Riding tips: Riding in heavy traffic


Motorbikes don’t get stuck in traffic. It’s one of the biggest advantages of being on two wheels. Setting off for a half-hour journey knowing that it will take half an hour no matter how bad the traffic is. Riding in traffic needs two things; good low speed machine control and senses working overtime.

Good low speed balance, featherlight clutch control and a fine balance between throttle and (mostly) back brake make all the difference here. But so much of good town riding comes from your head. Watching the traffic unfold in front of you, making the right call about who is going where and when the gaps will appear. Learning to be assertive but never aggressive. Always visible, but never in the way.

Most drivers will go out of their way to make room – they know that you aren’t affecting their journey time at all. But some don’t like it. Ride like a smooth, disciplined expert in control – you’ve seen the cars, plotted their path and can glide by without disrupting their journey – and they’ll grudgingly let you through. A friendly wave of acknowledgement always helps too. But look like you’re barging through regardless and they’ll be leaning on the horn and giving you the finger.

And that matters because the more polite, respectful riders they encounter the more likely they are to pull over. And one day, the penny might even drop that motorcycling is good and maybe they should give it a go too.

Filtering between cars or down the outside of a queue is legal so long as you keep the speed respectable. Undertaking is not. When filtering always be aware of upcoming junctions where a car might just turn right in front of you. Remember too that a couple of cars side by side are unlikely to turn into each other so it is safer to pass through the middle than when there’s a gap in one lane.

Also watch out for parked cars that may require a vehicle to swerve, pedestrian crossings for people walking out in front and any other place where a pedestrian might cross from behind a parked truck thinking that the stationary traffic makes it safe.

Remember also that people get lost in town and could make sudden manoeuvres without indicating. And never get complacent or cocky. Remember the statistic that two thirds of motorcycle accidents involve another vehicle. Which doesn’t mean don’t ride, simply that you are your own best friend here. Be smart.