Watch Your Six

Intersections can be dangerous even after you’re stopped.

You’re riding home through the maze of shopping center entrances and neighborhood access streets after a hard day of work. Traffic lights control the heavy commuter traffic. It’s a routine ride, but you are distracted by the nagging thought that you left your cell phone at work, so you take the opportunity at the next red light to quickly search your tank bag to find out.

You stop behind a minivan, click the transmission into neutral and begin opening the bag’s zipper when you hear squealing tires behind you. A quick glance in your mirrors reveals the sickening sight of a car closing very fast. You squeeze the clutch and stomp the bike into first gear, but you’re too close to the minivan to maneuver out of the way. The impact sends you violently backward onto the hood of the careless driver’s car with the back of your head smashing into the windshield. Thankfully, you were wearing a helmet and you escape with only a seriously bruised elbow and shoulder. Unfortunately, your motorcycle is a total loss.

It was a good idea to eliminate the distraction about your cell phone, but it would have been smart to pull over out of traffic, or at least wait until the surrounding traffic is completely stopped before attempting to search your tank bag. When sitting in traffic it’s smart to keep your motorcycle in first gear and your attention on your mirrors to identify and react quickly to hazardous situations from behind. Flash your brake light to alert inattentive drivers that you are stopped. Finally, it’s better to stop far enough away from vehicles in front to allow a near-straight escape route between the rows of cars to the left or in the breakdown lane to the right. Following these simple steps can prevent you from being a sitting duck.

copyright Ken Condon

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