Driving safely around bikers

Published September 24, 2021, 8:01 AM

by Inigo Roces

Be always on the lookout

Think all motorcyclists and bicyclists are kamotes? Think again. Most accidents on the road between cars and motorcycles happen because car drivers have been trained to look out for other cars and not motorcycles, or bicyclists.

In other cases, it may be a matter of both that are guilty of being inconsiderate. We can’t expect all motorcycle riders or cyclists to know what it’s like to be in a car with vision limited by thick steel pillars. Not all of them are aware of a car driver’s limited vision.

Look out for two-wheels

Motorcycles and bicycles are much smaller and can easily hide in a car’s blind spots or be blocked by other cars. As such, always presume there could be a motorcycle in your blind spot, around corners, in front of other cars, or beside you when changing lanes. You’d be surprised how much more quickly you can react with that in mind. When changing lanes or turning into an intersection, take an extra moment to wait for a motorcycle to come into view.

Give the rider space

Motorcycles react differently to obstacles than cars. They’re more agile at low speeds but less so at higher speeds. Potholes, leaves, wet roads, or even lane markings that seem insignificant to cars can be slippery to bikes, so leave them some room when encountering these. Just because they’re smaller, it doesn’t give you the right to cut one off when overtaking. Give a motorcyclist more space than you would a car. Leaving more space also prevents you from crashing into them and possibly running them over in the event of an obstacle or sudden stop.

On wider turns, let them have the whole width of the lane. Riders tend to stay out on entry, bank more steeply in the middle of a turn, and straighten out on exit. Overtaking them on the inside of a turn leaves them little room to bank and will often cause them to overshoot.

Give them time to stop

While bikes accelerate faster, they take longer to slow down. This is because, apart from balancing the front and rear brakes manually, riders also have to maintain their balance. After all, many of these motorcycles, unlike cars, are not equipped with ABS. Suddenly slamming on their brakes can lead to a lock up, and inevitably, an uncontrollable slide. Keep in mind that it’s usually safer for riders to swerve and avoid than slam on their brakes. The same goes for cyclists and those on mobility devices.

When encountering one approaching an intersection, if they appear to be going fast, it’s better to let them through. Cut them off abruptly and you just might have them lock their brakes and slide into the side of your car. Give them as much room to slow down as you would a truck.

Signal your intentions

It’s difficult for a rider to judge what a car will do next. The car driver has no telltale lean, hand signal, or glance, that other riders would typically do. This is especially harder in cars that are heavily tinted. Indicate your intentions with signal lights long before your turn. At intersections, flash the headlights or do a courtesy honk (a quick half-second beep) if there is a bike present. This reminds the rider that you’re there and alerts him that you are about to make a move.

Check for a bike at every chance

Another incident that often causes accidents is when departing the vehicle. A door suddenly opening in the path of a motorcycle or cyclist can cause serious physical harm. As such, before alighting from your vehicle, take a second to turn your head and look behind you. You’ll never know if a motorbike or bicycle could be in your blind spot.

As car drivers, it’s easy to dismiss any bike rider as a kamote, yet more often than not, most road altercations can be traced back to a lack of communication with other motorists. As such, when driving, keep an eye out not just for other cars and pedestrians but motorcyclists as well. Always signal your intentions, and be wary of how your driving can affect others on the road.

Save that text, GPS input, or stereo adjustment for later and keep your eyes on the road and all around you. A bike can easily sneak up beside or in front of you during the brief moment it takes to glance at your phone or in-car entertainment system.