by Jerry Palladino
It's been said that the best offense is a good defense. Well, when
riding a motorcycle, a good defense is exactly what you need, if you
want to live to be a ripe old biker.
Here's scenario #1. You're cruising down the left land of the highway,
the vehicle in front of you signals a left hand turn. Of course, you are
looking way ahead, as you should be, and you can see the left turn lane
approaching. The vehicle starts to move into the left turn lane and now
the question is, where should you be? I would say, if you're like me and
you like to ride in the left portion of your lane, you should now move
as far right in your lane as you can. The reason I say this, is because
so many times I've seen the driver decide at the last second to change
his mind and suddenly pull back into the left lane. You can almost bet
he neither knows you are there, or cares. If you move to the right part
of your lane, start covering your brakes and get prepared for him to
move back into the left hand lane, you will at least have half a chance
of being able to squeeze by him and the car to your right. Always plan
for the worse and be prepared for it.
Here's scenario #2. You are on a 3 lane highway heading north, there's
an island which separates the roadway from the southbound 3 lanes and
there is a break in the island which allows cars to cross from one side
to the other. You see an SUV in the island waiting to make a left hand
turn. What you can't see is the vehicle to the north of the SUV which is
trying to pull into your side of the roadway. If you can't see that
vehicle, you can bet he can't see you. About 50% of the time, especially
if it is a busy roadway, you can bet that vehicle you can't see is going
to pull right out in front of you. You should always be prepared for a
situation like this. Remember, he might end up with a dented fender, but
you would be lucky to survive such a situation. What should you do?
Well, it's just common sense. Slow down as you approach the break in the
road, cover your brakes, check your right side rear view mirror and
prepare to either brake or swerve. Remember, you can't do both at the
same time. Plan ahead in your mind what you are going to do. The same
thing applies if a vehicle to your right is attempting to pull onto the
highway in your path from a side road. If you always plan for the worse,
you'll be ready when it happens, because after all, you've got a plan.
Remember, when you are riding a motorcycle, you need to be defensive. It
could mean your life.
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More articles by MOTORMAN:
Back to Basics Series:
A "Motorman" is the term used in police circles to identify a motorcycle
cop, or any law enforcement officer assigned to the motorcycle division.
becoming a Motor Officer, Jerry rode for enjoyment for about 25
years. Then one day, he saw a 5 minute segment on a television show
which depicted motorcycle officers training on their Harley police
bikes. The way these officers could maneuver these full size motorcycles
around like a child's toy, made it appear as if they were defying
gravity. At that moment, he knew that he had a lot to learn about riding
a motorcycle. Shortly afterwards, the agency he worked for started a
motorcycle unit. he was sent for training to Tallahassee with the
highway patrol. The training consisted of 120 hours of intensive
motorcycle training, focusing mainly on low speed handling. Jerry says,
"When I finished this training, for the first time I really knew how to
ride a motorcycle."