The F4TF prompt this week is near misses… now I guess I have lived a semi blessed life as I have not experienced anything so dramatic and terrifying as May tells us about in Darling Near Miss N – I don’t mind telling you I was holding my breath as I read it.
When Mr H and I met, I had a house, so there was no need to be shaggin’ in fields or the like. I did that kind of thing with my first husband and while I enjoyed the thrill of the forbidden and the chance you could get caught – but we never did.
So in light of this seemly boring beginning I thought I would veer off on a slight tangent and have a chat about the number of times when I am out riding my gorgeous motorbike that I experience cars pulling out on me. The British police have a name for this type of incident when a collision occurs the SMIDSY, or,
Sorry Mate I Didn’t See You
MrH and I often say we must don an invisibility cloak when we set off on a ride, because you can guarantee that before we have ridden 5 miles we will have had to react in some way to the apparent ignorance of another road user.
It is my understanding (and I’m not claiming to be an expert) that you can be described as Driving without Due Care and Attention if your actions cause another road user to have to change speed or direction. So if you pull out of a junction and a car that is travelling down the road towards you then has to slow down, to avoid hitting you, you didn’t have sufficient space to pull out. Now there are other commonly used words to describe these kind of drivers but Mr H doesn’t like me to swear!
When I am out and about on my motorbike, I see this far too often. Interestingly there are a few reasons why motorbikes are invisible, some are psychological and some physiological.
If you’re a driver you know about blind spots. You check over your shoulder before making a turn. Left for left and right for right. Just to make sure that there are no cyclists or cars in that small space that isn’t covered by your mirrors.
As shown above you can fit a whole car in that red triangle so motorbikes are easy to miss. Lorries have even more blind spots.
There’s a big awareness campaign in the UK, it’s written in the back of most trailers “if You can’t see my Mirrors, I can’t see You” but you do still see cars driving right up the back (zone 2) of them.
When you learn to ride a bike these checks are called life saver checks. Simply because they can save your life.
I’m not saying bikers are innocent of stupidity… I also see idiots overtaking cars when there is clearly someone about to turn, or a junction ahead. But let’s say for the majority of good, decent considerate bikers that’s not the case.
Next time you get in your car, check your mirrors. Are they correctly aligned? There’s a great article Here on how to set up your mirrors to virtually eliminate the blind spot.
It’s harder to judge the speed a motorbike is travelling at because it’s small, so drivers often think they are travelling slower than they are.
They are small and that means they are easily hidden behind furniture (lamp posts, signs, hedges).
As bikers we are told to move about the road when we approach a junction with a car in it. That’s so that we attract the attention of the driver. If you’ve seen the movie Jurassic Park and can remember what they tell you about the T-Rex? If you don’t move it can’t see you. Humans are quite similar. We’re attracted by movement. It gets our attention. So when you see a bike and you think “ride in a straight line!!!” Remember this…. you saw them right??
Snap Shot Vision
One of the other reasons motorbikes are missed is the way we, as humans, see. When we are at a junction and we look down the road, planning to pull out, we think we are seeing the whole road. What’s actually happening is our eyes take snap shots of the road as we move our focus from near to far and back again. Our brain uses these snapshots and our experience to fill in the gaps. So if there is a relatively small object (motorbike) in a bit that your eyes did “take a picture of” your brain won’t see it. Does that make sense?? How many times has a motorbike or bicycle seemingly appeared out of nowhere?
Test it. Next time you’re at a junction instead of just “looking” think to your self, near, middle and distance as you look, see how much more detail you see when you consciously look.
If you know someone who rides a motorbike you are far more likely to see motorbikes on the road.
Think about that for a second.
In a car you’re pretty protected, right? Bikers sometimes refer to cars as cages, and I don’t think they are trying to say that they contain animals…. rather that they are safe. As you drive you are aware of other cars, buses, lorries and other large vehicles that could cause injury. You’re probably also aware of people because well, they do daft things like step into the road without warning. So we’re trained to be vigilant from the moment we learn to walk…. watch for cars! This stays with you when you’re driving only now you’re aware of “people”.
Motorbike and bicycles can’t really damage your car. Well they can and will but I hope you get my point. If you collide with one you as the driver of a car are extremely likely to walk away unscathed.
Remember what I said earlier?
If you know someone who rides you’re more likely to see bikes.
Because you have empathy. You have an emotional connection to someone who could be hurt you’re more likely to be aware of them.
There’s something I’d like to ask each and every one of my followers to do. If you have children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews (you get the picture) next time you’re out walking or driving… count motorbikes.
See how many you can see.
Research suggests that children who do this are more likely to be aware of them when they start driving. It may just make you more aware too…
It will help keep me safe and others who ride.. maybe it will prevent a few near misses in the future – or worse.
This is linked to Wicked Wednesday #369 “surviving,” to see more posts on this topic click HERE.