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Don't be invisible, use a little wiggle.

Every motorcycle rider can relate to the fact that other drivers don't see us. It's as if we are invisible. Even if a driver looks right at you and sees your headlight, they don't know how fast you are approaching. Think about this, who can judge the speed of a light coming towards them? I'm sure every rider has a story about the driver that just kept coming, as if they were trying to hit you. As we know, drivers get conditioned to look for something big, like a car or truck and often look through the motorcycle. Even with the headlight coming towards them. It's as if we are invisible. Does this sound familiar?

I've learned the hard way. My first experience of being invisible, I was 16 and had been riding for less than 2 months. The oncoming driver turned in front of me, I swerved and the driver stopped. I missed the car but couldn't miss the curb and spilled onto the road. From that experience and from talking to other riders, I've developed a number of defensive maneuvers that have been incorporated into my daily ride. When riding towards an intersection, driveway, or parking lot, I look for and spot drivers that might become a threat and then start defensive actions. A lot of us ride with the headlight on high beam, but don't flash a headlight at an approaching driver or they might think you are letting them go ahead of you. The strobe headlights are a good idea, but we cannot trust these passive features to help us to be seen.

The best lesson I learned from that early accident was when I swerved that alerted the driver and caused them to stop. Now I use the weave maneuver to alert drivers to my presence. I make my bike and head light wiggle by pushing on the handle bars or pushing down on the foot pegs as I approach those high-threat areas. It works and has caused drivers to stop in their tracks after they have started to pull out from an intersection. With a little practice this maneuver could save your life, but excessive wiggling down the road could get you pulled over by the police.

Shiny chrome and paint might get you a thumbs up and attention while stopped at a light or in a parking lot, but the only thing a driver sees from head on is movement. That could be the difference between a great ride that ends in a ball of fire or a lifetime of riding. Give a little wiggle at that next intersection.

Bill Cordes is a MSF coach rider at Moody AFB, Ga.
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Author:Cordes, William N.
Publication:Combat Edge
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2009
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