Riding in traffic is combat riding. Don’t be complacent, be proactive. Assess the situation all around you and determine which vehicle poses the greatest threat. In almost all situations, motorcycle crashes can be avoided by practicing good rider technique and by utilizing useful knowledge and skills.
Visibility is the key to success in urban riding. Remember that visibility is a two-way street. Choose a lane and a position within the lane that makes you most visible to the vehicle that presents the greatest threat.
One of the key things about riding in traffic in a large metropolitan area, like Dallas for example, is lane positioning and your relationship to the vehicles traveling around you – particularly, staying out of their blind spot.
Motorcycles are harder to see due to their smaller size and there are many human factors that can cause a motorcycle to be missed during a motorists’ check for traffic. Never assume a driver sees you just because they are looking your way. “Eye contact” is impossible to accurately determine at any significant distance.
Increase your visibility to other drivers by wearing high visibility motorcycle gear and/or using additional lighting to the front of your machine. In Texas your motorcycle can have up to 4 driving lamps illuminated at once. LED lighting widely spaced laterally on the lower fork legs of your motorcycle forms a triangle of light that is seen more readily by drivers and draws little current from your electrical charging system. Headlight modulators are also effective and are legal in all 50 states.
When approaching intersections where a vehicle is stopped (or slowing) to yield the right of way to you, reduce your speed and cover the brake controls to reduce your reaction time and create greater braking distances. Another effective tactic is to weave your motorcycle back and forth within your lane as you approach the intersection. The lateral movement this creates is much easier for drivers to see than a single headlight moving slowly toward them.
Being stopped at intersections can be perilous as well. When stopping behind traffic, always offset your motorcycle at an angle to the side of the vehicle in front of you that allows the best escape route. Always, always, always leave your machine in gear and your eyes on the rearview mirror until you are moving forward again.
Do not be the first vehicle off the line while other cars are still coming to a stop on the cross street. Sometimes the motorcyclist is the first off the line and gets nailed by someone trying to beat a yellow light. Same thing on right turns on red. Getting in too big of a rush and trying to beat the traffic can cause accidents.
When stopped at intersections of multi-laned roadways, allow the vehicle alongside you to proceed through the intersection ahead of you. If someone runs a red light or stop sign better they get hit than you. After all, they have safety cages, seatbelts and airbags.
Riding in the right-hand lane around shopping centers is a big problem. Cars entering the road from the parking lots don’t often see the motorcyclist coming up the right hand lane. Lane positioning and lane choices are very important.