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If even I don't see you......


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This happened just now and I thought it might make some of us reflect for an extra moment. Either riding or driving!


Not meaning to say I am mr. Eagle Eyes. But I am an extremely conscious driver AND motorcycle rider. I know what happens around me all of the time. I pay attention and look and think ahead and behind. I don't use my cell phone, don't text, have no DVD monitor playing the latest Youtube videos and don't even have a radio on when driving.

And most of all, I wouldn't want anyone to come into MY space when riding the bike, so I am double conscious where it concerns other riders, especially when in the cage.


And yet.....


Here I am in my Dad's little Peugeot, on Amsterdam's busy ring road, in the rain with everything glistening and the rearview mirrors not entirely 100% clear. There's a 100km/hr limit on this stretch and almost all traffic is within 5 km of that limit... there are many cameras after all. Majority is driving on the rightmost of three lanes, as is normal here. (little rant: The left most lane is mostly used by the occasional old Golf GTI, driven by a basbebal cap looking THROUGH the wheel - doors ajar by the sheer volume of the getto blasters inside. /rant: )


Then there's this car ahead of me that keeps changing his speed.... 105....90....100...95....110....80..... probably on the phone.

So when it drops back to 90 once again, I decide to pass it.


Now, the inside and outside rearview mirrors are pretty small on these tiny French cars, and they reveal not much more than LOTS of lights of the traffic behind. Doubled because of the reflexions on the wet surface. So making any sidewards moves means looking, looking again, and looking once more, just to be safe.


On my second look I thought I saw something 'out of the ordinary'.... what looked like just ONE light. Broken head beam? Or motor bike. With the third look I didn't see it anymore.... so I turned on my signal and wanted to move left..... looked one more time and OOPS..... it HAD been a motorcycle, a BMW no less, and it was now quite near me, riding at high speed. So I checked my signal and movement and he whizzed by (now in the third lane).... at more than 120 km/hr.


Sooooo.... if I don't see you in time, you're in the danger zone in my book.


Lets remember that we are NOT visible AT ALL in the dark, no matter how bright your one (or maybe paired) lights may be... not even small running lights would help in this situation.

You are just part of all the other cars in ones mirrors. And there's an additional problem, apart from being taken as part of one of the cars.

Gauging distance and speed on ONE point is harder than on TWO, so it is not as obvious how fast a motorcycle is approaching at all times.


Be careful out there.....


P.S. And oh yes, the driver I passed WAS on the phone indeed. Creeps.

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I've had similar experiences, but in a different context--black motorcycles ridden by riders in black gear, with a dim lower beam giving only the slightest cue that a moto was approaching.


I go all out to try to increase my visual signature, but the fact remains that we are, relatively speaking, smaller than cars, and people miss seeing us all the time.


I do believe that a triangle of light--in my case, consisting of my headlights and two fork-mounted MotoLites, makes for a much more readily identifiable profile as a motorcycle, but maybe I'm delusional.

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Hi Mike, yes I think the triangle of light helps in certain situations (grey and dark background). But in this case with so many lights around, they just drown and become just so many additional tiny lights spots in mass of others.

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On my recent blog http://abmwriderover60.com/ I asked the question "what do you do to make yourself more visable"? The overwhelming answer is Hi-Viz apparel. What about helmet color? I asked if anyone would wear a Optic Yellow helmet and so far no responses. I use a white helmet but I heard that Schuberth was bringing the C-3 Series to the US and it may include a Hi-Vis color. Given the lack of driver concentration, on driving, we need to do what we can to be highly visable. Maybe not the "coolest" look but safe.

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Yikes. Been there, both sides. The rain and darkness make it soooo much harder to be seen. Even with HID's in for the low-beams and low-mounted foglights on the engine bars, I try, TRY to remember that they still might not see me.

Add in the natural assumption that the lights they see are so close together that it must be a cage far away. No though of it being a bike.

My plan, forged during many an evasive maneuver, is not to drive defensively but offensively. By which I mean assume they can see you and they are trying to hit you. Then act, not react. Your life depends on it.

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Nice blog John. To answer your question on it: our 'mounted police' (no longer on BMW's unfortunately) wear the yellow Hi-viz Schubert's ow, and yellow vests and partly hi-viz yellow bikes).


Before they were white (and red-blue police stripes). That was better for me, because cagers would think I was a police bike and they'd behave better. Now I'd need to change the whole caboodle to hi-viz yellow, and that's not possible. :-)


It sure helps in day-time, but not at night.

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I wear a Hi-Viz neon Scorpion Transformer.

Comfortable, very visible.

Just got great review in MCN.

I also wear a hi-viz vest (Olympia) that accents the shoulder area.

The head and shoulders are two most visible parts on a rider.


I also have 2 sets of fog/driving lights (Motolights & PIAA's) which are very noticeable being at different heights and have converted all turn signals to running lights.


Francois, BTDT.

Sometimes a rider is in the wrong spot each time we check.

Sometimes we have the "I didn't see him" phenomena.


As a rider I try to avoid time in blind spots and be noticeable in the dark/rain as much as possible.

Wear yellow rain jacket with retroreflective.


When overtaking, the rider should have noticed the car ahead of you changing speeds and anticipated your move.

I'd have passed you earlier, before you made the move.



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Tallman, I will take a look at the Scorpion helmet. My Nolan is a little noisy but I don't have anything to compare it to. The Schuberth has a 84db at 60 mph specification. Thanks!


Fubar's "offensive" driving philosophy deserves some study. I know I have passed a vehicle just to get away from it!


Francois, I am really looking froward to seeing the HI-Viz Schuberth. Do you have any pictures of your "mounted police" or are pictures of them not allowed?



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I have been looking for the switch to turn the cloaking device OFF since I bought my beemer in '02. I finally went to the other viewpoint......They CAN'T see us, so we should assume that is true, and use it to our advantage. It does impede my progress just a bit when I make up my mind when I can slip through the left turners, but otherwise, I find invisibility has its moments. Like when the cop, out of his car with the radar gun, doesn't see me until I am nearly past him. Quiet pipes help with this as well.

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Francois, I am really looking froward to seeing the HI-Viz Schuberth. Do you have any pictures of your "mounted police" or are pictures of them not allowed?


I *think* that BMW are about to make a hi-viz yellow version of the System 6 available in the UK, based on the version in use by some European police forces.


In the UK a variety of lids are used, including IIRC Shoei and BMW (in silver), eg:



A few random links from a quick Googlefest:





Select yellow from the scrolling bar at the bottom of the screen view






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Francois, I am really looking froward to seeing the HI-Viz Schuberth. Do you have any pictures of your "mounted police" or are pictures of them not allowed?



Not a secret at all :-)


The riders in these pictures have different helmets














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I think the problem here wasn't what the guy was wearing (but I agree wearing bright stuff is a good idea), but the fact he was going way too fast.


I have this almost happen to me every morning. I drive about 35 miles one way on the freeway to work. I usually go 5 miles/hour faster than the speed limit. Invariably some guy on a crotch rocket will pass me doing 100mph splitting lanes. With a car following me that gives almost no time at all for me to see a guy on a bike going that fast. I could look back and it be clear, but by the time I make the lane change the guy could be there.


On my bike, when ever I pass a car on the freeway I make sure I ride where he can see me (not in his blind spot) for a good bit before I pass. Then I assume he will try and take me out anyway and be ready to hit the gas, break, look for shoulder room, or look for a soft spot.


I think we always need to ride like no one can see us....

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  • 2 weeks later...
Fubar's "offensive" driving philosophy deserves some study. I know I have passed a vehicle just to get away from it!

Please don't misunderstand. When I said "... assume they can see you and they are trying to hit you. Then act, not react."

I don't mean you should be offensive, but rather that you be decisive. Take appropriate actions to remove the threats to life and limb that the cagers are presenting and put yourself in a safe® surrounding. The important part is to ACT, not wait for the other driver to make up your mind for you (react). I suspect most here already operate this way.

I had to employ offensive driving twice today. At noon on a sunny FL day.

A small box truck was merging onto the 3-lane road I was traveling. I was in the middle lane and could see he was really pushing hard on the go pedal. No way he could maintain the first lane (as required by law and brains). He was coming across all three lanes. I braked from 55 to about 35, blew the horn as he entered my lane (watching his head swivel as he looked for me was fun) and let him pass in front. Then I accelerated back to my previous speed, blew the horn again as I got beside his cab and waved with a single finger.

I didn't wait to see what he was going to do, I just acted - out of self-preservation - and eliminated a threat. I could have twisted it but would have put myself, and others, at more risk doing so, not to mention I would have been speeding.

Five minutes later I needed to do just that on a freeway on-ramp that was going from 2 lanes to one. A 5 series BMW wasn't looking, just following the line on his right and sliding left. I was already accelerating so a little more was easy. 3 seconds and 30 mph later I was 150 feet in front of him and safe.

Offensive (decisive) driving has kept me off the asphalt for 25 years (so far).

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