TEAM Arizona Motorcycle Riding Tip: Be Seen At Intersections
TEAM Arizona Motorcycle Riding Tip:
How To Manage Intersections P2 – Be Seen At Intersections
Just as motorcycle lane position is a critical part of intersection management, so is making sure you’re visible to other drivers. Intersections are dangerous for motorcycle riders but optimizing your visibility to other drivers can go a long way toward preventing accidents and saving your life. Skilled motorcycle riding experts know what it takes to maintain their vision of the road while also making sure everyone else has a good view of them.
We call this process, “metacognition.” Put yourself in the driver’s seat of each of the vehicles around you and ask if they can see you. The answer to this question should always be yes. Another term that is especially important when it comes to intersection management for motorcyclists is “presentation.” Present yourself in a way that makes your presence as obvious as possible. When everyone is completely aware of your presence, it’s less likely that you’ll be involved in a motorcycle crash at the intersection.
Lane Selection and Intersection Management
If you’re on a smaller road, you may only have one lane to choose from. Even when you’re in the only lane, there are still options as far as how you can position yourself. We’ll go into more detail about that in a moment, but first, it’s important to decide which lane to choose when you’re approaching a larger intersection. When you consider some of the roads in Phoenix and other large cities in Arizona, there may be multiple lanes at your disposal as you approach an intersection.
In most cases, motorcyclists find that the left lane is among the safest for them because we can easily be seen in that position. Staying in the left lane will help put extra distance between any other vehicles merging or turning onto your street. Drivers are notoriously bad about checking for motorcycles before they turn, which is why so many accidents at intersections involve motorcycles. Of course, it’s also important to make sure you have plenty of time to get to the appropriate lane if you need to make a turn soon.
Motorcycle Lane Position
Once you’ve decided which lane is most appropriate for you, it’s time to find the right spot within that lane. Unlike cars, trucks, and SUVs, motorcycles can maneuver within a lane without encroaching on anyone else’s space. Motorcycle riding trainers normally talk about breaking the lane up into thirds. In other words, we talk about the left side of the lane, the right side of the lane, and the center of the lane.
As a general rule, it’s best to stay in the third of the lane that allows you the best opportunity to see and be seen. You also need to choose a position that keeps you farthest away from the nearest vehicle. Choosing the best lane position is a constant, dynamic activity and always a compromise between seeing/being seen and keeping a safety margin around us. There are times, especially on a single lane roadway, when traveling in the center or right portion of the lane is valuable because it gives us more room.
Choosing correct lanes and lane positions will give you more escape routes and more time to react. If another vehicle starts to creep over into your lane, being farther away from them will give you time and space to take action of your own to keep yourself out of harm’s way. It’s important to make an informed decision about your lane positioning and how your position will help with your presentation to the other vehicles. A focused approach is much safer than simply floating aimlessly throughout the lane.
Passing might not seem like a high-risk activity because you’re simply moving your vehicle around another vehicle. In that respect, passing someone while on your motorcycle is just like passing in any other type of vehicle. The big difference here is that motorcyclists are at an even greater risk of getting lost in another driver’s blind spot. When we talk about the concept of presentation, it’s especially important while passing.
Think about the other drivers near you and where their blind spots are. Use your signals, mirrors, and check your own blind spots while also being aware of when other drivers might lose you in their own mirrors. Try to minimize the time you spend in another driver’s blind spot before you get in front of them where they can see you again. Make sure there’s plenty of room to fit safely in front of the vehicle you pass without forcing them to alter their speed or slam on their brakes.
Turning a Motorcycle at an Intersection
One of the biggest things new riders need to work on with motorcycle intersection management is turning. Some inexperienced motorcyclists say their turns seem to sneak up on them, making it hard to anticipate when it’s time to get ready for a turn. When you have to turn off the street, it’s best and safest to be ready well in advance. Avoid waiting until the last minute to setup for your turn as we see crashes result from improper entry speed or lane position. The result is going out wide into another lane and possibly into another motorist.
Getting into the correct lane in advance of your turn will help you be prepared, and it’s also courteous to other drivers. Other drivers may feel stressed if you start to change lanes very suddenly, and people are more likely to get into an accident when they’re overwhelmed. Once you get into the correct lane, it’s also time to reconsider your positioning within the lane.
When you’re preparing for a turn, you don’t want to be too close to other vehicles, as we discussed before. At the same time, though, you don’t want to be so far to the side of the lane that you leave yourself too little room to maneuver.Plan the line selection of your turn in advance and make sure you have enough space to execute the turn successfully. Most motorcyclists find that using an outside-inside-outside path of travel is easiest for them, but it depends on various factors like your skill level, roadway conditions, motorists, and the type of turn you have to make. A middle-middle-middle path of travel is a conservative line selction to make and can be helpful in many situations.
Intersection Management and Vision
Here at TEAM Arizona, our motorcycle riding classes are designed to benefit riders with any level of experience. Our experienced motorcycle rider coaches will help you learn about motorcycle lane position, intersection management, and how to optimize visibility on the road. Feel free to check our online resources to uncover more tips or sign up for one of our classes to get personalized training and attention.
Bill Seltzer has been a Motorcycle Safety Foundation RiderCoach since 2003 and a Total Control Advanced Riding Instructor since 2011. He currently serves as the Marketing Director for TEAM Arizona and is a member of the Arizona Strategic Highway Safety Planning committee. Have questions or comments about the article? Email him: Bill@MotorcycleTraining.com