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MOTORCYCLE SAFETY - TIPS, TRICKS & TECHNIQUES #2

by Jerry Palladino (MOTORMAN)

I'm in my truck sitting at a busy intersection. I'm in the center lane and there's one car in front of me. In the left lane, there's an SUV first in line when a guy on a new Goldwing pulls up behind the SUV and stops about one foot behind the SUV's bumper. I remember thinking, if that SUV rolls back even a little, the guy on the Goldwing is going down. Just then, I hear screeching tires and a glance in my sideview mirror shows a pickup in the left lane with the driver on a cell phone coming at the Goldwing and trying to stop. The Goldwing guy sees him too and is now trying to backup and at the same time turning his handlebars in an effort I'm sure, to ride in between the two cars first in line at the light and avoid a rear end collision. I'm sure he's not going to make it because he was way to close to that SUV, and he doesn't make it. Fortunately, the pickup stops in time, but just barely.

Hopefully, the Goldwing guy learned a lesson by this and so should you. It's simple. When you stop behind a car, give yourself at least 6 feet between your front tire and the rear bumper of the vehicle in front of you. That way you'll have room to maneuver around the car in front of you if need be. Once you've stopped, take a look in front of you to the left and right and decide which side gives you the most room to maneuver should you have to. Plan ahead, decide, then execute.

If you doubt your ability to take off from a standstill with your handlebars turned, practice the 90 degree pull out. That is, go to a parking lot, pull about 6 feet from one of the parking space lines, turn your handlebars full lock and make a smooth take off from a standstill without running over the line in front of you. The trick to the 90 degree pullout is to turn your head and eyes as far as you possibly can to the left or right depending upon which way you want to go. Your instincts will tell you to look straight ahead as soon as the bike starts to move, DON'T DO IT! Keep looking only where you want the bike to go. This exercise will also help you when backing out of a tight parking space. Remember, if you don't practice, all you have to rely on is dumb luck.

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More articles by MOTORMAN:
Back to Basics Series:   About Jerry Palladino:
A "Motorman" is the term used in police circles to identify a motorcycle cop, or any law enforcement officer assigned to the motorcycle division. Prior to
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."
Safety Series:  
 

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