Stay Street Smart this weekend

Staying street smart isn’t just about wearing the right gear when you’re out riding.

It’s about keeping your wits about you so you are alert to potential dangers and trouble-spots.

Compared to other road users, motorcyclists have a disproportionately high risk of being involved in a crash – and with no protective cell around us, even slow-paced tumbles can have nasty outcomes.

That’s why you have to keep your wits about you at all times.


Identifying hazards

The safest riders are those who can sniff a hazard out at distance. Stay alert at all times - don’t let your concentration wander. Don’t keep your eyes focused on your instruments or the road just in front; scan the road far ahead of you and see what’s going on.

  • Is that van coming out from that side road? He’s been waiting patiently for some time… but is his patience about to snap?
  • Is that pedestrian thinking he can chance a dash across my path to catch the bus at the stop?
  • Is the speeding car that’s overtaking me going to cut in sharply to avoid the right turn only lane ahead… or will he give me some space?
  • Will those lights change before I get there… and if they are still on green for me, are there any other road users who might be amber gamblers, or straight red menaces?


In addition, look out for potential hazards that car and van drivers sometimes ignore. Debris in the road might be hiding a pothole or grid. Spot it early and you can take evasive action that doesn’t force you into a hasty manoeuvre. Potholes are to be avoided, but not by swerving the bike violently at the last minute.

What’s the visibility like? We’re not talking fog and mist here, we’re talking about clear lines of sight. When you’re riding in a city like London or Manchester it can be hard to spot dangers because the street furniture gets in the way.

No roads are without their lampposts, street signs and advertising A-boards, as well as loads of pedestrians. Are they obstructing your view of what’s ahead? Are there cars emerging from junctions, or traffic stopped by the roadside? If your view isn’t clear, drop your speed and give yourself more time to respond to dangers.

Finally, your peripheral vision is vital. Don’t just look straight ahead, keep your eyes peeled for hidden dangers at the edge of your vision. Your helmet and visor often compromise your view of what’s to your side, so make a conscious effort to turn your head regularly to see what’s on either side.

And remember your mirrors. If you’ve not checked them for 10 seconds to see what’s going on behind you… why?

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