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I started riding when i was 13 years old. I rode until the late 80"s and then went away from it for about 20 years (although I often got out on friend's bikes.)

When I got my 2006 DL650 in 2006 I noticed right away that everyone seemed out to get me. Cars were cutting me off, there were near hits with oncoming left turners, cars on highways seemed to want to move into my lane all the time. I had lots of close calls!

I added a Stebel Horn and it seemed to need it a lot. I added reflective tape all over my bike, I put foil in my turn signals so that they would get brighter. I even tried running with high beams for a bit.

Nothing really seemed to change, at least it didn't for a while. Cars still seemed out to get me. I even rode with people that had headlight modulators and wore hi-viz and witnessed several near hits when they were leading.

I read about SMIDSY and learned about motion Camouflage and things started getting better. I think that was a turning point but ultimately was just one small part of my riding education.


Even though I ride lots (around 40,000 km/25,000 miles a year) and commute in traffic almost every day I have found I rarely need to take any evasive maneuvers anymore.

When I got my (Black!) 2012 DL650 I bought reflective tape and a Stebel horn but never installed either. Somewhere along the way I stopped using Silver Helmets and started using Black ones. I wear the same tired old Roadcrafter Two-piece which has a grey jacket and black Pants. Nothing in my gear has changed that would increase my visibility. My bike is less visible. I donm't have reflective tape and even removed hterear refletors as they seemed to interfere with the SW motch quik-racks. I stopped running daytime high beams a along time ago (but make sure my headlights are "sync'd together.) I ride in rain. I ride at night. I ride when there is snow around sometimes. In 2012 I was lane splitting around LA in California on a rented Honda ST1300 with my (future) wife on the back. (It seemed very natural and I was surprised at how easy-going driver's were in California compared to riding on Toronto's hwy 401.)

But I seem to almost never have any stressful car-related moments apart from the odd pickup truck driver that hated getting passed and tried to intimidate me.

Do any of you relate to this at all? Is it just that we eventually learn how to ride in such a way that we mange to avoid most of the scary situations or what?

..Tom
 

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I would suppose we learn to operate with the knowledge that we are, for the most part, invisible, and that rights of way are a pipe dream, just like the "start seeing motorcycles" campaign. At the same time we grow comfortable being surrounded by others unintentionally trying to ruin our day.
 

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I do not know about you, but I firmly believe in the value of Hi Viz. I can tell the difference when people start to pull out and stop when I am seen better. I have forgotten my vest and can tell the difference. And its a passive safety feature in my book. Most MSF and other safety instructors seem to agree with me. However, you and I have disagreed on Hi Viz in the past and both our minds are pretty set on the subject, so we will just agree to disagree.

I will try and answer your question with another idea I have personally noticed. I too have had less issues in recent years and my current bike is grey not white like the last one. I credit it to being able to anticipate what people will do now as I gain more experience. I just assume they will pull out and as such, am typically already on the brakes...its no longer such a surprise to me. They still offend my safety but I react much more quickly to the point its much less serious or notable. I have also slowed down and hurry less on 2 wheels.
 

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I've been a road rider for 55 years now and have to say I feel more secure on my bike in traffic than in the car. Now that I'm older and less aggressive it certainly helps to stay at the general traffic speed and leave a reasonable gap to the vehicle in front.

Problems with other traffic are extremely rare and continual awareness is second nature now so that the occasional "I didn't see you" (IDSY) situation barely raises heartrate as it has been anticipated.

One of my tips is to watch the front wheel of a car at intersections and react as soon as the wheel starts moving in case the driver has looked right through you without registering your presence.

I wear hi viz gear but the incidence of IDSY seems about the same with or without wearing it.
 

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...

Even though I ride lots (around 40,000 km/25,000 miles a year) and commute in traffic almost every day I have found I rarely need to take any evasive maneuvers anymore.

...

But I seem to almost never have any stressful car-related moments apart from the odd pickup truck driver that hated getting passed and tried to intimidate me.

Do any of you relate to this at all? Is it just that we eventually learn how to ride in such a way that we mange to avoid most of the scary situations or what?

..Tom
I think that the number of miles you ride is the primary reason you avoid scary situations. You have probably seen most every stupid thing a person does behind the wheel and you aren't surprised anymore.

Be careful of complacency though. Most of us don't have the seat time you do and need to tip the odds toward us. Some people are going to see a Hi-Viz jacket and not pull out. Sure some don't (maybe most don't) but some do.
 

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I think that V-Tom has found his mojo in the traffic. I know that when I first started, I was surprised at how often cars didn't see me, or didn't care. I remember one incident when I had to brake sharply for a road train (a semi-trailer with three carriages) that pulled out in front of me in broad daylight.

However, today on the ride into work I noticed an SUV mum with kids in the car in the next lane, slowly gaining on the car in front of her. My lane was obviously empty because it only had a bike in it, so just as she put her indicator on and started to move across in one fluid motion as is so common, I jumped down a gear and pulled in front of her. Problem solved, no danger to me, and she got a little fright too.

Your perception of danger changes, and your ability to see into the future gets better as you go along.
 

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So you are saying that removing reflectors, making your bike less visible and ditching a good horn has made your riding safer?

I'm guessing you over reacted to things in the past and are dying towards complacency.

Splitting lanes in California on a rented motorcycle with a passanger sounds like complacency to me. I'm also guessing you ride rush hour in Toronto and were not in the rush hour in LA.

I commute in LA and there are days where I'll see three crashes on one commute.
Today my co- worker saw a 16 wheeler flip on it's side.
 

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I do not know about you, but I firmly believe in the value of Hi Viz. I can tell the difference when people start to pull out and stop when I am seen better. I have forgotten my vest and can tell the difference. And its a passive safety feature in my book. Most MSF and other safety instructors seem to agree with me. However, you and I have disagreed on Hi Viz in the past and both our minds are pretty set on the subject, so we will just agree to disagree.

I will try and answer your question with another idea I have personally noticed. I too have had less issues in recent years and my current bike is grey not white like the last one. I credit it to being able to anticipate what people will do now as I gain more experience. I just assume they will pull out and as such, am typically already on the brakes...its no longer such a surprise to me. They still offend my safety but I react much more quickly to the point its much less serious or notable. I have also slowed down and hurry less on 2 wheels.
I believe in hi viz gear. It works. Also I am very pro active. If someone is waiting at an intersection, before they even have an inkling of wanting to pull out in front of me I am snaking back and forth in my lane like a crazy man. It works. Also I don't ride beside cars, I get around said cars quickly, and flash my brakes at stop lights and leave myself an out. I ride aggressive but not stupid aggressive. More like safely aggressive.

Basically I anticipate that every one in a cage is out to hurt me and ride as such. We can out maneuver, out accelerate, and out brake just about any four wheeled vehicle on the road. I like knowing that and use that to arrive home safe.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
So you are saying that removing reflectors, making your bike less visible and ditching a good horn has made your riding safer?
Not at all.. I'm saying that in spite of the above I seem to get into less situations. Not having them seems to have made no difference.


I'm guessing you over reacted to things in the past and are dying towards complacency.
Perhaps I did over react sometimes, but I suspect that for the most part I don't put myself in dangerous situations nearly as often.

The first time I head down to the Tail of the Dragon with the Road Toads a good friend had his modulator on and (I think) his reflective vest on. My friend was fairly inexperienced at that stage of riding. We were in the left lane of a two lane each way interstate going by slower vehicles. He almost got taken out by a bus that moved into his lane. I suspect a little part of things might have been the modulator being mistaken a a "go ahead" signal, but I feel the much greater issue was that he put himself in a dangerous position due to lack of experience. The modulator (and maybe vest) made no difference as it was all about where he had positioned himself. He has since become a very seasoned, capable rider and has ridden all over North America and I know doesn't put himself in positions like that anymore.

Splitting lanes in California on a rented motorcycle with a passenger sounds like complacency to me. I'm also guessing you ride rush hour in Toronto and were not in the rush hour in LA.
Is 8 am on 405 rush hour in LA? That was the last time I rode it. And I have to say that I wasn't aggressive in lane splitting, just following someone else that was doing it and being pretty cautious about it.

I commute in LA and there are days where I'll see three crashes on one commute.
Today my co- worker saw a 16 wheeler flip on it's side.
I don't ride on hwy 401 in Toronto daily, but it is as busy (and often mentioned as busier) than 405 in LA. But the drivers on 401 are angry all the time, whereas it seemed the drivers on 405 were much more relaxed. On 401 they hate that you might get ahead of them while on 405 they seemed not bothered by it.

Perhaps I was just on 405 on good days.

..Tom
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I think that the number of miles you ride is the primary reason you avoid scary situations. You have probably seen most every stupid thing a person does behind the wheel and you aren't surprised anymore.

Be careful of complacency though. Most of us don't have the seat time you do and need to tip the odds toward us. Some people are going to see a Hi-Viz jacket and not pull out. Sure some don't (maybe most don't) but some do.
I don't think it's complacency. When I am leading one or more people on busy roads I find I am on edge all the time as I worry they might not see what I see. If it was complacency I think I'd be relaxed in that situation.

I suspect a lot of it is anticipation of what drivers will do.

..Tom



..Tom
 

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I too agree that as you become more experienced you put yourself in less dangerous positions than before and you become less nervous so some things that scared you before don't bother you quite as much. I have a few rules I try to follow. #1 never stay in close contact with a beige buick. they are usually over 80. #2 any car with the drivers seat reclined 45 degress, any car playing rap or any other music at high volume, #3 any car with mismatched wheels or parts missing as the brakes aren't any better than the rest of the car,#4 anycar with more than three children. #5 all pickups with junk in the back. there, now that I have eliminated 50% of the vehicles on the road I feel much safer.
 

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Isn't the 401 the busiest highway in North America? Not saying it's the most traffic-induced stress nightmare that causes accidents like LA undoubtedly is? But I think it has the highest volume of traffic flow.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I do not know about you, but I firmly believe in the value of Hi Viz. I can tell the difference when people start to pull out and stop when I am seen better. I have forgotten my vest and can tell the difference. And its a passive safety feature in my book. Most MSF and other safety instructors seem to agree with me. However, you and I have disagreed on Hi Viz in the past and both our minds are pretty set on the subject, so we will just agree to disagree.

I will try and answer your question with another idea I have personally noticed. I too have had less issues in recent years and my current bike is grey not white like the last one. I credit it to being able to anticipate what people will do now as I gain more experience. I just assume they will pull out and as such, am typically already on the brakes...its no longer such a surprise to me. They still offend my safety but I react much more quickly to the point its much less serious or notable. I have also slowed down and hurry less on 2 wheels.
Yeah I wanted to keep hi-viz and other similar things away from this thread. We both know how the other feels about it. I wanted to talk more about how at some point the threats I used to encounter when new seem to have lessened greatly.

I talk safety as do you and I suspect we both think a lot about how we are riding and what we are doing. My experience says that (being conscious of what we are doing) is one of the biggest factors but I rarely hear people talking about it.

..Tom
 

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Discussion Starter #14
... Also I am very pro active. If someone is waiting at an intersection, before they even have an inkling of wanting to pull out in front of me I am snaking back and forth in my lane like a crazy man. It works. Also I don't ride beside cars, I get around said cars quickly, and flash my brakes at stop lights and leave myself an out. I ride aggressive but not stupid aggressive. More like safely aggressive.
...

I think being pro-active is important.. it has you thinking and planning ahead and helps you avoid constitutions before they happen as opposed to reacting to them when they do happen.

My personal opinion is that aggressive drivers/riders tend to be more focused and better riders/drivers, at least up to a certain point. (Of course that point is when they are more aggressive than me! :) )

..Tom
 

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As the miles pile on and the days go by I have experienced my speed dropping. I have had just about every close call you can think of and they keep playing over in my head like a broken record. I end up setting my speed based on the cumulative effect of all my experience and what I have found is that I get passed by other riders A LOT.
 

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Pro-active

I agree with much of what V-Tom says and have learnt some good ides riding with him. We have both witness one-another mistakes and near misses. I'd like to expand on his point about being pro-active. Hopefully we are all defensive riders; otherwise we may as well enter the Darwin Awards competition.
But to me being pro-active means planning for the blind or stupid morons on the road who create opportunities to allow accidents to happen. We've all seen crashes that are called accidents but were really inevitable because some driver provided an opportunity for it to happen.
So my point is that when I ride I look for possible nasty situations and deliberately try to re-position myself or change my speed so that I'm not likely to get involved.
Examples could be: going a different route to avoid a left hand turn across a busy road, or when stopped at a light or sign staying in first gear and closely watching the traffic approaching from behind in my mirrors, and avoid crazy busy mall parking lots.
What ever it takes, makes plans for the morons and be pro-active.
 

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As the years have gone by I'm less convinced of the value of "safely aggressive" as a riding style. I used to think it was the way to go, and rode that way all the time. Now, not so much. There's definitely a time and place for it, but it can get you in trouble too.

As I said in the other thread, I think of it as "shells of awareness" (typically 3 or so deep) where I'm looking at the people immediately around me, the people around them, and another out from that. Always trying to figure out what the people around me are going to need to react to (usually before they're aware of it) and position myself so I'm not where they're going to want to go. Occasionally circumstances force you into a more aggressive posture, where you take the spot they are going to want, but in such a way that they have to see you. I find less need to do that than I used to.

Being a geek, I also think of as finding the minimum of an equation, y=f(x), where y is your total risk and f(x) is a large, constantly changing multi-variate equation that models all the threats you face at a given moment. You're solving it continuously in real time, which illustrates what an amazing computer the brain is. :)
 

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I believe safety is a mindset. I have less encounters now because I stay out in the country more. I only ride in cities when going cross country or on the weekends. I have learned to look through the turns better now, slow for hills I can not see over. I also use my GPS a lot to see what curves are ahead of me.

I try to not ever ride faster than I can stop for the given site distance.

When I am on the highway I practice proper lane placement. No blind spot riding. I try to be much more relaxed and laid back. I finally have figured out why should I be in a hurry. I am on my bike. I have no place to go nor a special time to be there. I remind myself of this often.

AND most of all, I no longer let cars piss me off....this was very hard for me to accept, but I finally have.
 

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I agree with the theme throughout these replies. Be aware of what is happening around you, never put yourself in any vehicles blind spot, never assume that any driver can see you unless you make eye contact, and always think about where you would go/do if that car suddenly takes away your safety zone.
 

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+1 on most responses here.
Experience / miles = anticipation and avoidance (however, there's always the one-off unavoidable, so don't let experience = complacency).

I wear hi-viz, despite my miles, and years, of riding. Still do black helmets, though (but *do* have black reflective tape on them). And, I still have my Stebel. Not so much for avoidance (although, it *has* awakened a texting driver from time to time), but perhaps more to make the occasional texting/makeup applying/oblivious cager aware that they *they're* getting complacent... somewhat of a "pay-it-forward" of a warning...
 
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