Practically every day, we see a post on social media about a bike behaving badly, whether it’s abruptly changing lanes, forcing their way through or even causing an accident.
This can’t be helped as our country is developing, public transportation is lagging painfully behind, which forces more people to buy vehicles and congest the streets even further. This can only heat up the car versus motorcycle debate, with many proponents of each side complaining about the poor driving / riding behavior of the other.
In truth, both are guilty of being inconsiderate. I drive and ride regularly so I’ve seen how both sides can easily misconstrue the other’s actions. Car drivers don’t often realize the risks of riding a motorcycle and neither do some motorcycle riders realize the limitations of a car. To bolster friendly driving from both sides, it would do one well to read the tips below.
Look out for motorcycles
Most accidents happen because car drivers have been trained to look out for other cars and not motorcycles. Motorcycles are much smaller and can easily hide in a car’s blind spots or be blocked by other cars. As such, always presume there could be a motorcycle in your blind spot, around corners, in front of other cars, or beside you when changing lanes. You’d be surprised how much more quickly you can react with that in mind. When changing lanes or turning into an intersection, take an extra moment to wait for a motorcycle to come into view.
Don’t underestimate their speed
Regardless of their size, most bikes can easily out-accelerate a car. They can leave cars behind at stoplights and overtake in shorter gaps. On national roads or highways, be wary of bikes deciding to overtake in gaps that a car would never dare to. Always check your sidemirror or rearview before deciding to overtake. If you see one, chances are, there are a couple more following in a tight pack. Let them pass first as they will be out of your hair quickly. Cut one off and you could quickly find yourself surrounded by an angry group of them.
Save that text, GPS input, or stereo adjustment for later and keep your eyes on the road and all around you. A bike can easily sneak up beside or in front of you during the brief moment it takes to glance at your phone or in-car entertainment system.
Give them time to stop
While bikes accelerate faster, they take longer to slow down. This is because, apart from balancing the front and rear brakes manually, riders also have to maintain their balance. After all, many of these motorcycles, unlike cars, are not equipped with ABS. Suddenly slamming on their brakes can lead to a lock up, and inevitably, an uncontrollable slide. Keep in mind that it’s usually safer for riders to swerve and avoid than slam on their brakes.
When encountering one approaching an intersection, if they appear to be going fast, it’s better to let them through. Cut them off abruptly and you just might have them lock their brakes and slide into the side of your car. Give them as much room to slow down as you would a truck.
Give the rider space
This is the most important rule as motorcycles react differently to obstacles than cars. They’re more agile at low speeds but less so at higher speeds. Potholes, leaves, wet roads, or even lane markings that seem insignificant to cars can be slippery to bikes, so leave them some room when encountering these. Just because they’re smaller, it doesn’t give you the right to cut one off when overtaking. Give a motorcyclist more space than you would a car. Leaving more space also prevents you from crashing into them and possibly running them over in the event of an obstacle or sudden stop.
On sweeping turns, let them have the whole width of the lane. Riders tend to stay out on entry, bank more steeply in the middle of a turn, and straighten out on exit. Overtaking them on the inside of a turn leaves them little room to bank and will often cause them to overshoot.
Don’t be angry if one sticks in between you and another vehicle when turning into another road or crossing intersections. Many bikes position themselves beside vehicles in these situations because being T-boned by a rogue vehicle can be deadly. Instead, keep an eye on them and keep your movements progressive and predictable.
Signal your intentions
It’s difficult for a rider to judge what a car will do next. There’s no tell-tale lean, hand signal, or glance, that other riders would typically do. This is especially harder with cars that are heavily tinted. Indicate your intentions with signal lights long before your turn. At intersections, flash the headlights or a courtesy honk (a quick half-second beep) if there is a bike present. This reminds the rider that you’re there and alerts him that you are about to make a move.
Be wary of flashing signals
On bikes, the turn signal does not turn off automatically after a turn. Riders can sometimes forget it’s still on. When encountering a bike with a flashing signal, give him the benefit of the doubt and presume he’s turning. If you decide to overtake, do it on the side opposite of his indicator, flash your headlights or do a courtesy honk before doing so.
Turn your head
Another incident that often causes accidents is when departing the vehicle. A door suddenly opening in the path of a motorcycle or cyclist can cause serious physical harm. As such, before alighting from your vehicle, take a second to turn your head and look behind you. You’ll never know if a motorbike or bicycle could be in your blind spot.
As car drivers, it’s easy to dismiss any bike rider as a kamote, yet more often than not, most road altercations can be traced back to a lack of communication with other motorists. As such, when driving, keep an eye out not just for other cars and pedestrians but motorcyclists as well. Always signal your intentions, and be wary of how your driving can affect others on the road.