We’ve all experienced it. A car, a van, a bus or truck—sometimes even another motorcyclist!—pulls out of a junction, or makes some other manoeuvre, apparently not having seen us.
Without getting into some nerdy discussion about ‘saccadic pauses’ or other ocular phenomena, motorcycles are, whether we like it or not, harder to spot than bigger vehicles. Partly it’s size, partly it’s the speed and suddenness with which we appear in other road users’ vision. Sometimes, it’s not helped by a rider’s penchant for a 'bike, helmet and clothing in the same colour as the road surface.
Read more about 'saccadic pauses’ and other ocular phenomena
Another issue is familiarity. There are lots of cars, vans and trucks on the road, but far fewer powered two-wheelers. Every car that drives past is a reminder to look for them. But you might not have seen a motorcycle all day, then you’re looking for a ‘gap in traffic’ to pull into…
That’s why, as part of Motorcycle Awareness month, the message is being promoted to all road users to ‘Look Twice’ for ‘bikes. Backed by Ride Forever, MSAC, NZ Police and NZTA, the campaign uses radio spots, Facebook ads, social media feeds and—in a few regions—billboards. It also features on the Motorcycle Awareness Month website with the following messages:
- Slow down behind motorcyclists.
- Always look twice at intersections.
- Check your blind spots.
- Drive to the conditions.
- Always use your indicators.
- Know that motorcycles can appear quickly.
- Motorcycle indicators don’t automatically turn off. Make sure the rider is turning before pulling out.
The radio spots in particular will hopefully remind drivers, right there in their vehicle, that motorcycles are hard to spot and to give a second look specifically for them. From a rider’s perspective, it’s also a reminder that we can never assume a driver has seen us.
Correct positioning, using vision correctly, knowing the signs to look for and good braking technique are just some of the skills we can deploy to give ourselves a better chance. And they’re just some of the things you’ll practice on a Ride Forever course:
Ride Forever coaching