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Time to THINK! Tips for surviving the UK roads

Now that Summer is officially here you can bet there’ll be a lot more of us on the roads, and when drivers have spent an entire winter seeing very few motorcycles it can take some getting used to.

We know from personal experience just how dangerous it can be when other road users haven’t looked properly before pulling out or changing lanes. Ryan’s lucky to be alive having been knocked off a bike twice by cars (somehow avoiding serious injury), and once even had to drop a bike to avoid riding into the side of a bus that pulled out despite him already being on the roundabout! Together, we’ve had more near-misses than we would care to remember, so what can WE do to improve our chances of survival? See below for 5 points to consider:

 

Never assume! Think you know what that car is going to do? SURELY they’ve seen/heard you? Well think again... People change their minds and can execute some frankly insane manoeuvres to avoid taking the wrong junction.

When overtaking, filtering through traffic, passing a junction or even seemingly parked cars - be ready for them to do literally ANYTHING and you shouldn’t be surprised.

 

Be visible! Wearing fluorescent and reflective clothing, along with a brightly coloured bike and a powerful headlight will help drivers to notice you - but still don’t count on it.

Beware of your road positioning with regards to deep shadows, low sun, mirror angles (don’t hang around on someone’s rear quarter as you might be ‘hiding’ in a blind spot), and also blending into the car behind you by lining up with one of their headlights (dangerous when drivers are looking for a space to pull out into a thick flow of traffic). Although we don’t like to admit it, sometimes we are actually tricky to see!

 

Slow it down. While a bike is often easier to handle at speed over snails pace it does also mean that should a hazard begin to unfold you’ll be a lot closer to it all by the time you can properly react.

We figure it’s all fair to give it a blast along a back road somewhere (though take care in farming country!) otherwise what’s the point in riding? But be sure to knock off some speed anywhere near traffic and junctions. Losing a few seconds here and there is better than losing all your remaining time on this earth…

 

Suit up! If after doing all you can to avoid an accident you are involved in one anyway, the best decision you will have made is to be wearing some decent protective gear. I know that none of us particularly enjoy layering up in leather on the hottest of summer days but do your loved ones a favour and do it anyway!

Modern armour has come a long way in the performance-to-comfort front so if you’re feeling the weight of your old set perhaps it’s time to shop for some new kit.

 

Be polite. It can feel like we’re at war with cars but it’s helpful to remember that each of us are only human, we all have good days and bad ones. A moment of patience (even though we’re sweating buckets and the car in front still hasn’t moved for the green light…) or a simple thank you when someone moves over for us can go a long way so be nice.

We admit that no-one is exactly safe from Ryan’s gloved gestures, and I’ve been known to dish out a shot of intimidating mirror-visored ‘stink eye’ at the drivers who’ve oh so casually nearly killed us but we still try to be polite on the roads for all of our sake.

 

It’s not just us bikers that suffer at the mercy of car drivers, horses and cyclists are involved in more accidents than ever before and as the number of cars on our roads is still increasing I worry about what is yet to come. As the average vehicle gets larger and more comfortable, if anything it’s more important than ever to remind folks that they are driving potential killing-machines and that it’s simply unacceptable to not have your FULL attention on the road around you. You can help spread the message and remind other road users when you’re not on your bike with some stickers from the AA’s THINK BIKE! Campaign. 

 

Do you have any experiences or tips to share? We’d love to hear from you so feel free to leave us a comment below!

 

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Sarah is a UK artist and writer with a lifetime interest in camping and survival techniques.

Living the #vanlife since before it was a hashtag and touring on two wheels with her husband Ryan, they have a wealth of camping and motorcycling knowledge to share, and know a thing or two about packing light! read more


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