In last week's edition of this column we spoke about the importance of taking responsibility for our own safety. This week we will explore the concept a little further. There is a term that is often used by driving instructors, but that sadly seems to be forgotten as soon as people get within spitting distance of their bikes. The term is “defensive driving”, and it is the most basic, and most important, principle of bike safety.
Last week we discussed the importance of observation in defensive driving; this week we look at the by-product of observation by asking a simple question: I have observed the traffic around me, and I have seen what there is to see – now what?
The risks of riding a motorbike are, for the greater part, all too obvious – cars violating our right of way, high differential speed between us and the surrounding traffic, motorcycles being easy not to see, and so forth. But there are some risks that are not so obvious, things that even experienced riders don’t necessarily think about.
Whenever you get on your bike, I bet you seldom ask yourself “Is today the day I will fall?” If we thought about falling all the time we were riding, we would probably sell our bikes and take up knitting in the interest of personal safety.
Picture this: a biker is lane-splitting through heavy traffic when, suddenly and without warning, a car swerves into his path. The biker only just manages to avoid colliding with the car, and in that adrenaline-charged moment, the biker retaliates by slapping the car’s side mirror. Is his action justified or not?