Welcome to Netrider ... Connecting Riders!

Interested in talking motorbikes with a terrific community of riders?
Signup (it's quick and free) to join the discussions and access the full suite of tools and information that Netrider has to offer.

Road positioning for hazards question

Discussion in 'New Riders and Riding Tips' started by Mr Messy, Sep 24, 2010.

  1. Hi guys :D been gone for nearly a week... it happens when the mrs comes back from 6 weeks away and is all nice and tanned :p.

    Anyway, request for a bit of a write up please - rob, im looking at you :p. Perhaps an addition to the Noob 101s? At the least id like to hear a little more discussion on the topic. (P.S. I did search but 99% of what i found was cornering related).

    Nutshell: A bit of a guideline on the difference between riding defensively (eg, buffering away from hazards etc), and 'owning your lane' (eg, making yourself more visible).

    What prompts me to ask is, ive been on the bike now for 10 months, and done nearly 20000km, and over the last say... 3-4 months, ive noticed my riding technique changing from blindly buffering away from hazards, to more positioning myself so in certain situations i look just like a car (sorta :p). It has been a conscious thought to do it at first, but now i do it automatically and ive found the near misses are far far less.

    Pretend for a moment that the following example is in medium - heavy traffic, and maintaining a decent gap is fairly impossible if you ever want to get where you are going.
    A car at a T intersection ahead, wanting to join the traffic on the main road im on. Once upon a time i would buffer away as our lovely L and P courses in NSW (and likely elsewhere) teach us... Unfortunately that just hides me behind the car in front of me and nearly guarantees the car wanting onto the main road will pull out. Nowadays i find ill sit to the left where, to all intents and purposes, i look like the side of a car, which is what that driver is looking for. I will, of course, still remain vigilant in case the car still comes out.

    Thats just one example, but probably the easiest to write out :p.

    Im curious to know what some far more experienced types do as far as your general road positioning, as sure, moving away from a potential hazard is nice, but preventing a hazard seems like an equally useful technique to focus on once you have a enough confidence on your wheels.

    Heres hoping that makes some sort of sense... and that im not 200% wrong? :D.
  2. Bit fuzzy there,
    Sit behind the car in front at a safe distance, about 4 bike lengths back from the car, Sit in the right hand wheel track of the car in front.
    If the car stops suddenly, Seized motor, or really stands on the brakes. you just lean your bike a bit and slip past the car on the right hand side, thats if you cant stop, Your 2 feet wide, most gaps are at least 3 feet wide from the car in front of you and cars coming the other way or cars going in the same direction as you.

    Your permanently invisible to all car drivers, never forget this. it will save your life.

    Best bet is not to travel in a group of cars, ride out by your self away from every thing.

    Slow down if you have to, but maintain a good gap from cars and trucks.

    Hope this helps you,
  3. I don't think I really understand the bit about buffering and hiding.

    Roadcraft is about using all available tricks, techniques, strategies to ensure that you're either seen when you need to be, maximising your survival and reaction space, predicting traffic behaviour and responding accordingly, all the while having a presence on the road to reduce your chance of being ignored.

    In peak hour, if I'm beside a car, I'll try to be level with the driver's or passenger's window - they'll have to be ignoring me to merge on me. Otherwise I'll try to be ahead of the knot of cars, or well behind.

    I try to be seen and when not splitting, I try to be where lazy drivers might expect me to be, or I'm never where lazy drivers might hit me.

    Roadcraft is all about space, managing, creating, protecting and finding it.

    In suburbia, I'm well aware of "vision shadows" - which means I'm aware of anything that blocks another car's view of me and ride accordingly - hell, they don't see me when I'm in plain site!

    I weave, flash headlights, flash rear brake light, ride a gear or two down to make noise, slow from miles back heading to lights to manage the car behind me to a stop on my terms, I accelerate hard when I need to, I use body language, gesticulate, smile, wave at kids in the back seat... basically, I'm using every trick I have at my disposal to ensure that when I'm on the road I'm proactive and not relying on the other road users for my safety.

    I don't know whether that answers your question?
  4. I think what MM is saying regarding buffering and hiding is, for example:
    Imagine you are travelling in the right wheel track in medium/heavy traffic and and a car is looking to turn into your lane from the right hand side street. L and P courses teach us to create a buffer by moving to the middle/left hand section of your lane but by doing this the car turning into you lane may not see you because the car in front of you is blocking its view of you. ie you are essentially 'hiding' behind the car in front. So how do you wiegh up creating a safe buffer but also remain visible
  5. I call that a vision shadow and I ride with extreme prejudice in a moment like that - usually brakes covered, responsive gear, head on a swivel. I've even been known to stand up on the bike and look over the roof of the car blocking me from being seen so that I can spot the other driver.
  6. For situations like this I DO stay on the side of the car coming out but at the last second swap tracks. If they see a gap in the row of headlights they're likely to pull out in front of you which buffering won't always help with if they gun it.

    Another situation: you're merging into a single lane of traffic which continues in the RIGHT lane. I usually merge and then stay in the left track of the right hand lane but keep a close eye on what's behind me as well as what's going on in front of me (don't want to be looking in my mirrors then slam into the back of a car when they slam their brakes on when Mr. Red P plater in riced up Lancer tries to merge).

    How do you guys approach that situation?
  7. with confidence. Forethought rates a lot in your road safety. You can always escape down the shoulder. I Normally, make sure I Have my position worked out and merge as the lane ends, if the traffic is heavy. Normally at about 9-10k revs, so Very noisy. Being in the right Gear(not clothes) helps as well. If your piddling in in 5th or 6th, you haven't got the ability to Bolt out of trouble. Especially on a 250 like me.

    Some people encourage riding like everyone is out to get you, but I prefer the thought that "Everyone else can kill you".

    Robs, standing in the pegs to get a better view is a great tip.

    If I am coming up to a car turning in from the left I start out in the right hand track and move back to the middle track. For Me in that situation, the idea I can either go left, and away behind a moving danger, or right, in front of the person that hasn't seen you. By the time your on the horn after making your escape Everyone knows your there.

    Buffering will only help to save your life, it won't do it on it's own.

    omg bed time :eek:
  8. ...THAT is a very ****ing good answer (y)
  9. I must admit, I'm very aggressive in my lane positioning, i don't buffer until the very last minute, before that I'm agressively making myself visible, if I'm plodding along in the right track and a car comes up to the left to turn out in front of me I'll swing over to the left with a loud twist of the throttle and make them aware, body language is aggressive, which stems automatically from the snarl I'm giving the cagers under my lid while muttering this is my road biatch, don't even think about it.
  10. Yeah that pretty well covers what i was asking.
    I was curious with what you guys would call a 'proper' technique dealing with that sort of situation.
    Certainly i try and keep myself visible as much as possible, not riding too close to the vehicle ahead etc etc.

    Yeah rob i hear you mate, few times every week some cager will cut me off or come out of a side street with a mere glance in the oncoming traffic's (me :p) direction.

    I figure im better positioned to ask questions now, rather then just getting on the bike for the first time, as i have been developing my roadcraft fairly well im my humble opinion :p, but my habits arent yet set in stone ;) so im always looking for advice on how i can improve wherever i can.

    edit: How about that then rob, a bit of something about what you call vision shadows ;).
  11. i'm the same.
    i get in their face, then i dance out of the way as i pass them.
    it's a bit of a practice reaction too, if they were to pull out, i've conditioned my reaction.
    having a ****ing big loud bike helps too.
    i don't just mutter under my lid "this is my road biatch, don't even think about it."
    I send it to them too, with telepathy... sometimes i flip em the bird too, as i dance away playfully, after comming in hard and mean at them... that's just really cos i hate cars and have a lot of built up angst for them, from too many near misses and one hit.
  12. NONE of that is meant as advice for the novice rider btw.
    there is a big diference beween owning your lane on any bike and owning your lane in a big feral looking 4wd with a bull bar... ones bluffing.
    i really think novice riders should ride in a purely defensive manner, mainly because the machines they are restricted to are very limmited as to how quickly they can evade, or brake, or power out of a tight situation.
  13. I hear you there monkeyman, its one reason i wish i had looked larger then a 250 for learning on, is to give a little more power while at speed. That said i do like my bike, its been very forgiving with me fortunately :D, im looking after it, and its looking after me...
  14. 47 years of riding, I still ride defensively and aggressivly at the same time.
    Putting your self out of harms way will come automatically after you have been riding a while.
    Its called experience. and you only get it from miles under your bum, Lots of them.
    Irrespective of the power of the machine you ride.