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There's "defensive" riding and then there's "LA Defensive" riding


MyR1100RT

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I just arrived in LA for work. I should be here for a few months until my next destination comes up. Here are a few observations about riding in LA traffic.

 

I've ridden all over the US and Europe so I think I've seen both sides of the coin when it comes to the "auto/MC" relationship on the road. LA on the other hand is it's own creature. I am by nature a very observant rider and pay close attention to the other vehicles on the road. Here I find that I need to be extra extra aware. Between the distracted driving that the four wheeler drivers do and the general "me first" attitude - whew - it can wear a person out. I'm looking forward to more miles getting to see what's around here.

 

I did pull up next to a CHP bike cop at a light a few days ago. He lifted his chin cover up and asked me how I liked my bike and how many miles I had on it (62K). I quickly asked him how he liked his wethead. He gave me a big smile and said he loved it.

 

More to follow as it happens.

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If you're white lining in the car pool lane beware of cars just crossing over the double yellow lines. You won't see drivers trying to impede your filtering thru the traffic very often, but it happens from time to time also. Most will give you room if they see you, and I acknowledge their kindness when possible.

 

We do have get together rides in SoCal from time to time so stay tuned...

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Like longjohn said, most drivers are considerate enough to yield the right of way if they see you. The biggest problem I see is drivers using their cellphones as they drive. A real worry.

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Dennis Andress

The CHP were the only cops who laughed when I said I was glad they get the slow bikes...

 

You can dehydrate quickly in SoCal. Carry a Camel Back so you can get sip of water from time to time. It can make a surprising improvement in your concentration.

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I so miss SoCal riding. Pure heavenly bliss.

 

My read? Compared to east coast cities, LA was a piece of cake. Clearly marked lanes on smooth highways where people generally use their signals--these conditions simply do not exist anywhere from Boston to Washington, DC. I logged 60K of incident free, lane splitting LA miles from 2003-2006.

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Just a little update. I had meetings on Wilshire over the last three days. The meetings ended at 6pm and my 18 mile trip home ended up being in stop and go traffic (shocker I know!). Even though I still had both saddle bags on the bike I was very pleasantly surprised how many people actually "parted the seas" for me and gave me a bit more room than normal when I white lined between them. I've never been a person who'd white line (except when I lived in Europe and it was legal) except in extreme circumstances (bike overheating, working the clutch a bit too much etc). I was very surprised, and thankful.

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Dennis Andress

Sounds like you are beginning to enjoy yourself.

 

California law says it's legal for two vehicles to share a lane. That's where splitting is. Sharing. Pay attention to which side of the line you are riding. If you hit the person in your lane, it's your fault. If you hit the other person, it's their fault, if the cop isn't ticked.

 

 

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Don't try the lane split or expect a break here in NYC. We have the no-lane lane where the lanes marked on the street have no relationship to how many cars abreast actually travel down the street together at the same time.

 

Add to this the new city bike lanes that take out one complete car lane and one needs to be a swivel headed rider/driver...lest one get crushed by the compression of more cars in less lanes. Increase the Uber driver traffic and the yellow cabs zooming across traffic lanes for on-street pedestrian business and its...just another day in the Big Apple.

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  • 2 weeks later...

To ride a motorcycle in CA is to lane split. I agree with the others, most drivers here will move a little for you. However, it seems a few drivers always make your day interesting.

 

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russell_bynum

My advice: Don't ride Defensively. Ride Offensively.

 

Defensive means you're riding along hyper-vigilant ready to react when someone does something stupid.

 

Offensively means you see the potential for someone to do something stupid and proactively take action so that when/if they do something stupid it doesn't put you at risk.

 

A simple example...you're riding along and notice that there's a car up on the right and a gap to their left. You recognize that the car might change lanes into the gap and hit you in the process.

 

Defensive riding: Cover the horn button (I love that advice. lol) Be ready to swerve hard left into the gap if they start coming over, etc.

 

Offensive riding: Speed up or slow down so that the car can't get into the gap when you're there. Or change lanes so that you're not in the situation at all anymore.

 

That won't fix all of your problems. People will still try to change lanes into a gap that isn't there, etc...but most of the time the problem is that they just didn't see you because you're somewhere they aren't looking and you aren't moving in a way that their mind is used to looking for. And if you Offensively deal with most of those problems, then you'll only have to be ready to defensively deal with stuff that you didn't expect. And since riding Offensively requires 100% mental engagement, you'll already be ready to act.

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  • 3 weeks later...

My advice : watch all Prius models, they seem to cut me off and try to stopping my progress when lane splitting. They have often crossed over the double yellow line to achieve this. I am trained in science and there is a highly significant difference between most car's behavior and that if Prius owners. Beware!

 

That being said many drivers are very kind and move to facilitate my movement past them. They get it that if I pass them they will not get to their destination one second later. On a early morning ride south from Big Sur to Cambria our group saw only three cars going our direction. All three automatically moved over to allow all three bikes to pass safely. We did not need to crowd them, block lights or anything. They just were cool and we never saw them again after the next curve. It was as close to heaven as I have had on my bike. Thanks

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