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Andy VH
Where is the earth shattering kaboom!?



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   Posted 9/28/2011 11:25 AM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
I had a fellow MSF instructor comment to me that on the road I appear to have excellant situational awareness, a fancy way to say I "see the big picture and all the details in it". Other people riding with me in my car have said, "how did you know that car was going to do that?" Or they comment I always seem to see things before they happen. Cool to get compliments like that, but I think anyone can be just as good and a lot better than that.
 
Maybe 40 years of street riding has honed my awareness skills to a fine level. But I do think two things in particular have helped my awareness more than anything else: Eyes and how I use them (like where I am looking), and Distance or Space Cushion, the distance I strive to maintain between me and other road users.
 
Eyes: where you look, what you look for, how long you long (or don't look), scanning, searching, looking for oddities, looking for danger signals, looking for anything "not right in your gut feeling (which is usually right), a "sense" of space, watch for traffic trends, watching for road users not blending in to traffic, and much more. These are all factors of using your eyes and vision as THE factor to improve your riding. Get your head/eyes UP and LOOKING all the time. No need to look down around the bike, because effective looking/searching/scanning takes care of everything around you at that moment, before you got there. Your peripheral vision takes care of the rest once you got "there" in the area you already scanned.
 
Space Cushion/Distance: Along with your eyes and effective scanning, distance and space makes a HUGE difference. Being far enough back from other traffic allows you to see trends, actions, oddities, you can see things develop and become an issue or resolve into a clear path before you get to them, giving you time to adjust speed/position to adapt with a planned action rather than a panic response. So MANY MANY riders follow traffic WAY too close, far closer than allows them to see anything developing or happening. As a result, all they can do is "panic react". Recall how often you hear someone say the car was "suddenly" there, when they are reporting a close call? Well, that close call they put the car driver at fault for, was as much THEIR OWN FAULT because they were likely not far enough back to see it happen. The MSF guidelines of Minimum 2-second following distance, 4-second Immediate Path of Travel, and 12-second Scanning distance really do make a huge differnce in your riding.  
 
If you want to improve your traffic riding, and develop better situational awareness, GET YOUR EYES UP AND LOOKING/SCANNING, creat a LOT more SPACE CUSION/DISTANCE than you think you need or have. If you do these two things I garauntee your riding in traffic will become much less stressful, with far fewer close calls and issues with other traffic. Then, as you ride more and are able to study traffic more, you'll develop your better sense of situational awareness, leading you to make adjustments before things even happen = good riding! 


Training, the best safety and performance "equipment" you can get!
Get MSF trained, check out: http://www.msf-usa.org
 

Post Edited (Andy VH) : 9/28/2011 6:29:25 PM GMT

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Deacon Blues
The Imaginary Director



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   Posted 9/30/2011 12:22 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Andy is right - skilled riders never fixate on anything for long, they're always evaluating and checking what's around.

Also, never rely on your mirrors when a head check will do the job better (such as when changing lanes). Mirrors have blind spots. Hopefully your regular vision does not.

It may be extreme anal retentiveness, but I make a point of acknowledging drivers that are about to overtake, with a handwave or just a nod in their direction, as they slide into my mirror's blind spot.


"Lane splitting will never be accepted in those areas where driving is considered a martial art."

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RaptorFA
'11 Suzuki GSX1250FA



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   Posted 1/2/2012 12:24 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.

I like both of these posts a lot. I think the things that made the biggest impact early on for me was the concept of getting that sense of the bigger picture and looking at things in terms of time/distance. When you start performance driving you already have a concept of it but it is so much more evident on a bike than in a car. Has to be the feeling of exposure. Your eyes turn into radar scanners almost instinctually! But your brain processes the data much differently; it's much more accute and sharp.  

And of course, none of this can happen if you don't keep your head up! I kept practicing at my controls when I first got both my machines so that I would never have to look down to use any of them while riding. Believe it or not that helped a bunch.

The concept of communicating with the drivers around you is a good one also; I do it too. There is a way to positively engage them that helps things a lot when you are in close quarters. If nothing else it lets them know you are there. 



Regards -
 
RaptorFA
Play Hard, Ride Safe

Post Edited (RaptorFA) : 1/2/2012 7:31:56 PM GMT

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thesoapster
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   Posted 1/2/2012 5:41 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
I've avoided several collisions on lunch runs with coworkers in the car. Many of them never saw it coming, or saw it too late. The seer-like ability is from being paranoid and from that paranoia deriving a certain distrust and cautious approach when it comes to traffic. I don't expect people to follow the rules and I expect them to drive sloppily. So many now don't seem to care about staying in their lane, stopping properly at stop signs (3/4 of the car over the white line), signaling properly, etc. What it seems to do is create an aura of carelessness that results in the driver slipping up badly on occasion. Blowing through stop signs, veering into my lane because they didn't really look at the boundaries of their own lane when entering a corner, the list goes on (as you all know). I had this mindset to a certain extent, but I really amped up the thoroughness of my checking after getting hit by a car in November of 2008. He (a teenager) ran a red light and was not at the intersection. Most intersections are designed in a way that would have allowed me to see him with my regular check. This one is at a bit of a weird angle so it would have required me to look up the street to see (instead of ahead). Well, now I do just that. At all intersections I take a glance a little ways up the road before I get near it just so I have an idea. Because people blow through stop signs and stop lights, checking the stop area is not necessarily sufficient in all cases. So yes, a few years later with much more mileage under my belt, I'm still paranoid. I've found, though, that checking these sorts of things creates a sense of ease, also. I don't like surprises (at least on the road).
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Gone in 60
Lone Commuter of the Apocalypse



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   Posted 1/3/2012 1:14 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Very good post, and great information. I provided the "what not to do" scenario yesterday. Namely, where you look determines where your bike is going to go. Going into curves, I make a point of "looking through the turn" to make sure my bike goes where I want it to go, and not fixating on where I can potentially go off the road.

Being the observed New Year holiday, and with beautiful sunny skies and nobody on the road, I took the rare opportunity to ride somewhere other than my office. Went through Palos Verdes, along the coast with some gorgeous views. If anyone is familiar with the area, coming back through San Pedro, and over the two big bridges in the L.A. harbor. Curving around to the freeway, I caught a terrific view across the harbor of the Queen Mary and a large cruise ship docked next to it. Looked at it just a bit too long, as when I looked back at the curving road, I found myself going straight, in the direction I was looking.

No huge problem, as the road was wide enough and no other traffic was around, so I corrected without any drama, but it was a good reminder not to fixate your eyes on something, particularly that isn't your intended path of travel!


Work to ride, Ride to work
Honda VTX 1300R & 750 Nighthawk

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el SID
merely a man equipped with a bag a seedless grapes



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   Posted 1/3/2012 3:02 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Kinda worked with my boys on this this last weekend at the cottage. I had them suit up and take my dads sport utility quad out and learn the ways of riding in the dark. Its funny, they picked up on it instantly. Owen even mentioned how hard it was to turn cause he couldnt see. And that he was reliant on his knowledge of the trail to make certain turns. Also Colin said he couldnt believe how much he needed to slow down just to be able to react and see exactly where he was going. We started talking about things like scanning the ground looking for fresh tracks, scanning the landscape looking for crazed kamakazie wildlife. All situational awareness things, just more trail oriented. But good lessons for the youngsters nontheless.
I have always found that from my days on scoots till now,if I get cut off or not seen by a driver its partly my fault, if Im really honest with myself. Learning the different intricacies of how to make yourself seen is difficult. Its not something you want to get wrong often. Obviously there are certain people who wont see you,cause they are self absorbed into texting make up or whatever, so detecting them and avoiding them is a whole new deal all on its own. Great topic Andy.
I do find that most motorcyclist are better drivers. They tend to scan the road, and pick up on cues of stupidity from other drivers. I think it becomes second nature after a while. That is if you are a competent thinking rider.
Drivers in general have a load of bad habits,as soap has pointed out. List is so long we could probably have a 9 page thread. The trick for the rider is not to pick up bad habits, bad habits = bad situations.


Best bike out is the one Im on,sod the rest lmao
current hacks


1996 honda vfr
2012 tuono rsv4 aprc on order baby.... march 2012
1973 kawasaki h1
1998 suzuki rm 125 I have broken her back. I feel guilty. she may have to be laid to rest.

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Andy VH
Where is the earth shattering kaboom!?



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   Posted 1/3/2012 9:47 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
I agree, that cycle riders who have survived their initial year or two of riding-trial-by-error do probably become better drivers in general. I have had people riding in a car with me, comment about how I adjust my speed or position "seemingly" just before something ahead changed or quickly developed.

I try to express it isn't "seemingly" at all, as I was adjusting to something I "expected" to happen, or expected the suspect car driver/vehicle to do. In my book, for my riding, there is no "suddenly" as an adjective to describe an event to which I had to react. My goal is no "suddenly", and if it does occur, then I DID SOMETHING WRONG FIRST! But also, for the most part, because I also strive to create more distance around me when riding, a "suddenly" event is usually far enough away that it does not require a panic reaction. Sometimes it does require quick, assertive, corrective, exacting actions, but I rarley have a panic reaction.

And I have had people ride with me through the twisities, comment they rarely see a brake light on my bike from behind, but yet I am hustling along such that they are working at it to keep up. Smooth and sure is another riding goal, always.


Training, the best safety and performance "equipment" you can get!
Get MSF trained, check out: http://www.msf-usa.org
 

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