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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
In a year two people I know have cut their life short on a bike. Without going into detail of what happened I'd like to address what good habits we can use instead. I'll start but please throw in when you can.

FRONT BRAKE: The front brake has 80% of your stopping power and as you brake, even more weight gets transferred forward ... it can be ALL of your braking force.
Use it as your first reaction - heard way too many times "I'm saving the front brake for when I really need it".
I Swapped my Ducati with a Harley riding friend last year. I was in the lead trying to guide this 900 Ibs thru some twisties when it was noticed that my bike was not following? Go back to find the dude on my bike had missed the first turn ... sitting in the weeds he said "Your foot pegs are too high to brake ...I know you tell me to use the front brake but ..." Nuf said there.
As a road racer I never bothered with the (rear brake) at all .... still don’t.


ARRIVING AT INTERSECTIONS: Either accelerate or slow to follow a car/truck closely thru intersections to avoid someone doing the left hand turn in front of you. Do this while hand is on brake most times. Without lead vehicle protection I sit up straighter and stare at oncoming driver - eye contact can be felt, I think? Don't trust anyone.

THROWING IT AWAY: What? ... WHAT? We have all heard this at least once "I had to put it down".
Never ever give up ... if you (think you are) too deep in a corner just hang on and lean more. Those tires and your bike are more capable than you think. Safer to be in control than tumbling down the road. This brings up the definition of the word "rectifier" sliding down the road at speed in a seated position.... and you thought it was an electrical term.

Was behind a rider and his wife on her own bike. She was obviously a novice as he showed her how to do things.
He rode along for about 2 miles in the blind spot of an elderly woman ... from my perch it looked like trouble.
Yup the woman changed lanes and he got nearly knocked over. He gets all animated and outraged. At the stop light he sez to me “did you see that?” Yes I did and never teach her to ride in a blind spot like that (motioning over to the wife). Guess I was supposed to side with him?
 

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I would also like to stress the importance of lane position and blocking. If you are on the wrong side of the lane you are a target for another car to stuff you into the side of the road as he can't see you if you are in the wrong lane position.

Also, it's much safer to just stay in the #3 (far right) lane when on the freeway/highway?! That is were I spend the vast majority of my riding time; I can pass and travel faster than 80% of the other traffic, I can quickly get off the roadway if there is an emergency, and my risk of colliding with another vehicle is reduced by 50%.
 

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In addition to eye contact at intersections, I always make sure I add some lateral movement to my headlight. it might be a small lane shift, or a waggle of the handlebars. I believe a light that is moving side to side sends a very different notice to the stopped car driver than a static pencil beam of oncoming light (which could be a high beam 300 meters away or a low beam 100 meters out). I like the Duke's handlebar attached lights for their movement.

I also think flashing one's lights is risky in that some card drivers may take it to mean "I see you, go ahead".

Lee
 

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One more on not just being seen but seeing better:

Clean visor (of course)

If you ride with sunglasses, consider getting non-polarized lenses to avoid the shimmering color effect (called Moire effects) of looking through polarized lenses AND through a curved face shield which also partially polarizes light. Some LCD dashboards are very hard to read with polarized lenses too.

I asked my optometrist about this and she said "Of course, that is what all pilots get" They basicall take lexan lenses and dye the plastic to different levels of opacity to physically block light transmission. I really like the neutral gray tint as it doesn't affect colors, just reduces the amount of light getting through.

Lee
 

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Rehearse action

With not over doing it to spoil your ride, rehearse what that car ahead might do and what's your options to avoid a collision by stopping, accelerating, swerving, jumping a curb, and so on.
 

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Keep a safe braking distance, you never know what's going to suddenly stop in the middle of the road. I recently learnt the hard way, as a few of you would've read in one of our Aussie ride reports.
If I had given myself an extra 2 metres of braking distance when @Sungod Racing and myself were getting enthusiastic, I would've avoided contact.
 

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Keep a safe braking distance, you never know what's going to suddenly stop in the middle of the road. I recently learnt the hard way, as a few of you would've read in one of our Aussie ride reports.
If I had given myself an extra 2 metres of braking distance when @Sungod Racing and myself were getting enthusiastic, I would've avoided contact.
The old "Time, Space and Vision" mantra from defensive driving training applies to all vehicle types and the vast majority of situations. I have never crashed into space.
 

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The old "Time, Space and Vision" mantra from defensive driving training applies to all vehicle types and the vast majority of situations. I have never crashed into space.
What the dickens is defensive driver training????:p

You guys would've got your licenses off the back of corn flake boxes in those days ay?
 

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What the dickens is defensive driver training????:p

You guys would've got your licenses off the back of corn flake boxes in those days ay?
Oh goodness me young @DW ...... showing the lack of depth in Queensland licencing system again. Defensive Driving Training is training drivers in the fine art of driving without having anyone hit them, or having them hit anyone else.

Applying the training helps minimise situations like having to ride into the table drain to avoid old mate cocky doing a U turn in front of you .. or being just a couple of meters short of stopping distance.

It is compulsory for employees in the Mining / Oil and Gas Industries. Defensive Driver Training, Fleet Management systems and Vehicle Tracking systems kept me gainfully employed, and terminally afraid, for much of the last 13 years in some of the (not so) beautiful parts of the world ... the desert in Libya, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the PNG Highlands. Oman was actually very nice, I liked it there.

You eat Cornflakes don't you? There is a Cornflakes packet in your pantry, surely? 🚑
 

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Yeah, qld license is easy. Ride the copper down to the pub and back for a 6 pack and they just write you out a license.
 

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When riding in fast traffic, proximity and line-of-sight is very important. I try to stay in an open space away from other vehicles where I can see the road ahead. When you're riding behind a 4-wheeler, you have a good chance of hitting anything they just straddle and drive over. And never spend too much time behind or beside 18-wheelers. The turbulence they create is awful and if one of their pos recaps blows, it can take you off the road or you could run over one of the black gators they shed.
 

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Hi Folks: Lots of good info on here. I thought I would cut and paste an article I wrote and published in the BMW magazine a while back on motorcycle-deer collisions. It is longish but you can skim or skip. It generated a fair bit of complimentary feedback. The Calif. Highway Patrol picked it up and re-ran it later, then some newspapers. It is the right time of year (fall rut) to think about this stuff. Be safe.
Lee


Motorcycle-Deer Collisions Through a Biologist Biker’s Eyes

The velvet covered branches were bobbing in the grass moving parallel to the highway . . . why? There was something underneath them, it had eyes, it was a buck mule deer running through tall grass parallel to the roadway. It all seemed so surreal. My right hand had a mind of its own and said “Hit the binders NOW you fool!” So I grabbed a big handful of front discs and hauled down to about 55 mph just as the buck touched pavement and arced through the air at such a trajectory that I I could have shaken hands with his trailing hooves. I had almost achieved every motorcyclist’s nightmare. Despite all the advanced training, emergency braking practice, bike setup, and extra vigilance, deer seem to be a wild-card risk that can still leap out and bash any biker. This set me thinking. I am a wildlife biologist, big game hunter and a long distance motorcyclist, so maybe I dwell on these things more than most. I also know there is a vast wealth of motorcyclist knowledge, experience and a little mythology out there on deer and motorcycles. Here is one perspective, a few statistics, along with some wildlife biology thrown in. The statistics are telling – deer numbers have climbed to epic proportions with some 30 million in the US alone, which is about 60 times as many as the nation had in 1925. Thank protection, agricultural foods and predator removal. At least 10 states have deer populations numbering at least 20 percent of the state’s total human population. The problem for motorists is clear: we hit deer in staggering numbers, over one million times in 2010, according to State Farm Insurance statistics. Although miles driven increased 2 percent between 2008 and 2010, reported deer collisions increased tenfold. It seems to hinge partly on the numbers of deer. Over 200 human deaths per year are attributed to deer collisions, making them the most dangerous wildlife in North America, hundreds of times more deaths than caused by sharks. Interestingly, cell phones are 80 times more dangerous than deer with 16,000 deaths caused per year by drivers chatting and driving. For motorcyclists, the statistics are not good. On average, motorcycle-deer collisions end worse than car-deer collisions with motorcyclists representing about 70 percent of the human deaths from deer collisions despite the lower numbers of motorcyclists and riding being a seasonal activity in much of the country. The often published advice to motorcyclists, while accurate, is boringly consistent in its repetition – install good lights, don’t ride at dusk and dawn, beware the November breeding season, be alert, and slow down. But is there more that we can learn to reduce our risks? Maybe. To make sense of the seemingly erratic reactions of deer, it helps to put oneself in the deer’s shoes, or hooves, as it may be. What options do they perceive and what might motivate them to do what they are doing? Why are deer at the roadside in the first place? Deer meet their biological needs of food, water, shelter and social activity in different areas which means they must travel locally each day. Often deer-crossing sites are a quirk of geology, fences, food supplies or river valleys that channel deer to certain logical crossing sites as effectively as bridges and crosswalks channel humans. Deer hunters understand the consistency of these daily patterns of movement and call them “funnels.” The probability of encounter is much higher here, and such sites deserve extra alertness. Deer-crossing sign or not, you can detect these areas even in dim or dark conditions. For example, watch closely when the land flattens out along a river bottom; when a solitary line of trees crosses the prairie; where a field edge abuts a forest edge, or; when a rock wall canyon finally has a traversable break in the landscape. Travelling, running or traffic-nervous deer are a real handful because they make adrenaline-fueled dashes that could be on a collision course with your bike. The blue-green phosphorescent glow of their eyes is often still and staring at you as you approach. Even if you spot the deer, you may not see those eyes drop to a single eye shine as the deer turns, dips and dashes out. A second category of deer-crossings occurs when deer are drawn to roadsides to feed. Interestingly, and foolishly, roadsides are often planted in nutritious mixes of ground cover such as clover, dandelions, kudzu, mustards and low leafy greens. They are sometimes fertilized to ensure good soil coverage, they get full sunlight and are mowed to keep them in tender re-growth condition. Furthermore, browsing competition from grazing livestock is excluded by fences – a real deer smorgasbord! Roadside deer that are feeding are often in a very different headspace, rather stomach-space, than travelling deer. These individuals may be completely comfortable with traffic and will be spending a lot of time in head-down eating mode. Their eye movement is generally more relaxed and eye shine may be near ground level or moving up and 4 down smoothly. Still, they may wander out into the roadway as if they owned it. It is still worth slowing and watching them carefully in case your eye shine analysis at 80 feet per second is flawed. The seemingly goofy things deer do right before running into you are often carefully calculated by the deer to avoid contact. The problem is, their math is off. It is as if they are doing their calculations in SAE for a metric world. Those deer lineages that have survived in North America since the last ice age carry in their DNA the instinctive escape mechanisms to avoid predators such as wolves, coyotes, mountain lions, human pursuers and even extinct short-faced bears and saber-toothed cats. This ancient and instinctive “memory” of pursuit is the reason sometimes given for the excessively evolved fleetness of North American Pronghorn (sometimes called antelope) who can run far faster than is needed to escape any existing predator. Their speed is probably a holdover from the era 15,000 years ago when there actually WERE North American versions of cheetahs giving them a run for their money. All prey species have what is called a “flight threshold” and such distances are pretty obvious for various species. Birders and hunters know that when hunted, Wild Turkeys flee at more than 200 meters, yet in the same conditions, Bobwhite Quail wait in concealment until they are almost stepped on before flying. When a threat gets to the fringe of an animal’s comfort zone, they move away. If the threat leaps up well inside their comfort zone, like a springing cat or chasing wolf, the prey often rapidly re-prioritizes -which looks a lot like panic- as it dashes away. Flushed prey typically dash toward safety, even if that known safety is back on the other side the road they just crossed. Bang! So, to put these pieces together: deer perceive your motorcycle at some great distance and in short order, you have penetrated their comfort zone, and mere moments later you pose a full-on threat, causing a massive deer panic. Really now, what options did the deer have? Yes, it could simply stand still, trusting your charging, snarling predaceous motorcycle would bear down on it but ultimately, not press the charge, right? Now imagine you are standing in the open watching a charging bull or grizzly bear run directly at you. Would your nerves let you stand still and say “Oh, it will veer off at the last minute.” When a deer sees say a BMW R1200 GS racing forward at 60 mph on an acute closing angle to his escape route, his evolutionary triangulation might say “Dash across this long black flat rock and into the trees before the shiny growling thingie gets its teeth into you!” The deer is not too concerned at first. After all, your bike is still 50 yards away, and he knows from instinct and experience that with such a generous lead he can outrun anything on two or four legs. The problem is deer have simply not evolved around wheels or with anything that can cover 50 yards in two seconds. As we motor into their inner sanctum of evasion, they sometimes freak out and make bad directional decisions into our travel path. They make it look almost deliberate sometimes. Those deer that survive traffic for a few years can learn, however. Like people living near train tracks who stop hearing trains with time, deer undergo a process called “habituation” where they ignore traffic, having learned that they can indeed safely munch clover a mere 3 meters from a busy interstate. There is some suggestion that fawns can learn this from their moms, too. Such learning takes time and repeated exposure, however. Few people realize how differently time is measured in deer years. A 10-year old deer is ancient, and most die by gun, bumper or fang in their first 18 months. Few of the deer encountered along roadways are over three years of age and, thus, simply haven’t had the time to learn all about the vagaries of traffic patterns. Would you trust your 3-year-old in traffic? Heck, I worry about my teenagers! Still, some old does will stand still and watch for gaps in the traffic before crossing roads, thereby showing evidence of learning. The fawns and yearlings following her though haven’t a clue initially. The older bucks too may dodge cars until October and November roll around, then, the creeping power of testosterone converts their priorities. Their typical focus on concealment and survival is supplanted by horniness. They are like 18-year old boys at a seashore bikini party where the daiquiris and tequila shots are free. Bucks in this condition can’t be bothered with bullets, arrows or motorcycles because the breeding season is short. Priorities baby, priorities. As they cast about seeking breeding opportunities, the bucks’ range and daily rate of travel more than doubles, their movements are more direct and more scent-focused, so they may ignore traffic. They follow does into habitats unfamiliar to them and when frightened, may dash off in random directions seeking escape, even if this carries them through sliding glass doors, fences, into water wells or right into traffic. Of our deer species, white-tailed deer appear the riskiest because of their dashing behavior, because they prefer dense cover, and because they occupy every U.S. state except Utah. Mule deer and black-tailed deer of the 5 western states are a little calmer and tend to use more open habitats. Deer size varies ten-fold from the diminutive 25 habitats. Deer size varies ten-fold from the diminutive 25pound Key deer in Florida to the 250 pound boreal subspecies. Elk, moose, and pronghorns have their own idiosyncrasies, too. Elk are big, tall, very social and make large movements well into the dark hours each night to reach feeding areas. They are fond of agricultural fields and hay stacks and readily cross roads. It is possible to ride into a herd of them in the dark. Moose are even bigger, taller, blacker, less gregarious, and are darned near invisible in the dark. Their fur seems to absorb light but their four white stocking feet may shine in a very disorienting way. They are less agile and more phlegmatic, standing still in the roadway at times. One does not think to look upward at dangerous animals, but moose can reach 7 feet tall at the antler tips. Pronghorn are smaller animals of the wide open country. They run tremendously fast and move sort of arrow-like, meaning they are not so prone to rapid changes of direction. In some states it is illegal to hunt pronghorn within 500 yards of a roadway, hence they often congregate in this safety zone. Don’t even get me started on bison, cattle or horses on the roadways. Hit one of these and you just had a really bad day. Reducing a motorcyclist’s risk is part situation analysis, part planning around probabilities and part rider reaction. Learn to recognize the high-risk situations or slow down during the dawn and sunset periods when the hoofed crowd is most active. This activity pattern is called crepuscular – a great scrabble word with a nasty ring to it. Learn your common routes and build a mental map of high wildlife-use areas. One road outside of Butte, Montana is popularly called “Venison Alley.” The probability planning part is using your mental maps to adjust to the changes in risks, route selection, traction and visibility. In low-light conditions, consider using a truck 2 seconds ahead in your lane as a rolling shield. Even if you prefer the outer tire track for travel, consider shifting to the middle tire track to add a meter of escape distance and center yourself from roadside deer. Really good gear will help a lot in contact with hard antlers, hooves and bones but also shield you from some abrasion in the tarmac slide that might follow a collision. The rider reaction part involves developing a preventative search image for roadside deer – look for ears, the horizontal line of the back, the raised white tail on white-tails, or the cream-coloured rump patch on mule deer. At night look for chest-high reflective eyes that shine liquid blue green. Practice this identification when you see deer. Learn to read deer behavior, but don’t completely trust it. Deer must have adrenal glands the size of softballs, and alarmed deer behave totally differently from relaxed feeding deer. They can go from stony immobility to flat out sprint in a blink of an eye. Fear the alarmed deer’s sudden reactions. In sudden deer encounters, I recommend you slow rapidly enough to chirp your front tire or activate your anti-lock sensors, especially when you see deer moving toward your travel path. This is controversial, however; some say keep a steady throttle to avoid provoking evasive reactions. I prefer to scrub off speed enough to provide more time and options for evasion or, at worst, to reduce speed at contact. Watch the deer’s movement, direction and pattern and remain aware that an unseen second, third or tenth deer may be following the first one across the road. Finally, if a collision seems a strong possibility, steer away from the animal’s head and toward the rear of the animal (assuming no oncoming traffic complications). Deer have a weak reverse gear and can’t pivot quickly on slippery tarmac. She may clear out of the way forward at the last minute. If, despite all this, a collision seems inevitable, get the bike straight and stable, stay on the brakes until the last instant when you need your gyroscopic stability, brace, and try to stay upright. Many have hit deer and not gone down thereby avoiding the roadrelated injuries and additional bike damage. It might even be worthwhile ducking and letting pieces roll over you if the deer is mid-leap. Sometimes they squat like an NBA Center for a big bound which allows the bike to roll over them; even though you may bend forks, catch some air or get a little tangled up, it is better than a deer in the chest. Watch some You Tube video recordings to get a sense of the speed and violence of motorcycle-deer collisions. I am guessing you will want to slow down, too. I have seen no evidence that horns, flashing lights or deer whistles work to move deer away; however, if they increase your awareness as reminders, they may have value that way. It is only polite to warn oncoming motorists that there are deer in the road. I like to flash my high beams and put my hands up on my helmet like antlers. They will figure it out. There are some things in motorcycling for which you simply cannot be fully prepared, like oil spills on the highway, flying debris from oncoming traffic, rain that morphs into hail, or deer erupting from a brushy roadside. Think about it and put as much in your favor as possible. Good luck and I hope you don’t get your deer this year Dr. Lee Foote.
 

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All that for this:
There are some things in motorcycling for which you simply cannot be fully prepared, like oil spills on the highway, flying debris from oncoming traffic, rain that morphs into hail, or deer erupting from a brushy roadside.

There are thousands of deer around here and it helps to know where they run. They are creatures of habit and millennia of repetitious trail-running. I have a piece of the oldest road in this county on my property. It started as a deer run, then the natives chased the deer then the white folks and the natives chased each other. When the County built a new road and bridge, the deer cross in the same place they did before there were natives, white folks or bridges.

If you are in unfamiliar territory, the only things you can do are be aware (easy on a bike) and keep a finger on the button of a very loud horn. I have scared dogs, deer and small children away from the road with mine. It's not foolproof, but it's better than closing your eyes and waiting for the collision.
 

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Another dangerous place you should be hyper-aware of is fast interchange ramps. They are perfect places for a newly-filled side tank of diesel to sling a slick of fuel.

Riding to Pennsylvania a few years ago, I was changing Interstates in Columbus, Ohio. On a fully-loaded bike (likely approaching 1000 lbs GVWR) I was looking over my shoulder to assess the speed of the merging traffic when I hit a slick and was nearly completely sideways before regaining control. Took a few minutes of droning to get my heart rate back to normal.
 

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I have 3 boys who ride. (The 4'th one tried, but prefers cars) Three things I taught them straight away that have served me well:
  • How to counter steer.
  • Everybody is out to get you!
  • Always have an escape plan!
 
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