MCN's guide to urban riding: Filtering

By MCN -

Riding Skills

 29 September 2010 14:48

To make sure you get the most out of your bike in the city MCN has produced a guide to urban riding in association with Spada.

Riding in cities requires a completely different set of skills compared to the open road. There are more distractions, more hazards and more corners. This makes it more entertaining than a track day but without the need for tyre warmers.

Motorbikes really shine in the city. The agility and the blistering acceleration of modern bikes means there is no better way to get across a busy urban area.

1. If you regularly filter through traffic, and especially if you’re out in low-light conditions, then you may want to consider a high-visibility bib. There’s no shame in putting one on, as many couriers will tell you, and you’ll be much easier to spot in a busy, congested road.

2. Be aware of spaces in the traffic. If there’s a gap forming you should question why it is there. There may be a pedestrian or another vehicle about to step into the space and you should be careful about rushing into it at the same time.

3. Don’t take anything for granted, cars don’t always signal, and when they do it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to move. Lane positioning and wheel angle are good alternative indicators of where a car will move.

4. Don’t feel pressurised into moving faster or taking more risks than make you feel comfortable. Just because you can filter doesn’t mean you must.

5. Be aware of solid white lines and zig-zag markings. There’s a reason you shouldn’t overtake in those sections and you may be endangering yourself and other road users by disobeying them.

6. Always be aware of side roads. Other vehicles can and often will enter from them at unexpected times.

7. When you’re filtering, alter your speed according to the traffic you’re overtaking. You should travel at a safe speed relative to the motion of the other vehicles on the road.

8. Stay in a lower gear than you would cruise at, that way you can utilise the engine braking to help you stop quickly if you need to.

9. Keep a couple of fingers covering the brake level and clutch while you’re filtering, that way there’ll be little delay between realising you need to brake and actually beginning to slow.

10. Make sure to balance the risks against the rewards. If you filter at 30mph through a 10-mile traffic jam with the traffic moving at 10mph you will save 40 minutes. If you filter at 60mph through a 10-mile traffic jam with the traffic moving at 50mph you will save 2 minutes, while greatly increasing your risk of crashing.