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How to Stay Alive When Riding Your Motorcycle in the CityIf you have a motorcycle, it is likely that you had to take a motorcycle safety course. Riding around in the city brings with it a lot of dangers and there is a high likelihood that you have had to use some or all of your training if you frequently ride your motorcycle in the city. You may need to brush up on your motorcycle safety training, which is why we have created a quick guide to survive riding in the city.

Visibility is critical to staying safe

Riding a motorcycle has been compared to riding around wearing an invisibility cloak because you must always assume that no one can see you. A motorcycle rider can have all of the required and suggested gear and still not be seen by other drivers. Some of this gear can consist of:

  • Reflective tape
  • Reflective jacket
  • Modulated headlights

It seems that even with this gear affixed to your motorcycle and your body, other drivers can still miss you. Another way that you can try to make it through the city is by making yourself more “unhittable.” This means always positioning yourself where other drivers have a higher chance of seeing you.

Avoid driving directly next to another car, instead ride in the direct line of sight of the car directly behind you. Do not risk riding in an area where they must use their peripheral vision as people are known to not check their blind spots. You must also be aware of what is directly in front of you. Some things to keep in mind when riding are:

  • Be visible to the car behind you
  • Do not stay in a driver’s blind spot
  • Watch the car’s front wheel
  • Always assume that cars will merge with no signal or warning

You must be aware of what every driver in your vicinity is doing. If you fail to pay attention and an accident occurs, you will more than likely suffer the most severe injuries. Maintain a safe following distance and always stay visible. Even with these precautions, you may still be involved in an accident, but it may be less life-threatening and less likely.

Use intersections to your advantage

Keeping in mind that most drivers are not looking for motorcycles when they are driving, there are also precautions you should take when reaching an intersection. The most important is following at a safe distance. The largest cause of accidents involving a car and a motorcycle are left turns at intersections. When we say left turns, we are referring to turns made by other cars, not by motorcyclists.

A person making a left turn may only see the car in front of you if you are following too closely. Once they feel the car has cleared their path, they will complete their turn. If you were hiding in the shadows or on the bumper of the vehicle in front of you, your chances of being seen by a left-turning vehicle are drastically reduced. Studies have even found that car drivers do not see motorcycles as a threat while driving and do not always look for them when completing a turn.

One way to catch the eye of a left-turning vehicle is to make yourself visible in the line of sight. You do so by making a slight weave in your lane. This allows them to see your headlights and know that there is a vehicle approaching. Another helpful tip is to cross an intersection with a buddy car. The car may not even realize this is what you are doing as you will simply be using them as a shield of sorts.

When you are reaching an intersection, try to ride next to a car that can protect you from any vehicles that might be making a left turn. You must do this carefully as riding next to a car can also be dangerous. Always use your turn signals so other drivers know exactly what your intentions are.

Always be aware of the empty spaces around you

Find yourself some “escape lanes,” so if the need arises you can escape a potentially dangerous situation. There are two main reasons an escape lane may come in handy. The first is when at an intersection, the car behind you does not seem to be coming to a stop and there is a car in front of you. As a motorcycle rider, you will be the middle part of this sandwich. Knowing where an escape lane is allows you to prepare for this type of incident and maneuver to avoid it.

The second circumstance that an escape lane may come into use is when you need to move out of harm’s way whether it be due to a hazard on the road or a reckless driver. You should try to ride in lanes near bike paths or a painted median. Do not ride near raised medians as this can have the opposite effect. You must always remember that escape lanes are not actual lanes, and they will change with every inch you drive. That is why it is crucial that you are always paying attention to your surroundings.

As many drivers and riders know, some accidents cannot be avoided no matter how hard you try. If you have been involved in an accident you will need to seek medical attention and contact Gainsberg Law, P.C. Call our office in Chicago at 312-600-9585, or complete a contact form to schedule an appointment. We serve clients throughout Cook County.