Sit back, close your eyes, relax... and
hope for the best
It was a lovely warm evening in early April, so I took the bus down
to Eastbourne to watch the Eagles take on the Poole Pirates... there
were plenty of riders out taking advantage of the warm evening
sunshine too. And plenty of examples of poor riding...
Poor positioning on right handers, hugging the white line through a
curve so I had to keep moving left to avoid decapitating oncoming
riders was a favourite, as were the obligatory duff
overtakes... saw plenty of the latter, but one in particular was a
cracker... rider 1 goes for pass, rider 2 follows... rider 1 decides
NOT to go for the two car pass that rider 2 is clearly expecting and
slides into a one bike sized gap between the two cars... rider 2 is
left hung out to dry... except there was STILL plenty of room for
rider 2 to complete the overtake... so why DID rider 2 decide to try
to squeeze into the gap too? Doh...
But aside from that two incidents at junctions stuck in my mind.
First scenario... me in bus trying to turn right out of a side road
at a mini-roundabout into a constant stream of traffic from my left,
There's only sporadic stuff from my right, but in that direction the
view isn't brilliant because the road curves right and out of sight.
So.. put yourself on the bike approaching the mini-roundabout with
me sitting waiting on your left... you approach it on a slight left
kink which means you get a view of it quite late yourself... there's
a constant stream of traffic going the other way through the
mini-roundabout and past you, and there's a vehicle waiting to
emerge from the junction to the left (me in the bus). You notice
that the stream of traffic from the opposite direction will have a
gap in it, just about the time that you get to the mini-roundabout
What can you anticipate? Where will the driver's attention be
focussed as he looks for the gap? To his left? Quite likely isn't
it? When did he last look right? Does he know you are there? What
will he do when he sees the gap in the stream of traffic - try to
emerge into it? Will he check right before he goes?
What can you do? Slow down? Cover the brakes? Try to make eye
contact and be prepared to sound the horn and hit the brakes hard if
Fortunately for Rider A, I was looking both ways and well aware he
was there, and watched him pass through the junction. Because he did
none of these things. He approached and straightlined the roundabout
at about 40mph simply because he had right of way and wasn't
physically being forced to slow or steer.
He never looked once in my direction, and wasn't covering brakes or
horn. Not only would he have been in trouble had I emerged (and I
could just about have done it safely in the available space - to
tell truth, in the rush hour in London I would have gone for it, but
had the last car in the stream slowed and turned right across his
path, he'd have had to react very quickly too.
Lesson? Don't assume! Just because you have right of way, doesn't
mean you are going to get it every time. Don't assume! Just because
a car isn't signalliing doesn't mean it won't turn. This guy was
simply oblivious to the very real danger posed by the road layout.
Rider B also chose to ignore a dangerous situation. This time, a
mile or two further on, I've stopped for diesel. Coming out of the
filling station means emerging and turning right across a busy road,
which once again is on a slight kink, but this time, I can't see
left OR right. So like most drivers do there, I wait for a nice big
gap in the traffic to the right (controlled by lights just out of
sight, which is also the west by the way) and pull forward, so that
I am approximately 3/4 of the way across the lane, and wait either
for a gap or some kind soul to let me out into the stream of traffic
coming from my left.
After 5 or 6 seconds, someone hangs back and flashes me out.
Fortunately for the bike approaching from my right, I've clocked him
and pause to double check right before moving into the gap left for
me. Because Larry Lackwit on the bike decides that he can squeeze
pas in the metre-wide gap I've left in the lane in front of me,
which of course will save him having to slow at all from his 30 mph
If I'd moved 30cm, I would have punted him headfirst into the car
coming the other way. If I'd moved 1m, he'd have buried himself in
my driver's door and probably he'd have head-butted the door pillar.
And fortunately for him, I double checked VERY CAREFULLY - because
the light of the setting sun was right behind him. He wasn't easy to
Lesson? Don't be impatient. Why put yourself into a dangerous
situation to enforce your right of way and to save a couple of
seconds - he could quite easily have waited for me to complete the
manoeuvre and been on his way with barely a moment lost. Lesson?
Remember the problems of other drivers - if you have the sun behind
you, you have a lovely clear view... but the driver looking at you
Final point... neither of these incidents took place on hooning
roads... almost certainly both riders were local and on their way
home, so quite likely they knew the roads, and they would know that
the mini-roundabout and the petrol station were there. And unless
they were brand-new riders they must have had that sort of problem
occur there before. So, the chances are they haven't learned the
lesson from the last time it happened.