road in the bus lane to hit the on-ramp towards the bridge when the lights changed to amber (its a slight bend to the lights on the intersection). On the bike I would have lent into the corner and carried on, but wasn't to keen on doing that on the scooter so decided to stop. Dropped from 50km down to 30km as part of coming to a stop when a taxi from the other lane came right across me and hit his brakes. I had to hit them hard to stop, didn't hit him but the scooter slid sideways as the back end went out and I came off, had it down to about 10km/h by then so not much damage to me but hell of a scape on the scooter (misses went mental!!). In reference to your rear end going I wonder if you were still in the process of cornering and if that contributed, as I felt it did in mine. Top it of the friggin taxi took off and blew the now red light anyway!!
  5. Glad you're all good bud.

    I love that stretch of road, just before those two little tunnels before the harbour tunnel, you can get some nice noises if you gun it :D

    And i don't judge scooter riders, i just think they should drink espresso and not latte.
  6. I'll second that!
  7. Hang on Chicken - you drink latte!
  8. But I don't ride a scooter so :p.... Lol
  9. Exactly, so she can drink double bourbon and nescafe if she likes :p
  10. Seriously ad91 it's double rums. ;)

    Sorry back on topic...
    • Like Like x 1
  11. Well done on staying upright. That's not a trivial task, under the circumstances. May I suggest you upgrade to a real bike in the not too distant future, as you obviously have the skills and the reflexes to ride one, we are always happy to welcome converts.

    And welcome to NR, NofC. Nice to have you here.
  12. Thank you all for responding. And the laughs, glad I could count on everyone for that :D Even if I don't actually like lattes (flat white or a long black for me).

    @mintox80 - that was exactly it, I was still cornering. I don't have a comparison point, but I'm reading you as saying that the weight balance in scooters v bikes means that a scooter is much more likely to respond that way in that sort of situation?

    One of the things I'm trying to figure out is what could I have done technically to keep more control of the scooter in that situation, so I can then drill the hell out of it until I get it right. I -suppose- buying a bike counts as a technical input...

    Used to love that little sweep, don't think I'll have quite the same attitude to it in future!

    @kneedragon - you're another one whose posts I've learned from, so cheers for helping me keep it upright :)
  13. Flat white and latte are the same thing, ones in a porcelain cup another is in a glass...

    A scooter rider through and through!!!!! :demon:
  14. One has less froth, and the other is a coffee. :wink: And I thought they were all served in plastic cups with lids, anyways? :angel:

    Froth actually pisses me off, unless it's on a :beer: :D
  15. My experience on scooters is fairly limited, but I think good ones are engineered to provide about the right brake balance if you apply equal pressure on both levers. So, that might be a 3kg squeeze on each side. The rear is usually a bit more powerful than the front, which is about right because most of the weight on a scooter is on the back wheel. If you try a 3kg squeeze on only one lever, you'll find with the rear only, you get quite a bit of stopping. If you apply the same pressure to the front, not terribly much happens. A tiny bit more pressure, and you can lock the front. It's not hard, and you still never get much in the way of braking performance. Use both together, with about the same pressure, and braking performance becomes quite acceptable. Not what I'd call good, but quite ok.
  16. This scooter rider is really a motorcyclist waiting to bust out :D
  17. Glad you both came out of it OK. I few near misses teach you some good lessons.

    And don't be ashamed or feel lesser for riding a scooter. Remember: it is not WHAT you ride, but THAT you ride, which counts.
  18. Well, braking is not always the best option, given that you could have avoided the situation all together by swerving.

    Always have a back up plan (way out) if things go pear shaped.

    The fact the you couldn't get the scoot stopped in time suggests you were travelling too fast for the conditions & backs up my first point. (Sounds like your braking technique could use some work too.)

    So: Practice some emergency stops. (Braking is most efficient just before the point of lock up, less so once the tyre is sliding!) & look for alternate routes.

    Welcome to Netrider, sorry about the scooter. :)
  19. Glad you stayed upright mate, well done. If you crashed then you probably would have caused a 5km long traffic jam! ha! I know that little piece of road very well. I always see riders going from the left hand lane across the divider to the middle lane to get into the tunnel but not the other way round as you have mentioned. And yes, there can be some serious puddlage at the low point there as well, during heavy rain there is a waterfall from the gardens running down the inside cliff face. It can be a bit dicey when you cut across the divider (left to middle) as cars can arrive in your mirrors quite quickly if they are flying up from the Eastern distributor tunnel heading north. The sports bike rider sounds like he took his sweet time getting across into the left lane, causing you to eBrake, but you did good to avoid a prang, and props to the other dude for apologising. See we're not all cvnts. he he he.. Now go and buy a Hyper-Motard so you can mount those curbs and farking lane dividers with ease!

    Cheers CIBBER

    P.S. Keep practising your braking and swerving, and ALWAYS have an out when riding in traffic, easier said than done in the case of riding next to those retarded lane dividers.
  20. Thanks guys - will try to reply to you all below.

    @kneedragon - acceptable seems about right. There is no physical way I think I could have come to a complete stop in that distance on that ride at that speed. So, less speed seems to be the right answer, along with drilling my ebraking until I've got the pressures for that ride perfect. Thanks. And just fyi, I've made myself only use the rear on its own when trailing, otherwise I use both brakes, just to try and give myself some good (scooter) habits.

    @chicken78 Oh, it will happen :) Might keep the scooter still though, it seems to have its place in some (traffic) conditions. Also open to changing my mind about that, too, though.

    @AussieRobin Well said, and noted, and thanks. :)

    @MV Thanks for the input, in complete agreement with you on all points. Except the bit about the scooter, I guess ;) Tbh, braking was probably a SR more than anything else.

    @99CIBBER Cheers mate :) I've seen someone change lanes like that once there, and at the time just shrugged and didn't store it as a fact. Helps reinforce that storing info like that is sooo important. I practice swerving on quieter times on the road by looking out for manholes etc (and pot holes, tar snakes etc etc etc) but that's just really a part of normal riding in Sydney, I think, trying to make sure nothing is going to screw with your contact patch - about right?. The rider was actually off the bike at the time btw, pushing it over, which might not have helped either of us in that situation, since it denied him a chance to ride out of danger too. On the subject of motards, and apologies for getting off topic, but I have the Triumph Tiger as a possibility for the future - if you're inclined to give me your thoughts, I'd be grateful, and could tell you a bit more about why.

    Thanks again, all. A nice welcome, indeed :)