Don’t Be ‘Nice’ To Motorcyclists – Be Predictable

Don’t Be ‘Nice’ To Motorcyclists – Be Predictable
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People will often tell you to ride your motorcycle like you’re invisible. This is pretty good advice because most people don’t see you.

On the flip side, some motorists do notice you, and will make a little extra space for you. Some of them will make a lot of extra space for you, and while I appreciate the thought, I’m going to have to ask you to not do that.

When I’m on my motorcycle, I want everything to go how I expect it to go. I want other drivers to do the things they usually do, and I want the road, my bike, and my gear to all do the things they’ve always done.

Predictability makes traffic move. It is what allows thousands of barely involved drivers to navigate at over 100 km/h, inches away from each other without constant carnage.

Being too nice is unpredictable. Being too nice is when we’re at a four-way stop and it’s your turn, but you wave at me to go ahead. Or when I’m splitting lanes and you move way over into the median to give me space.

I appreciate the thought. I really do. But it does a couple of things that make it unsafe.

The first is that it throws me off. It makes my brain go, “Hey that guy isn’t doing what he’s supposed to be doing, now we have to re-evaluate everything.” It also throws everyone else off. The other people at the stop sign are expecting you to go, and if you don’t, maybe they just go while looking at you and don’t notice that I’ve already started into the intersection.

When you move over too far, it may signal to other drivers that they can merge where you were, through the lane that I’m splitting. They see an opening in the faster-moving lane, flip on their turn signal and merge a nanosecond later, right into my path. It also sometimes kicks up rocks into the air, which is not great.

Sure, a little bit more room is nice, and I appreciate that you are paying attention. The safest thing to do is often to just do what you were going to do anyway. Unless what you were going to do involves your phone, then don’t do that. Even though now that seems to be the most predictable thing.

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  • When I was doing bike lessons (way back in the day) the instructor’s best advice was to position myself so people *could* see me. That meant riding in the right wheel track because it’s more in car drivers eyelines. And not riding on a back corner of a car in the other lane – because it was most likely a blindspot.

    Even in my bike riding days, when I was driving a car I was being super careful but nearly hit people riding bikes a couple times because they’d position in blind spots, or weave through traffic so quickly that they were a rude surprise.

    Being predictable works both ways, bikes that lane split at high speed, or weave through traffic or sit in blindspots aren’t predictable and are every bit as at fault as car drivers being inattentive.

    Side note, I wouldn’t move over while traffic is rolling. If we’re all moving it’s a bad practise for a bike to lane split (regardless of legality). But if I’m rolling to a stop at lights I see no problem with moving to one side to provide bikes space to lane split.

  • I don’t agree with this. There is no fast rule. Being predictable means not breaking for no reason, indicating accordingly, being aware of the space around you to know the best option.

    This is a stupid article that only referenced one aspect of driving. Where is drivers actually doing what sign posts say, or not?

    Really, this article is as unaware as the rider. Irrelevant whingy trollop.

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