MCN's guide to urban riding: Defensive riding

By MCN -

Riding Skills

 18 October 2010 10:39

Many bikers assume that their riding skills are the most important factor in road safety. However, other road users are the most serious threat to your safety as a motorcyclist, especially in a city.

The sudden movements of other vehicles can present a much greater hazard to you than to the drivers themselves.

In this situation, developing a defensive riding style is vital. Here are eight tips to keep you safe on the roads in association with Spada.

1. Be alert – It’s natural for your concentration to waver during a journey, but in this state you’re extremely vulnerable to sudden hazards. Rest regularly or simply stop riding if your mind keeps wandering.

2. Be judgemental – If a car’s banged up and held together by sticky tape it’s fair to say the driver is no stranger to accidents. Beware.

3. Look up – The further you look, the more you’ll see. Knowing everything that’s going on around you is key to avoiding dangerous situations. Don't be afraid to move to get a better view.

4. Anticipate problems – The more time you have to react to a hazard the more likely you are to deal with it safely. Police riders recommend commenting aloud on an upcoming hazard, detailing what you intend to do.

5. Put two and two together – A stationary bus means pedestrians, a bouncing ball in the road means children at play, a bare, open road means crosswinds. Experience can help you predict hazards before they appear.

6. Check your blind spots – Doing your rearward safety checks isn’t just something you do to pass your test, it’s a potentially life-saving habit. Make sure you keep it up.

7. Check your speed – At 70mph the shortest distance for a complete stop is 96m.

8. Keep your distance – staying a safe distance behind the vehicle in front will increase your range of vision as well as giving you space to stop in an emergency.