Sep 30, 2006

Commuting Lesson #2.2: Position

Detail 1: Parallel
I think I've expounded on this before. But always try to avoid running parallel to vehicles. Especially big ones. When you run parallel to a vehicle, you effectively need its driver to turn his head to spot you. You're not in his sightline, and out of his mirrors. It's a fatal place to ride. Get out of there. By overtaking of hanging back. But it isn't safe. At all. So, if there is a car or truck running at the same pace as you in the next lane as you, you want to be out of that place ASAP.

Detail 2: Corners
When you're making a lane change around a vehicle to overtake, I find that not coming around the vehicles corner on the throttle is a big help. I'll tell you why. Once, riding to work on my RD in Delhi, I came around a slow car in the middle lane and pulled accelerating hard into the top lane. Only to find it blocked by a garbage cart. It took a lot of luck to escape a sure crash. But had I come into that situation with the weight of the bike on the front, I could have braked to a stop in time. What you want to do is accelerate out of your space, then roll of the throttle until you can see all of the lane you intend to take up space in and only then make the next input - steering, brake or throttle. In most situations, this is a momentary 'break' in the process, and you won't take any extra time, or confuse anyone around you either.

Detail 3: Mirrors
You do check your mirrors regularly, right? I find myself remembering what I saw and subconsciously comparing the old image with the new one. This helps me keep track of what's behind and I believe it helps plan the way ahead hugely. But more importantly, you need to be absolutely certain where your blind spots are. If that means nagging the girlfriend into standing in various places behind your bike while you check her out in the mirror, so be it. If you can't see her, that's a blind spot. You will want to cover these spots by turning you head and looking for trouble lurking in there, after ensuring that there are no threats in your mirror.

Next, learn to check other people's mirrors. If you make eye contact with the chap ahead in his mirror, your safety from him/her is virtually guaranteed. Unless he's about to kill you anyway, that is. Corollary: If you can't see him/her in his mirrors, you're in his blind spot, and he cannot see you. Which should mean the suspension of all overtaking plans until you can flash him into seeing you, reposition or if worst comes to worst, honk.

Detail 4: A pillars
Next time you're in a car, look out carefully and notice the pillars that make up the door frames in the car. They're opaque. Which means the driver cannot see you if you happen to be in that line of sight. Some of the newer cars have A-pillars (which frame the front windscreen) so thick that a fully loaded Tata truck can disappear at certain angles. Yesterday, travelling in a new Honda City, we passed a Hyundai Accent and the A-pillar fully obscured both doors of the car at the distance of a lane.

I think that's enough for now. More on position at a later date.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

hi, rearset,
r u in mood for opening regular tution classes, :-)
most people need them
the lessons were just gr8, most important for daily commuting in today's choatic traffic.

keep educating,