Countersteering, tailgating and roadrage.

Been riding a lot in the evening rush hour lately. I hate it. For a start it’s more of a mad 240 minute scramble. But when there are things to be done things get done. I’ve noticed a pattern of behaviour I don’t like . It starts with someone following too close. It’s always a Ford Focus, driven very aggressively and following very closely, particularly through sections where the traffic ahead of me is behaving unpredictably and eroding my braking distance. At some point I will need to turn off and will check behind me (as if i can see anything beyond ), indicate, change my position in the road, flash my brake light, then break and change gear ready to make the turn, perhaps being ready to stop or indeed stopping if it’s a right turn across oncoming traffic. Shoulder check in the direction of turn, and start turning, a nice tight precise turn to put me in the command position in the road I’m turning into, without cutting into lanes I shouldn’t be in. Then the tailgater passes me beating up their horn. I had assumed this was mere rage at being slowed down. Then I saw this:

Yes it’s yet more of a bike riding towards the camera along a white line. What I hadn’t noticed is how far the bike moves away from the direction of turn as countersteering takes place. And so I have a new theory: Expert tailgater has forced car into a space with no clearance and is then spooked as the bike appears to move back into the space that was vacated. I’m not sure whether to someone who doesn’t get bikes the act of turning looks like a rider might be changing their mind at the last minute, or whether there was a serious collision risk. So how to minimise the latter? I guess i could refuse to give up command of the road, that is staying in or near the centre of my lane, until I am committed to turn so that the tailgater cannot squeeze into a space that is too small. Or I push right into the gutter or onto the centre-line of the road and slow down more to allow more room. It’s not an issue that’s in any of my books. I’m for the former, choosing not to allow following vehicles past.

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In Australia it is probably impossible to ride a motorcycle legally.

Rule 271: Riding on motor bikes
(1) The rider of a motor bike that is moving (other than a rider who is walking beside and pushing a motorbike), or the rider of a motorbike that is stationary but not parked, must:

(a) sit astride the rider’s seat facing forwards; and
(b) ride with at least 1 hand on the handlebars; and
(c) if the motorbike is moving — keep both feet on the footrests designed for use by the rider of the motorbike.

This seems like what you do riding a motorcycle right? Right? Well most of the time yes. Let us examine the fallacies:

  • One must sit. No. Speedhumps, potholes, and rough terrain are often better tackled stood on the pegs, isolating body movement from bike movement. Furthermore moving body positions posterior and seat are frequently briefly detached. Being unable to shift weight around on a bike to aid cornering and breaking is very dangerous indeed.
  • Facing forward. Except when checking for other vehicles in areas unseen in mirrors. I’m quite fond of the looking over shoulder into the space I’m about to move into. My instructor calls this shoulder-checks or lifesavers. I think one is supposed to do that in cars too, but then one is supposed to use car mirrors.
  • keep both feet on the footrests There is this instantaneous transition between zero and nonzero velocity, it takes time to get feet onto footrests and doing so too quickly would upset the bike, similarly a smooth stop is achieved by bringing a foot down as the bike comes to a halt. Furthermore, it’s quite hard to keep contact with the pegs as one moves from a comfortable and controllable riding position to a position where a foot covers the brake pedal or is underneath or above the toe operated gearshift. Heal/toe shifters I think are completely impossible to use without some detachment of the foot. And then there is cornering on loose surfaces or at very low speeds where the done thing by trained riders is to extend the inside foot for balance. Lastly, at some point in a journey a quick stretch of a leg is most useful, and likely dangerous to suppress until the the motorcycle can be stopped as precise use of the foot controls is required to operate a motorcycle safely and the discomfort of cramp is very distracting.

This is what happens when people who have very little idea about how something works and do not consult properly with people who do get to make laws. Yes it’s quite obvious that feet go on pegs, bum goes on seat and one faces the direction of travel. That is not the same as this is required at all times for safe riding. At least they got the one hand on the bars thing correct. Visors need adjusting, hand signals need making, occasional non handlebar controls on bike may need adjusting.

Read more on this lunacy at http://motorbikewriter.com/kevin-bartlett-fights-stupid-motorcycle-rules