Spatial awareness - staying safe out there!
Updated: Oct 8, 2019
I've been thinking about this for a while and recent events, one in particular, has motivated me to pen some thoughts.
If you do not have two functional, correctly adjusted mirrors you can not possibly be spatially aware to the rear. When recommending mirrors to someone a few days ago they said "oh i just turn to look". With the unpredictable nature of the traffic conditions here I think that's risky at best. A glance to a mirror, eyes back to the road ahead and another glance to confirm before slowing or a change of direction is the safest option in my opinion.
In most of our home countries this is a relatively simple manouver. Mirrors, indicate, merge, mirrors again and turn. Nothing tricky about that and so far as the law is concerned the same applys here. Quite often here though riders will cross the oncoming traffic before the corner continuing on the wrong side of the road before they turn. I don't suggest we follow that lead but I do understand why they do it. Sitting stationary in the car lane waiting to turn makes you a sitting duck. Many people are hit from behind this way and worse case if their front tyre is turned also will be pushed into the oncoming traffic. Potentially fatal consequences for what we consider is the right approach. My advice is to continue along past the corner, make a u turn when clear and come back and take a right turn.
Even at very low speed leaving insufficient space when passing parked cars can have serious consequences. If a car door opens and the handle bars hit you are most certainly thrown off the left side of the bike with a very real possibility of being struck by oncoming vehicles. Assume the door of every car you pass may be pushed open is a good way to think about it.
TURNING IN FROM THE RIGHT
At anytime vehicles can and will enter the carriage way often without looking at all from the right. It's best to travel around the centre of the lane so as not to have to swerve or brake suddenly and risk being hit from behind.
In the city you often have riders coming toward you as a way to enable them to cross over to their side once there's a break in the traffic. Here the metre or so to the far right is unofficially reserved for that so another good reason the be around the middle of your lane. In the country and on highways the oncoming traffic risk is a whole next level. Cars, trucks and buses will all cross to your side of the road passing slower vehicles or to avoid potholes in the road. It is left to you to avoid them. If travelling out of the city you need to be very mindful of this.
THE ROAD AHEAD
Anywhere in the world its important to constantly monitor the traffic situation ahead. Nowhere more than here as the conditions can change very quickly with little notice. Other road users can be unpredictable and even pedestrians will expect you to avoid them. Out of the city throw animals into the mix also. By reading the traffic as far ahead as possible you improve your likelihood of avoiding the actions and reactions of others.
Thanks for reading. None of this is rocket science but I hope identifying a few of the risks has helped some of the new people to adapt to this crazy good motorcycling country.
Keep the rubber side down.