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Blind car drivers? It's your fault. Really, it is

Thu, 23 Sep 2010

Be seen, you

Making car drivers see you is an art form that you learn from experience and narrow scrapes.

It’s a fact of riding a bike that you’re harder to see than a double decker bus, it’s obvious isn’t it? You're small, fast and mostly, totally obscured by the average A-pillar.

As an antidote to this, some people take the high-viz route and with enough dedication it’s quite easy to look like a cross between a radioactive lollipop woman and an IAM instructor’s instructor. Each to their own.

I’ve sort of developed my own technique of being seen and it’s largely based on placing yourself and your bike in the part of road that makes you the most visible to the hazards that you spot and anticipate – if that makes sense?

When I was an arrogant seventeen year old (as opposed to an arrogant 45 year old) I believed that blind faith in my own ability would protect me. Several impacts with cows (x2), sheep (1) and cars (3) were enough to prove me wrong – not that I realized it at the time. I blamed farmer’s fencing in poor repair and myopic car drivers without realizing that, all along, it was my fault.

To ride a bike quickly and safely you have to be part mind reader, part paranoid and part clairvoyant. Oh, and super smooth and predictable. To think ‘oh, I just knew he was going to do that’ is a winning thought. Prediction is a life saver.

Obviously there are things to help you predict. Like any cod mind-reader/spiritualist/magician there are tools out there to help you along the way. Let's call it cheating.

Road signs are an obvious one. How many time have you piled through a blind corner on the edge of side grip only to discover a car pulling out of a junction just past the apex. The fact that they started pulling out before you even arrived in view makes it your fault. The sign was there to warn you that a junction lay around the turn. I’ll labour the point no more.

Riding into work this morning – and I know this is a dangerous thing to say, not wanting to tempt fate and all taht – I was amazed by how few cars were chopping me up. Then I remembered that my bike is fitted with LED lights in the front of the wing mirrors. Honda claim it’s part of their ‘face recongnition’ technology. Apparently human beings are programmed to sit up and take notice of anything resembling a face and the LED lights in the front of my wing mirrors are they ‘eyes’ of my VFR’s ‘face’. If I was still seventeen I’d probably believe that it was just my razor sharp reactions keeping me out of trouble but now I’m starting to believe that they may be onto something…

How do you avoid trouble? Would love to hear your tips…

By mark forsyth

See also: Mahindra teaser video revealed, Get down on your knees and play, You want a nice little car, you do..