How driving a car made me a better motorcyclist: Here’s what I learnt

As a biker, I started avoiding going too close to car blind spot areas and avoid going parallel to cars to use it as a shield.

BHPian chaitanyakrish recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

Hello All,

My love for cars started long back around the 90s and when my uncle got Hyundai Santro in 1998, it increased manifold.

We did many trips to places like Coorg, Bandipur, Mangalore etc., on the humble Santro and never faced space or safety issues. GNCAP was a alien concept back then. I remember an incident, while we are returning from Coorg at night, horn stopped working and we had to come all the way till Bangalore only by communicating with other drivers through changing high beam/low beam.

Fast forward to 2010s, I did lot of bike riding, after I joined an IT company, like many of us and did lot of bike riding at Hyderabad and Bangalore.
As a biker, we only used to see a gap on road, not concerned about blindspots etc.

I had met with an accident once, where I am going on my bike at around 60kmph as usual and there’s lot of mud due to heavy rain on a curve, and bike skidded and I fell down, hit the road hard and dragged for few meters and came to a stop. From the ground level, I could see a van going next to me.

The scratches on my helmet tell the story even now:

Lesson 1 : Wear a Good quality helmet. It will take all the scars to protect you.

Helmet protected me and had an ankle sprain for few weeks as the bike fell on my foot.

Now, coming to 2020s, I started driving my own car and I started realizing all the mistakes bike riders make, when we switch the point of view from biker to car driver.

The same traffic scene may appear differently to a car driver or a bike rider or a bus driver on the road, as each of them has a different vantage point and vehicular capability. Example, a bike can squeeze through a gap, but not a bus.

As a biker, a quick maneuver can give instant thrill, but what is the cost of the risk ? This is the question, every biker must think before venturing on roads.

Same applies to car drivers, as a driver, you may feel an instant adrenaline rush, but there can be a child sitting on the back seat, who may be thinking, how to play with their friends, once they get out of the car.

Never disappoint them, for a few minutes of pleasure. Safety of all passengers is the responsibility of the driver.

I like the dialogue from movie “Sully” where Tom Hanks says ” Engineers are not pilots ” .

This is the true essence of DevOps which is a buzzword in IT. Development Team keeps something in mind, while writing the code, only Operations Team knows, how the code is actually working in real world scenario and there’s a conflict between DEV and OPS due to this. DevOps brings both worlds together, where DEV understands how it is run and where it can go wrong.

In the movie “Sully”, only when they introduce a time factor of human thinking delay, the simulations of engineers will be accurate.

Similarly, bikers can understand problems of larger vehicles, only when they drive a car/bus/truck. Until then, bikers must follow basic ground rules to ensure roads are safe for all.

Cars and Bikes must co-exist on our roads as its not viable for everyone to buy cars / they may not need cars, and it also shows that, the public transport infrastructure is bad.

There will be situations on roads, where cars and bikes must share space and only when the bikers think, from the shoes of the truck driver of car driver, they can understand, whether a maneuver is safe or not.

So, let me put some example scenarios, where a car and a bike confront with each other and a potential conflict scenario can arise:

Lane change: For a car driver, the space adjacent to the car which is not visible in the ORVM and is a blind spot. So, if I am a car driver, I have to do a shoulder check to see if anyone is the blindspot, before changing lanes.

Not every car driver does a shoulder check, so to be safe, avoid driving near blind spots for longer duration.

Same applies while going around buses or other heavy vehicles as well.

Tip: As a biker, I started avoiding going too close to car blind spot areas and avoid going parallel to cars to use it as a shield.

Example, look at this biker riding in the blind spot of a truck, which is dangerous.

And another example here.

Cutting lanes: While driving car, we need to keep in mind of braking distance to avoid hitting vehicles in front. The biggest threat to car drivers is bikers suddenly cutting lanes and causing collisions.

Tip: As a biker, I started understanding braking distances of car based on the speed of the car, and completely stopped cutting lanes right in front of cars. Bikers need to give enough space ahead, for the car or bus to slowdown and cut lanes only after giving proper indicator.

Overtaking: Sometimes, when I turn on indicator, bikers speed up and overtake me from the same side, from which I’m turning. As a biker now, I started observe the indicators, wheel direction before overtaking vehicles. Avoid overtaking from the the same direction to which the vehicle is turning.

Tip: Example, look at this biker overtaking a bus from the right, which is moving right.

Another, why did the biker speed up ? He might have thought, the lady can slowdown the traffic and he wanted to escape. But see the result.

Turning: As a car driver, as long as I’m going straight, there’s no problem with any vehicle. Assume, I’m trying to take a U turn. I will turn on indicator. This is when the bikers start overtaking me from the same side to which I’m turning, assuming I will take some of their space on the road.

This causes lot of discomfort and can cause potential accidents, if the car driver doesn’t do shoulder check. Every vehicle has a different turning radius and bikers must know that.

Tip: If a car/bus/any vehicle is turning, I’m waiting if I’m on a bike and bikers must wait for it to complete the turn or drive from the other side.

Intersections or Junctions: Intersections are the place where there will be lot of cross traffic and potential for T-bone accidents.

Intersections are 2 types:

  • Controlled Intersections : These are controlled by traffic lights or traffic police. As a car driver, once I got a green signal, I must watch out for occasional signal jumpers coming across.

Bikers must avoid jumping signals.

  • Uncontrolled Intersections : This is where it turns more tricky, as each driver/rider must take decisions in sync with others.

A little game theory and Nash equilibrium will help, where all of us must get a favorable outcome considering each other’s responses.

Tip: Here, bikers are the most vulnerable road users. So, they must yield and give way.

Check out another example here.

Few days back, when I stopped at a Y junction to give way to a car, he was looking at me strangely as if I’m an alien.

Rear ending cars: Sometimes when I’m driving a car, I used to notice some bikers using me as a sweeper car, where I will create way for them and they can drive peacefully behind me.

As a car driver, this puts additional responsibility on my shoulder to ensure, I consider their stopping distance also to avoid them rear ending me, If I had to brake to avoid a frontal collision.

Tip: As a biker, I stopped following cars too closely considering their braking distance. Bikers must ensure, they don’t follow vehicles too close as they can rear end easily.

Bike riding is fun, provided above mentioned safety precautions are taken. Always wear a good quality helmet and ensure extra protection gear like chest guard etc, in case if driving in risky conditions.

Follow safe driving practices.

Check out BHPian comments for more insights and information.

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