Seriously! Stay in gear at lights!
March 9, 2010 at 5:12 am #3742
I just had the most MSF-reaffirming experience I’ve ever had, and boy am I glad I developed the right habits.
In MSF courses, they tell you to stay in gear at a light, at least until there is a stopped car behind you. It’s common sense, and it’s something that I was already in the habit of doing from my bicycling days…not so much the “staying in gear” part but the “always watch your back and be ready to move” part.
Yesterday I was coming back to Seattle after a trip up to Everett. (I mention details only for the Seattle-ites on the forum.) I was coming southbound on Sandpoint Way and had just cruised to a stop at the three-way light by the north entrance to Magnuson park. As usual, I stopped about 10ft short of the car in front of me, and left the bike in gear with the clutch lever pulled in. After a few seconds at the light, I noticed that the car coming up behind me was showing suspiciously little evidence of slowing down, and sure enough, as it got closer, the teenage girl driving it could be seen looking at her lap. Probably texting…*sigh*
I started opening the throttle a bit and tilted the DR-Z into a right lean, ready to zoom off to the shoulder if necessary. Two seconds later, as the girl did the unthinkable, I was gassing it like a bat out of hell, hurling around the car in front of me. The result was both awful and hilarious. Not only would she have killed me (probably going about 35mph last time I’d looked), but after I got out of the way, she pegged the car in front of me! I wish I had a picture of the demolished rear end of that poor Mini.
The point of all this is totally obvious, but I’ll say it again: when you’re stopped, keep your eyes up (and back), and be ready to react. It WILL save your life!March 9, 2010 at 5:41 am #24848eonParticipant
Man, glad you escaped unscathed and are here to post about it. Major kudos for doing all the right things. I *try* to be as observant at every light but I can’t say I manage it all the time. It’s all too easy to get complacent and think about work or whatever is going on in your life. I know that intersection well and go through it all the time (will be there tomorrow night in fact). I probably do better at intersections like that one where you can feel exposed than my normal downtown haunts where you shuffle from light to light. Gets me into bad habits though.
Thanks for posting, keeps us on our toes.March 9, 2010 at 6:32 am #24850
I was working a job I hated and, like you, zipping around the streets of downtown Seattle on my 250. Especially considering that towards the end of that summer, I started getting a bit lazy about wearing adequate leg protection (jeans were just so much better in 107 degree weather than hot black overpants), it’s pretty lame how complacent I got. In some ways I’m lucky to have made it through without incident. Luckily, I hate life less now (in case it’s not obvious, that last bit should be served with a healthy dose of facetiousness) and I’m back to being careful…mostlyMarch 9, 2010 at 12:17 pm #24852TrialsRiderParticipant
I would have asked her to borrow her cell and then fired it hard as I could.March 9, 2010 at 2:35 pm #24853JackTradeParticipant
I’ve always tried to stay in gear, at least until there’s a car stopped behind me. I do get lazy though, usually when outside of the city…”there’s so little traffic, what could happen?”. Thanks for the reminder on exactly what *could* happen.
And for the bigger point, call it old man syndrome (I’m only 37, but still), but WTF with texting while driving? I’d love to hear the rationalization for how this could possibly be considered feasible by those who do it. But it’s only going to get worse, sadly, as car companies build more and more distractions into their vehicles.
Here in the D.C. area, there is a big firestorm ongoing about city bus and train drivers texting while operating their vehicles. It’s illegal, and they get fired, but it keeps happening. Thanks to the internet, passengers catch them, post it, and the transit agency can’t ignore it. But everyone’s dismayed that it keeps happening.March 9, 2010 at 4:06 pm #24855eonParticipant
This actually reminds me I nearly got creamed last week downtown as I shuffled from light to light. Between the two lights you cross over a 3 lane one way street and then there is room for 3 or maybe 4 cars before the next light. I pull away from the first light, getting close to the 2nd one when it turns yellow. I look behind me and the nearest car is waaaay behind, barely moved off from the first light. I decide to brake as I hate gunning it through yellows, especially downtown as pedestrians just walk out in front of you.
My mistake was then not looking behind me. I’m braking fairly hard so I’m concentrating on stopping at the line so I don’t brake harder than I need to. Once stopped I look behind to see the car nosedive under heavy braking and it comes to a stop inches behind me. God knows what they were thinking as no way could they even have made the yellow. I almost got off the bike to have a friendly chat with the woman but decided against it. I did turn and glare though
Gotta be more careful out there!March 9, 2010 at 7:51 pm #24859RabParticipant
It’s great that you had the presence of mind to get out of the way.
I hope you reported the incident to the police though, as she deserves to be prosecuted; and as a warning to the other mobile texters out there.
Shameless plug follows:
I would encourage all readers to join the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA). They may not be perfect, but they are one of a very few organizations who are lobbying on our behalf.
Pressing for tougher sentences for “distracted drivers” who kill motorcyclists is one of their current initiatives.
The AMA also offer free roadside assistance/recovery on all of your vehicles (motorcycles, cars, trucks) with the auto-renewal option.March 9, 2010 at 11:27 pm #24862briderdtParticipant
According to the op:
“…as it got closer, the teenage girl driving it could be seen looking at her lap. Probably texting…*sigh*”
Note: PROBABLY texting. He did not say she WAS texting. Not paying attention, for certain, but it isn’t said she was texting.March 10, 2010 at 1:25 am #24864MunchParticipant
would it make you feel anymore secure if she had been playing with her self…. or chasing down lip stick? Or maybe reaching for that ever elusive Krispy Kreme doughnut that keeps falling away from her grasp?
I can understand that those that do text while driving feel like they are being singled out. Honestly they are. Not without good reason though. For me it is no different from staring at a GPS unit or playing with the radio or whatever. The thing is, it’s your right to do what you wish in your vehicle with your property and I for one will not tell you what to do in your vehicle. However use that same sense of responsibility for when things go to hell and it costs a life and you can no longer check the text. I get on my kids all the time about texts. They aren’t even able to drive. I will ask them why they text so much… if you got that much to say… then call them. Takes less time and is more interactive.
Their response…. “well they text me so I can answer them when ever- in case I am busy”….2 things ….first…HELLO…..voicemail! second….. if it is a convenience for times when you are busy then put the damn thing down and concentrate on what you are doing…. not the other way around.
Now back to the original idea of the post….
I to am glad you are here to tell the tell (whatever in the hell she was doing) and thank you for reminding US and new members to keep your bike in gear … as we almost are were instructed at MSF and leave enough room for escape routes.March 10, 2010 at 1:42 am #24858Gary856Participant
That close escape is chilling. I’ll be planning for escape route and looking at the mirrors more closely at the lights now. Thanks for the reminder.March 10, 2010 at 3:56 am #24867
I’m the one that called the police. The woman she hit didn’t seem to have dealt with an accident before and she wasn’t going to call the cops. There was no way I was going to let insurance companies mess this one up, so I called the cops and made sure everybody’s statement (including mine) was taken, and that a police report with a correct account of events was filed then and there.
Might sound harsh, but my very first day driving alone I was side-swiped by a drunk truck driver (pickup, not big rig). He gave me a fake ID and a bogus insurance policy number. When I tried to get things taken care of with my insurance company, it turned out that he was full of it. The license plate on his car was out of date, and there was no record of anybody with his name/info. A $2,500 hole in the side of my parents’ car is one helluva way to learn a lesson, but you can be sure I learned it!March 10, 2010 at 4:08 am #24868
Doesn’t matter what she was doing. I was making a joking guess based on her age, but whatever was occupying her attention was doing so completely. She didn’t look up once the entire time I watched her in my mirrors…whatever the reason.
As far as texting goes, I think the reason it gets such a bad rap is because it’s the clear cause of so many reported accidents. I’ve been on a college campus for the past two years, and another four years some time before that, and every student that drives through that campus has their phone out. There are facebook groups dedicated to “txting n drvng,” weekly articles in the paper about some dumbass plowing into another person’s car while texting, etc. Not that anybody seems to care, but it’s illegal to hold a phone while driving in WA…you need a hands free set (which, as we all know, doesn’t solve the problem). So yeah, people do their make-up, eat their breakfast omelets, shave, tie their ties, fiddle with their GPS systems, etc. while in their cars, and all of those are just as bad. But texting has caused a slew of high-profile accidents, and that’s getting people’s attention.March 10, 2010 at 4:46 am #24870JtownJJAParticipant
It’s been a while since I’ve posted on here… just waiting out the winter, I guess. But I was really drawn in with what you described happened. I’ve always kept my bike in gear at the stop lights, and MOST of the time, I keep an eye on the rear-view mirror. But to react at just the right time and get out of the way meant you had to really be prepared to react. Thank you for the reminder! What is it again? SEE – Seek, Evaluate, Execute!March 10, 2010 at 3:19 pm #24880JackTradeParticipant
Read books. Seriously, I’ve seen people driving down the road with a book open on the steering wheel. Of course, that was a few years ago, so now it’s probably “read blogs”.
We’re in a twilight area between low and high tech vehicles it seems. Cars now are adding more and more gadgets that don’t really have much to do with actual driving, but we’re not quite yet to the point where the car has enough tech to take over the driving so you can SAFELY fiddle with your Onstar or whathaveyou.
It’s a bad point right now…there are growing distractions in the car, but human drivers still have to drive them.
While I personally can’t stand the idea of self-driving (or at least self-correcting…think a robust version of ESC) cars, I like the idea of them being available so that all the non-enthusiast drivers (i.e. the cars=appliances crowd, the my-ipod-and-latte-are-more-important-than-manual-transmissions people, etc.) can leave the driving (or at least the emergencies) to something that’s not going to get distracted.
Though I wonder if in the super-high-tech world of our great-grandkids, there’s going to be problems with self-aware cars getting distracted themselves (reading the latest binary feeds from Mars or something) so you’ll have to get a robot to keep the car in line.March 10, 2010 at 10:48 pm #24890RabParticipant
I know where you’re coming from.
My Wife was involved in her first car accident last year (was rear-ended) while driving through the local Mexican ghetto while I was at work.
She went to pieces and called me from the scene. I tried to calm her down and told her what she needed to do. She took down his (if it was his) driver’s license number and he supposedly wrote down his other details, however, she’s sure that he snatched the paper with his details back when she gave her details to him though, so all we had to go on was his driver’s license number. Needless to say, he never got in touch with us or the police or our insurance company; despite having our full contact details.
Having heard nothing, we went to report the incident to the police and they said they had had no report of the accident from him. I later went to the local address given to me by the police and found an apartment with about 12 Mexicans in it, none of whom could speak English. When shown the guy’s name (again given to us by the police), they shook their heads mumbling in Spanish like they had no idea who he was; I don’t know, maybe they didn’t but I could hardly discuss it with them as I don’t speak foreign languages.
We do have Uninsured/Underinsured coverage as is a virtual necessity here in California, largely due to all the illegals, so it didn’t cost us (directly anyway) to get our car fixed as they treated our mystery driver as uninsured.
Like you however, I learned a lesson.
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