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Does filtering reduce rear end risk, but increase SMIDSY risk?

Discussion in 'General Motorcycling Discussion' started by Unconnected, May 10, 2012.

  1. I was doing some thinking the other day, we all know filtering not only saves us and everybody else time, but also lowers your chances of getting rear ended.

    However, when we take off from the lights at the head of the pack do we expose ourselves to increased SMIDSY risk. Consider riding on a typical 6 lane suburban arterial road road with parked cars and side streets all over the place.

    If you filter and take off from the lights ahead of the pack, and build up a nice buffer between you and them, you effectively become the only thing on the road and a very small one at that. In my personal experience, situations such as these often are perfect conditions for a smidsy incident, often from a side street or drive way with parked cars obscuring vision.

    Clearly there is a trade off, i think its an interesting question. Which is the better option.
  2. Just one point of consideration. Far from a complete answer.

    A SMIDSY can often be spotted beforehand and predicted, therefore there is at least an opportunity to take some evasive action.

    With getting slammed up the jaxie, if you are exceptionally lucky you may hear a half second of screaming rubber in order to prepare to kiss your butt goodbye... If you can successfully dig it out from the grill of the 4x4 that just ruined your day.
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  3. easy...filtering is the better option...as you'll have the space to safely perform any maneuver to avoid said accident - if you get hit - there's a good chance you weren't paying enough attention. even at high speed on a multi-lane road..you stick to the middle lane to give yourself a buffer and can continuously rate potential risk's as they present themselve's and ride accordingly.
  4. well if you get out in front, and you feel vulnerable to smidsy's, then take precautions, and you have the whole road at you disposal.
    I'll go for space every time.
    And I nearly always filter, rather sit like a target at the back of the pack
  5. You are correct about being the only thing on the road and bikes can get lost to motorists when they re concentrating on "the pack" but the bonus it offers you is unimpaired vision of what's happening around you.

    You are in an almost perfect position to spot the dangers and set yourself accordingly.
  6. I had a pretty long discussion with my missus about this exact thing last night, we were talking about SMIDSY's, and she recalled the one time she has come close to hitting a rider (she is a very cautious, observant driver, and I am picky as hell with that sort of thing).

    She was turning right in the city somewhere a few months ago, and thought she'd had a good check for oncoming traffic (none in the immediate oncoming zone) pedestrians and trams and the zillion other things to look for, and just as she was going to turn, a rider "came out of nowhere" on the oncoming road.
    She said she didn't see him because he had black gear on with a dark background and was "speeding" in her words, and when she'd checked a second ago he was out of her immediate field of attention.

    She held off the turn till he went through, so not even approashing a close call, but she remembers it because she had looked specifically for oncoming traffic and not noticed a rider till he was nearly into the intersection.

    I though this was an excellent anecdote for this post, as she is a pretty good example of someone who is well trained, concious of her surroundings and supportive of a rider (me!) who still missed a rider in her clear field of vision coming into an intersection as described in the OP.

    It highlights again the importance of riding defensively, even when cagers aren't maliciously trying to smash you or are concentrating on phones, waving their arms around talking or kids on the backseat of whatever, we're just one thing on the long list of stuff not to bump in to, but we are more vulnerable than most.

    I would my traffic riding style "aggressivly cautious", in that I think the bigger the air buffer between me and everything else the better. I filter heavily, more-so at night and in peakhour traffic, I go pretty hard out of the lights to put a gap between me and the cages behind and I will use my whole lane to maximise visibility and safety space, especially near side streets and intersections.
  7. Definitely a trade off when we filter but as others are saying, one we can have better control over with a bit of smarts. I always feel more comfort when my safety is in my hands rather than leaving it up others so I'm drawn to filtering rather than sitting around hoping.

    A greater risk of SMIDSY when filtering comes from passing through the clear way zones adjacent to side streets and driveways. They're a hot spot because cagers will cut across them from both directions without expecting or looking for us coming down between the cars.
  8. Filter then ride at 60kmh, apparently you are invincible as long as you are going the speed limit.

    In all seriousness, filter then ride with caution, if you cover your brakes and weave in the lane you are much less likely to be smidsy'd. Having more room is better not worse though as you have options,
  9. I'd have to agree being out there in the clear air is the best way to be, and if it takes filtering to GET to that clear air, then the slight risk of filtering outweighs the greater risk of being mired in traffic.

    I DO think, however, that mahoney restates the point that I have often made that a SMIDSY can be the result of US being somewhere where the drivers don't expect us to be and I think that relates to speed differential. Motorists expect all traffic to be travelling at somewhat like the same speed, and adjust their expectations accordingly. If they check their mirrors and we're not there, and then we arrive at half their speed again, and they move over......
    I know that doesn't cover every single scenario, but I do believe that our tremendous mobility and ability to get into and out of gaps and places quickly is often our own worst enemy...
  10. If you sit in traffic you get sideswiped or rear ended.
    If you sit out the front you get cut off.
    I'll take the front on attack rather then the sabotage from behind.
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  11. I'd rather take a nudge from the side than a smack from the back.
  12. I was thinking about it also, but was more concerned with cars who would move to either block you off or make it clear they want the lane beside them, potentially causing a crash in the middle of the traffic. I've seen heaps of cars do this, when bikes weren't filtering, but I'd dread to imagine what would happen if someone was going down there.

    Just a side note, I was rear-ended by a car that was travelling at 60 (I was stationary waiting to make a right-hand turn). I saw it in my mirror a split-second before it happened, but I didnt come out of it too badly I reckon. It was only a station wagon, not a 4WD or truck, which definitely would've made a mess. I guess my point is, one shouldn't only worry about being rear-ended at traffic lights - no amount of aggressive riding or buffering would've prevented it.
  13. Ok, so Unconnected, to avoid the possibility of "ahead of the pack" SMIDSY, the alternative is to not filter. That means you remain in the column/queue of vehicles.

    Which is the bigger risk? What are the risks now?

    Rear ending is one. The nose to tail collision is a very common accident type. Injury is very likely.

    Another is the merge SMIDSY. Since you're in the queue, you break up the wall/line of cars. This will look like a gap to a driver who starts to merge after a half baked head/mirror check. It's not a gap though. Luckily, in most cases you will make a successful evasive move or the driver will correct their error. Potential for a bad day is high though.

    For me, it's a no brainer: filter and get out front. To my mind, if you don't have to worry about or manage the cars around you, you have more of your mental energies available to look for and avoid the possible R.O.W. violations ahead of you.

    If you really feel the "ahead of the pack" SMIDSY is a real risk, then develop a strategy to manage it. What can you do about the risk you perceive?
    • Like Like x 3
  14. It's all about how many options you've got IMO. Out the front, you've got many; hemmed in by cars you've got none.
    Mahoney's example goes to show that it will always be up to riders to control their own road environment. His missus didn't see the bike, but I'll bet the rider saw her.
  15. If you are worried about another SMIDSY from a side street or driveway after you are ahead of the pack...why not do slaloms in your lane? I have had cars crawl to a stop line with no signs of stopping, you can see the car just jerk to a stop once I do a slalom in my lane...they just stare at you like you were just hooning which is a bit odd. The amount of times that cars come out at me, while I decide to be a law abiding citizen because I am last in the pack is astonishing. Worse still, I'm in the middle of the pack in the left lane on a 3 lane road (pretty sure Wellington Rd heading to Mt.Dandenong)...pack of cars behind me indicate to turn into a side street (usual short cut to avoid traffic lights), the car coming out of the side street tries to plow me over because supposedly I was hiding...WTF? Funny thing, the idiot got hit from behind by another idiot...because they both didn't see me...retard much?
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  16. And then you have the real risk of freezing your nuts off and dying of boredom while you sit in walking pace peak hour traffic pretending to be a car...

    (sorry rob, great post as always but I couldn't miss that one! \\:D/ )
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  17. TBH, like others here, I consider any increased risk of SMIDSY 'cos you're alone on the road (and I'm sceptical that there is an increased risk) to be negligble compared to the truly enormous advantages of not being trapped amongst a ponderously stampeding herd of blind elephants.

    OTOH, there is, IMHO a slightly increased risk of a number of kinds of SMIDSY whilst you are actually filtering. Chef mentioned the situation of popping out from between lines of cars into the gap at a junction. It's worth being very cautious here. I'll often stop, or nearly so, until I've properly assessed the situation, allowed any waiting cars to see me, let them cross if convenient (no skin off my nose, given how much time I can make up simply because I filter) and decided it's safe to continue.

    The other situation is when pedestrians and cyclists assume that 'cos the cars have stopped, everything has stopped and make a headless chicken dash across multiple lanes. It's well worth looking for them a long way ahead, and avoiding passing large vehicles which obscure your view at any great speed. I had a good one the other day with a bloke strolling merrily along the "motorcycle lane" ahead of me, earphones plugged in and completely oblivious to my presence until I was right behind him.

    The only time I've come close to a serious incident while filtering was many years ago when I torpedoed a cyclist who darted across without looking. I wasn't travelling fast, but MZ brakes ensured that I hit him smack in the derailleurs. We both stayed upright and there was no damage but it shook us both. You'd think that a cyclist would be aware of the possibility of small, nimble vehicles making progress but apparently not. Mind you, because this was the UK, which recognises filtering as legitimate, I'd have probably found myself legally in the right.
  18. I would have to disagree entirely with the assumption that you are more at risk of a SMIDSY if you are on your own.

    Cars can conceal you compleatly, and while if you are in the middle of a lot of traffic you are safe because they will see the other cars, if you are at the tail of a block or you are on a single lane your risk is heightened.

    Think about this scenario. Riding in a line of traffic on a single lane of traffic. You have a safe gap in front and the driver behind (amazingly) is leaving a safe gap. There is a driver waiting to turn right from the opposite side of the road. 2 safe gaps = 1 safe turning accross traffic gap. If you are at all concealed by the car in front you could very easily get missed. The driver is also going to rush the decision to go because if they hesitate they can't. I would far rather come to this scenario completely on my own then anywhere near a car.
  19. I am very new to filtering and only just now starting to do it as my ability to judge when to do it develops. IE when did the light go red? Do I have time to get to the front before it changes? Is there enough room between the cars? etc

    In the mean time I am a bit stuck in traffic so what I have been doing is using the cars as protection. See a car wanting to turn right across my path, get a car between me and it. Cars coming out of left hand side street get a car between them and me or be right on the back of the car in front of me so I have become one with him - (sorry bit zen)

    To sum up sort of like playing frogger in the traffic, leaping from one safe spot to another and using the speed I am traveling at to give me buffer room. Note sometimes this may be slower than the car in front of me.
  20. good responses, i think i should make it clear that i was not so much asking what i should do but what you would do and if you had considered or noticed that filtering and taking off from the lights could potentially increase your risk to the smidsy.

    Personally i filter everywhere even when not strictly necessary and cannot resist leaving most lights with a bit more twist of the wrist.

    It is a good point that i had not considered that getting rear ended often leaves you no time to react, but i find that after a few close calls one is able to smell a smidsy from a mile away and often can employ a number of counter measures such as the weave, which in my experience scares the shit out of most of the cagers and gets them to back off, as they think your about to crash anyway.