Outside Edge – 1-2018

Patience, Persistence and Perseverance

by George Tranos

You enter the intersection looking to turn left. There are two lanes in each direction, traffic is heavy and you look for a gap so you can cross safely. A small car is in the left lane and there might be a slight opening between it and a large moving van lumbering along behind it. It’s hard to see anything after the van as it blocks your line of sight beyond. Do you turn?

Statistics show that intersections are the most dangerous situation that motorcyclists encounter. They are the number one place where collisions between other vehicles and motorcycles occur. Many car drivers state they “never saw the bike” after these collisions happen. Putting yourself in a position where it is difficult to see and where there is a very small time and space cushion, you must continually ask yourself if the maneuver is worth the risk involved. You may save a few seconds on your journey, but you’re taking a big chance that someone out of your line of sight may enter the intersection and hit you.

Perhaps waiting to see more clearly after the moving van passes is the wiser choice. There may be a car passing the van on its right that you just don’t see. A few moments of patience may provide you with a much safer opportunity to turn.

Riders who drive in traffic on a regular basis see the impatience, negligence and plain incompetence of a portion of the driving public. These are the drivers that we must see first in order to survive. Not only will they normally not see us, they may actually aim at us if they do! We must be persistent in our powers of observation; constantly scanning ahead to identify potential hazards. Motorcyclists should develop a keen ability to search for situations that can turn into collision traps. Playing the “what if?” game can help you evaluate your surroundings and dictate your next move. Mentally anticipating a vehicle moving a certain way gives you more time and space to avoid circumstances from becoming critical.

Practicing stopping quickly and swerving to avoid an obstacle should be a regular part of your riding. If you take the time to practice, you will find that those skills are available in your riding toolkit to take out and use when necessary. If you observe that a driver is not stopping and will violate your right of way, then you will be prepared to take evasive action. Having practiced, you can then put your skills to use and stop quickly without locking either wheel.

Riding motorcycles well is a skill of the eyes and mind as well as the hands and feet. For us to survive and persevere we must practice both the mental as well as the physical skills of riding. Knowing that intersections are one of the most dangerous places, a rider should be more aware of the potential hazards that await them there.

My mother once told me that one of the keys to success in life is to practice the 3 P’s – patience, persistence and perseverance. This is especially true when riding a motorcycle. We must be patient when we ride and make good decisions. We must persist in our focus and power of observation. We must persevere by practice and applying our skills to preventing and then evading hazardous situations. Applying these principles can lead to a life of safe and enjoyable riding.

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