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Old 03-13-2016, 03:20 PM   #1
DataDan
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Are you in your first year or two of riding, now comfortable on the bike but still on a fairly steep slope of the learning curve? At this point in your career, you may be absorbing certain advanced skills sometimes discussed on BARF: when to flip off drivers, mirror smack technique, and even the most effective way to put a boot into a car's sheetmetal at speed. While some motorcyclists advocate and employ them, others never would.

The difference starts with attitude, which I will define as readiness to perceive conditions and events on the road in certain ways and react accordingly (with a hat-tip to non-motorcyclist Carl Jung). Attitudes set expectations, color perceptions, and influence reactions.

A good attitude--an inclination toward perceptions in sync with reality--will help you to identify key unknowns in a traffic situation, understand the influences motivating other drivers, direct your observations, anticipate events, and react in a beneficial way.

A bad attitude leads to the opposite. You misperceive traffic because you don't really understand why drivers behave as they do, so you don't know what to be looking for and can't make accurate predictions. You're often surprised in traffic, you get mad, and finally resort to a flip-off, a mirror smack, or a kick.

What are some of the characteristics of a good attitude?
  • Be realistic. Stuff happens. Learn to accept what happens regardless of what the vehicle code dictates. Understand where and when it's likely to happen, so you can anticipate and avoid it.

  • Be tolerant. Traffic is a real clusterfuck sometimes, and those on the lower tail of the driver-skill bell curve are less capable of handling it. They aren't evil. They don't wish you harm. But they do tend to make mistakes in tough situations. Unlike the children of Lake Wobegon, half of all drivers are below average. Deal with it. Live and let live.

  • Be astute. Most drivers aren't inexplicably inept. They tend to make predictable mistakes.

  • Be patient. Traffic ebbs and flows, thickens and thins, converges and diverges. Recognize the mode and rate of change and adapt to it. Because it's not going to adapt to you.

  • Be indulgent. Some drivers are going to try to get away with stuff they think will cut their commute time by 30 seconds. It's not personal disrespect; you just happen to be there.

  • Be resilient. After an unpleasant surprise or close call, get your head back in the game quickly. Learn whatever lesson you can and move on.

  • Recognize the mismatch. Your motorcycle is smaller, faster, and more maneuverable than other vehicles. Those characteristics can be advantages but can also be misused. Understand how they create problems for other motorists.

  • Acknowledge your fallibility. Recognize your own capacity to make mistakes.

  • Step up to the job. Riding a motorcycle is harder than driving a car. Accept the challenge and strive to improve your ability to read traffic and the road, and to anticipate and avoid problems. Take satisfaction from staying mentally ahead of the game.
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Last edited by DataDan; 07-18-2018 at 12:26 PM.. Reason: deleted Goofy video
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Old 03-16-2016, 10:34 AM   #2
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Great post Dan.

The first paragraph had me laughing out loud.
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Be resilient. After an unpleasant surprise or close call, get your head back in the game quickly. Learn whatever lesson you can and move on.
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Old 03-16-2016, 10:46 AM   #3
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As usual , Dan delivers.
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Old 03-16-2016, 10:50 AM   #4
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I vote for making this a sticky somewhere.
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Old 03-17-2016, 08:07 PM   #5
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This redditor displayed excellent Mototude, and even had a friendly confrontation with the car driver. I think this is a great example of how we should act if we find ourselves in a similar near-miss situation.


youtu.be/3Im-JzhvdS4

Last edited by asdfman; 03-17-2016 at 08:09 PM..
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Old 03-17-2016, 08:17 PM   #6
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Great post, that first paragraph did make me smile. I will never master those techniques, they are a waste of my time.
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Old 03-17-2016, 11:50 PM   #7
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Fabulous, fabulous post.
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Old 04-03-2016, 06:05 PM   #8
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Old 04-03-2016, 06:36 PM   #9
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Great advice.

This one part is really really important to me.

Be resilient. After an unpleasant surprise or close call, get your head back in the game quickly. Learn whatever lesson you can and move on.
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Old 07-20-2016, 09:29 AM   #10
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Great post here. I just started riding last week and decided two days ago to try lane splitting for the first time. While driving a car, I try to be awake of bikers cutting through and move aside to give them room. As a rider, it's a whole different ball game and I did experience a handful off people that would squeeze in so I couldn't get by. I gave one the finger, but only because he started yelling with his window closed. I also realized that you can't thank everyone that moves over for you.

I think the best way to learn the do's and do not's of lane splitting would be to ride with other people that are. Help me find out the differences in being an asshole and being a courteous rider.

My favorite part of this post is the:

"Be tolerant. Traffic is a real clusterfuck sometimes, and those on the lower tail of the driver-skill bell curve are less capable of handling it. They aren't evil. They don't wish you harm. But they do tend to make mistakes in tough situations. Unlike the children of Lake Wobegon, half of all drivers are below average. Deal with it. Live and let live."

Some people are just bad drivers. We just have to get away from them and move on with our lives.
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Old 07-20-2016, 11:28 AM   #11
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You might want to rethink your "I gave one finger" approach.

It is diametrically opposed to the message Dan is trying to get across.
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Old 07-20-2016, 11:40 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by onemancrew27 View Post
Great post here. I just started riding last week and decided two days ago to try lane splitting for the first time. While driving a car, I try to be awake of bikers cutting through and move aside to give them room. As a rider, it's a whole different ball game and I did experience a handful off people that would squeeze in so I couldn't get by. I gave one the finger, but only because he started yelling with his window closed. I also realized that you can't thank everyone that moves over for you.

I think the best way to learn the do's and do not's of lane splitting would be to ride with other people that are. Help me find out the differences in being an asshole and being a courteous rider.

My favorite part of this post is the:

"Be tolerant. Traffic is a real clusterfuck sometimes, and those on the lower tail of the driver-skill bell curve are less capable of handling it. They aren't evil. They don't wish you harm. But they do tend to make mistakes in tough situations. Unlike the children of Lake Wobegon, half of all drivers are below average. Deal with it. Live and let live."

Some people are just bad drivers. We just have to get away from them and move on with our lives.
Welcome to BARF Nate

I think that's a great paragraph you quoted.

While you are getting the hang of lane splitting I suggest you keep in mind that everything is new to you. As you gain more experience in the split (and in riding in general) you won't let people's actions affect you. Letting it upset you to the point of action (you flipping them off) takes your focus away from the very important task at hand which is learning the split.

If you have no previous experience riding a motorcycle other than a week ago I suggest you keep out of the split and off the freeway until you take a class and gain more experience
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Old 07-20-2016, 11:47 AM   #13
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I like to call this the "Zen" approach. Basically, you need to be cool, calm and collected. The more calm and detached and analytical you are, the more likely that you will be in a position to react in a way that will be beneficial to you.

Anger, frustration, etc, get in the way of clear thinking and change the way we make decisions. "When people are feeling high levels of anger, tend to make riskier decisions that have higher payoffs."

This was driven home to me after several years of riding, when I realised that every time I got upset and angry over someone nearly killing me, I would do things that put myself in more danger, just to prove a point, to somehow teach someone a "lesson".

Let it go. Be zen. Be cool. Be engaged with the riding, but detached from your emotions like a fighter pilot.
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Old 07-22-2016, 01:38 PM   #14
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... I just started riding last week... I gave one the finger, but only because he started yelling with his window closed.

My favorite part of this post is the:

"Be tolerant. Traffic is a real clusterfuck sometimes, and those on the lower tail of the driver-skill bell curve are less capable of handling it. They aren't evil. They don't wish you harm. But they do tend to make mistakes in tough situations. Unlike the children of Lake Wobegon, half of all drivers are below average. Deal with it. Live and let live."

Some people are just bad drivers. We just have to get away from them and move on with our lives.
I'm guessing you read DD's post after flipping-off the car driver? I would suggest concentrating on your riding for the first few years before graphically expressing your opinion of others'.

Just be cautious and observant out there and you'll develop a sense for avoiding situations like that. Having the skill to safely and successfully get out of tight situations is great, avoiding them all together IMO is greater.

Welcome to BARF
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Old 08-04-2016, 03:39 PM   #15
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I'm guessing you read DD's post after flipping-off the car driver? I would suggest concentrating on your riding for the first few years before graphically expressing your opinion of others'.


Welcome to BARF
Heh.. yeah I read this after the fact.. I do my reading at night.. I haven't flipped anyone off since! Although, I have almost been hit by people texting, talking on their phone, rolling a blunt, and playing pokemon go.. *sigh*

I have been riding ALMOST every day since I got the bike, even if its just for 10-15 minutes. Way more comfortable on the bike now and lane split to and from work. If another rider is behind me, I let them pass me so I can get an idea of how other people do it. I've seen nice people and then people that split when traffic is going 60+. No thanks!

Thanks for the welcomes, everyone.
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