A time to live...
A question for you. What do:
"See and be seen"
"Only a fool breaks the two second rule"
"Position wide for view in a bend"
have in common?
The first is from basic training, the second from road safety
campaigns, the third any advanced rider will recognise.
Answer - they all give us space on the road.
What is so important about space? It's a window of opportunity to
see potential danger, and thus time to think what to do. The earlier
we spot danger and the more time we have, the more likely we are to
make the right decision.
Given enough time, we'd never over-cook it in bends, never be
surprised when someone pulls out in front of us, never have an
Time is not a luxury, it's a necessity.
Observation and anticipation work to give us that time, but we have
to be in the right place to see in the first case.
Basic trainers hammer into riders "see and be seen". It's nothing
complicated but many riders are unaware of the risk posed by a poor
position. If we can't see a hazard we can't react to it. Worse, if
the other driver can't see us, neither will he take account of our
An awful lot of SMIDSY (Sorry Mate, I didn't see you) accidents are
down to the biker effectively hiding in traffic or behind road
furniture. Surprise other drivers and they are unlikely to react
Can we see the driver's head? If we can't, he can't see us, so we
should try to change our position to see and be seen. If we can see
him, is he looking in our direction? If not, consider using the horn
to get him to look. If he has a clear line of sight, have we made
On a straight road with no obvious hazards, the DSA's standard
advice to riders is to keep just left in the lane. But this position
doesn't give us a particularly good view or clearance to the left
where vehicles might emerge, and those drivers may have trouble
seeing us. In traffic vehicles ahead or behind obstruct our view and
conceal us. It's not a very dominant position, and can encourage
drivers to pass where it isn't safe. A better standard riding
position is just to the right of centre of our lane. It usually
improves the view and clearance to the left, is more dominant and
maintains reasonable gap to traffic to our right.
But our position must be flexible to keep a safety margin and to
improving our view. So we might move even wider right if we see a
junction with a poor view ahead on the left, or over near the kerb
if we see an oncomng lorry with a partly obscured car behind it. On
bends, a wide position (where safe) will give a better view and
early warning of hazards ahead. Keeping well back allows us to see
up the side of trucks.
Our advantage on a bike is our width and our ability to change
Use it to see and be seen.