Good point on close calls being cheap lessons from mistakes. Here’s one:
I ride mostly in light traffic and in the hills (not much stopping), so my heavy traffic experience is relatively limited, not a daily exposure. About a month ago, on a Friday evening, I left work earlier than usual, so I got into heavy commute traffic even before getting onto the freeway (680). I was riding my YZF600R, and did the 1 mph crawl on the on ramp for a while. When I finally got onto the freeway, I wanted to merge to the number 1 lane quickly so I could lane split. Traffic was stop and go. As I cut across the number 2 lane diagonally toward the number 1 lane, the car in number 2 lane (in front of me) stopped a little short suddenly. No problem – I would just close the throttle, slow down a bit without braking, and steer around the stopped car. Except I had a cramp-buster on this bike’s throttle, and I didn’t lift my right wrist all the way. So all of a sudden I felt I wasn’t slowing down as expected, and was carrying more speed (by just a few mph) than I wanted. I froze at the control, and thought I was going to clip the left rear bumper of that car. All I could muster was a tiny wiggle of my body to the left (not a decent swerve of the bike, since I was kind of frozen), and only by luck I cleared the car’s rear bumper. The whole thing happened in 1-2 seconds. I was probably going no more than 10 mph, but my heart was pounding after that.
– Patience is a big part of dealing with stop-n-go traffic. I was in too big of a hurry to get into number 1 lane to split. The margin of error is very small when you’re that close to that many cars.
– Cramp buster is bad news in heavy traffic. I feel it makes you lazy with throttle control in general. I removed it from my bike, and really like the improved feel of the throttle without the cramp buster.
– Sport bikes aren’t ideal in heavy traffic. I was a little more pre-occupied with balancing the bike at the crawling speed, and I feel that contributed to my throttle control error. If I was on a standard bike, I would have used up less mental focus on balancing the bike, and had better situational awareness.