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Slow "safe" riding on a busy freeway - NOT safe at all.

Discussion in 'New Riders and Riding Tips' at netrider.net.au started by robsalvv, Nov 16, 2010.

  1. Put up your hand if you think you're safe riding at a nice 'safe' speed well below the speed limit on a freeway while in the left lane??

    Put them down. You're WRONG!!!

    I was on the Westgate freeway the other night, in my cage. It was late and I was tired. Heading West, I just came out of the 80 zone after the bridge, but I had the cruise control engaged so was still at 80km/h. I was in the next to left lane but saw that the left lane was pretty much remaining at 80km/h while the other lanes had faster moving vehicles with some gaining on me directly behind, so I moved into the left lane. I was happy to sit on cruise in the left lane, with my brain disengaged as part of the apparently slower traffic.

    I noticed that cars up ahead started changing out of the lane and into the faster moving traffic - but I didn't think too much of it. Cars change lanes all the time... after half a dozen cars I noticed well up ahead a small single red weak brake light to the left of the left tyre track. In the dark and my distance I couldn't tell what vehicle it was, but my mind decided it was a car with the right tail light out and due to it's apparent size and strength, it seemed way way up ahead.

    I didn't register that I was gaining on the light - my brain was disengaged and I was happily cruising at 80km/h with no one behind me... then with something like 30 - 40m to go, something tugged at my mind about this light... with a start I realised that I was gaining on it at a rapid rate!

    Suddenly the vehicle loomed into my light throw and I spotted that it was a black motorcycle with a small weak rear light, with a rider wearing all black and riding much slower than me on the left of the left lane of a 100km/h freeway. WTF?! I was not alcohol addled and so was able to manage the situation and change lanes... but frankly, a more tired driver or one alcoholically influenced might not have realised the predicament until too late - with a tragic outcome for all concerned.

    In hindsight I can see this incident more clearly.

    The weak small light made the distance seem greater. The lack of visual perspective clues made and a tired brain made the distance seem greater lulling me into a false sense of security. In actual fact, the distance wasn't that great at all. Now layer over the top the fact that the rider created a strong differential speed by riding along slowly on a 100km/h freeway and the risk to the rider was pretty darn clear!

    I must have been bearing down on the rider at a scary rate but they hadn't even flinched. I would expect a proactive rider to move about in the lane, change lanes, flash their brake light, speed up or do something to address the risk coming up from behind... but this guy did nothing.

    Apart from the lesson for me the driver, I took several away as a roadcraft reminder for riders: DO NOT create a safety risk for yourself of a significant differential speed on a busy/main road or freeway. YOU might feel like you're managing your own personal risk by riding more slowly, but you have actually just created a major risk requiring all others to manage your slower speed. Keep an eye on your mirrors. Don't rely on other road users managing your safety for you.

    Everyone is out to get you.

    Here in endeth the sermon.
  2. Re: Slow "safe" riding on a busy freeway - NOT sfe at all.

    +1 Rob.

    Way back when, as a learner in the UK, I rode a Honda C90 Step-Thru. Tough little critter though it was, it was sloooooowww. Cruising speed (ie throttle on the stop :D) on the flat with no headwind was 47mph on the probably rather optimistic speedo. If a hill was steep enough to force a downchange in the 3-speed box, 30mph was your lot.

    In spite of this, I toured most of England and Wales on it, perfectly safely, by picking my routes carefully so that the general traffic speed was compatible with the Mighty 90.

    However, there were a number of occasions when I managed to either get lost or find myself on a road that had been upgraded since my map had been printed. Those occasions were some of the scariest times I've experienced on a bike.

    Being stuck on a fast dual carriageway, in the dark, with no turn offs, no emergency lane and 70mph trucks barelling up behind me with no intention to change lanes, then going past 50mm off my handlebar end was truly bowel loosening. It was even more fun when it happened in the wet. All I could do was keep my brake light lit, hope like hell everyone behind knew the width of their vehicle to a hair until I could escape at the next junction.

    As a result of those experiences, I still maintain that I've had more bad moments on two wheels from being too slow than too fast.

    So I fully agree that the safest speed in traffic is the speed of the traffic overall. In fact ISTR that there have been studies showing that, in traffic situations, it is increases in speed differential that increase your crash risk and not, as the Australian authorities would have it, increases in your absolute speed.
  3. Re: Slow "safe" riding on a busy freeway - NOT sfe at all.

    Actually, that really is an example of one of KL's 'silly mistakes' by a motorcyclist.
    But don't worry - if he gets killed it won't be his fault.
  4. Re: Slow "safe" riding on a busy freeway - NOT sfe at all.

    Truer words have never been spoken.
  5. Re: Slow "safe" riding on a busy freeway - NOT sfe at all.

    Good story Rob, I'm glad none of our namby pampy governments limit the speed of learner motorcyclists because... Oh wait... ](*,)
  6. Re: Slow "safe" riding on a busy freeway - NOT sfe at all.

    Yannow. I wish this speed differential talk had ever... ever... come up when I learned to drive (along with what to do if wheels lock up during braking). I was always that 10-or-more km under guy with a halo over his head (thanks Goofy). Not that you lot give me any excuse to repeat that~
  7. Re: Slow "safe" riding on a busy freeway - NOT sfe at all.

    Exactly this sort of situation is the one I dread when using roads with traffic speeds higher than my "P" plate notionally allows me to travel in NSW. Luckily enough the Gov't haven't mandated that the "P" (or "L") physically restrict the bike's top speed. :roll:

    Things I do...

    1. Travel at the posted speed limit or at the safe speed which is mandated by conditions, other traffic, etc...
    2. Keep a watch on what is happening all around but particularly be aware of what is "up the road" and not just in front, and also what is coming behind.
    3. Move about in the lane to ensure the eyes of drivers coming up on you are attracted to the movement.
    4. Maintain a three second gap to the vehicle in front
    5. Don't travel next to another vehicle - be behind or in front

    Have I forgotten anything else???

    Fun Ha!
  8. Re: Slow "safe" riding on a busy freeway - NOT sfe at all.

    You should also uses enough brake to bring on the brake light when engine braking and flash it when stopped at lights/intersections if there is no car pulled up behind you. Oh and watch the body language of drivers rather than just the car, it will often give you a heads up that they are about to do something stupid.
  9. Re: Slow "safe" riding on a busy freeway - NOT sfe at all.

    Come for a trip to NSW Rob.
    As an ex-Victorian I was rapidly introduced (pun not intended) to the speed limits applied to P platers when travelling down the freeway between Gosford and Sydney, the experience of which only served to reinforce my preconcieved theory.
    The F3 is, for the greater part, a three lane freeway with a 110 limit that carries all forms of vehicle from motorcycle to B-double with no real variation as per time of day so it's not unusal to see a heavy vehicle leap out the left lane to avoid a red P plater stuck on 90kmh while the traffic already in the middle lane is dodging the green P plater, limited to 100kmh, who's passing the aforementioned red P. It's literally and figutively an eye opener as it adds an unnecessary extra layer of risk to a journey and that's just the Monday to Friday to commute, the weekend heralds yet another moving speed hump in the form of 80kmh learner drivers and their frazzled parent instructor.
    Just as an observer alone I find it all quite frightening and have to say I'm exceedingly relieved that I don't have to do earn my license under this system, have to feel for my son though who is going through all this now.
  10. Re: Slow "safe" riding on a busy freeway - NOT sfe at all.

    Yeah, safest place on the freeway is a km/h or two faster than everyone else and in the far right lane.

    Minimises the chance of being rear-ended, no idiots surging across 5 lanes to get to the exit they've known about for the last 10 kms and/or 25 years, and people at least generally look for faster traffic when turning into the fast lane...usually...maybe.

    As for learner/probationary speed restrictions, they may as well just ban you from travelling on any road with a posted speed limit over the restricted speed. It'd be safer at least, if still idiotic.
  11. Re: Slow "safe" riding on a busy freeway - NOT sfe at all.

    A good reminder Rob and should also serve to remind people to look further out that just their bonnet. As far up the road as possible.

    Although not acceptable practice I can only assume the rider knew they were slow and were trying to leave enough room for traffic to split past. A tempory rider if thats the case but why else would anyone be in the left wheel track in the left lane?
  12. Re: Slow "safe" riding on a busy freeway - NOT sfe at all.

    Any sign of a "L' or 'P' plate? Indication of mechanical problem? Vintage bike? Scooter?
    None of these are in any way an excuse. (The plates would be, in NSW though, perhaps for discussion at the coroner's inquiry).
  13. Re: Slow "safe" riding on a busy freeway - NOT sfe at all.

    Mav an I travelled down the M4 last Friday heading down to the Homebush practice site. I counted 4 cars merging dangerously close to Mav and god knows how many tail gating me.

    The 80km limit is pathetically dangerous and should be phased out. Should L platers risk becoming a danger or should we break the law by 20km/h? From now on ill try to stick to 80km/h zones and or stick to a higher speed, far better than becoming another statistic.
  14. Re: Slow "safe" riding on a busy freeway - NOT sfe at all.

    I did a ride back from Kangaroo Valley about a month ago - the ride down was done very early, left Sydney at 6am but the ride back was early afternoon on a sunday...what a difference, was a brown trouser ride.

    Had one driver sit about 1 metre away from me until I slowed right down forcing her to pass.

    80ks on a motorway is bloody dangerous!
  15. Re: Slow "safe" riding on a busy freeway - NOT sfe at all.

    Im from the ACT which imposes no limits on L or P platers. HOWEVER should you travel over the border to NSW on your Ls you are speed restricted to 80kph.

    Can i say from experience that it is downright DANGEROUS to be doing that far under the speed limit on a busy single lane highway on a Sunday afternoon. Had I actually obeyed the rule im sure I wouldve been killed. Keeping up with traffic was a FAR safer option than being overtaken on single lane highway by the hundreds of cars returning from the coast.
  16. Re: Slow "safe" riding on a busy freeway - NOT sfe at all.

    Thats why I hate most bike speedos are out by 8km - 10km. Until you realise you are holding up traffic.
  17. Re: Slow "safe" riding on a busy freeway - NOT sfe at all.

    We did 160-170 on the way down to avoid this problem ;)

    Robsalvv: I've been in this exact situation, and it has now convinced me to get reflective tape on my helmet, shoulder pads and boots.
  18. Re: Slow "safe" riding on a busy freeway - NOT sfe at all.

    Heather rides at under the speed limit, simply because she is not a good enough rider to ride at the speed limits,
    Her L plate is clearly seen by any one following her,
    She has only done 2000 klms on her little cruiser. And thats all the riding she has ever done on a bike,
    Only the occasional Idiot trys to squeeze past her, She has to ride on the freeways and Highways as there are no other roads to ride on,

    The rest of the cars give her room and patiently wait till there is a passing lane before passing her,
    But unless she rides on these roads, she will never be good enough to ride on them.

    Its good that she gets out on her own, But as I am working, I cant follow along behind her as I usually do,
  19. Re: Slow "safe" riding on a busy freeway - NOT sfe at all.

    Good call. By trying to be sooooooo safe, slow and to the left, the rider had infact made themselves completely UNSAFE. I guess that's the point of posting this up. Apparently SAFE behaviour can kill you.

    No, No, No (older looking bike, GPZ900 possibly - hard to tell), No. From my vantage point there was no obvious external reason for the road position.

    Just as an aside, there have been a few times in my cage where I've come up behind a nervous nelly bike rider on the freeway and I've run interference for them. In my view, if you can't ride at freeway speeds, you shouldn't be on the freeway - jurisdictions like NSW that force a speed differential have got it utterly wrong.
  20. Hi there members.. Why don't some people get it are they really that stupid??! 1. Nearly collected a Subaru (stationary) on a 'onramp' attempting to merge with 60 - 70 km traffic? 2. Some people driving at 90km and as soon as they enter a dual lane or overtaking lane speed up to 105km. I never thought I'dd say this "POOR BLOODY TRUCKIES" they must be pulling their hair out. 3. Some people must think travelling in the right lane at 95 km is fun especially if they avoid looking in their rear vision mirrors. I'm convinced that most of these drivers got their license out o a Kellogs carton.