Swerving in and out of traffic, tailgating, quickly accelerating and just mostly acting like a pariah on the road.
All examples of offensive riding.
You know the type. They annoy other drivers and make those of us who ride respectfully and within the confines of the law simmer with anger. They give motorcyclists a bad name. Bottom line, it's not the way to ride and for many reasons.
Riding defensively gives you the best opportunity to get where you want to go safely. You need to look out for you which means looking out for everyone else because no one actually gets in their car and thinks "I need to look out for motorcyclists." Add cell phones and other modern day in-car distractions to the list, the road can be a most hazardous place to ride a motorcycle.
Defensive riding can take on several attributes from what you wear to how you approach an intersection and even machine maintenance. Remember drivers ed? So much to cover and even after passing your test you probably still had some apprehension about going it alone. But the class helped, so our first word of advice is to take a defensive riding course. You will learn and practice defensive riding skills to make you a better and safer motorcyclist.
To get you started we will cover some basics that don't require hands-on technique but something to keep in mind every time you saddle up.
1. Assume No One Ever Sees You...
Drivers, other riders, even pedestrians often don't see you so just assume whoever you share the road with has no idea you are there. That means the burden rests with you to anticipate everyone else's every move. Thus, you need to ride defensively by taking your time and not put yourself in a compromising situation that could result with you on the ground.
When you ride with the belief that every driver will hit you, you take on a completely different style of riding.
2. ...But Be Seen
Always ride with the lights on. Keep the headlamp bright and shiny. Some riders have a flickering or blinking style head light that probably scares some drivers because it looks similar to law enforcement but it certainly gets people's attention. You can also add additional lighting as reinforcements to the existing headlamp.
Use your horn. Little else gets a zoned off driver's attention that you are there than the sound of a horn. Yes, loud pipes work but when seconds count you want the ease of engaging the horn.
Wear high visibility clothing. Most protective gear for motorcycles have reflective properties that work especially well at night. Don't wear all dark gear for night riding either. Find bright and reflective colors for your helmet and jacket.
3. Follow the Rules of the Road
Leave the racing on the track. Ride the speed limit, use turn signals, don't tailgate and obey traffic signs and lights. Not only does this prevent traffic tickets but offers you the best chance of avoiding the pavement.
4. Don't Fight Fire With Fire
If you encounter an aggressive driver get away from them. Never mind tailgaters, people who cut you off or those who give foul hand signals. Motorcycles are no match for cars. Read that again. Therefore, whether you encounter an unintentionally or intentionally aggressive driver pull over, slow down or leave the area.
5. Remain Vigilant
As much as the open road entices with the promise of a long and relaxing cruise, unfortunately, riding motorcycles takes quite a bit of mental energy and physical exertion. When riding, always remain vigilant of other riders, road hazards and your own well-being. Riding takes much more effort than driving a car and exhaustion often sets in pretty quick.
These tips on defensive riding cover the basics and hopefully serve as reminders every time you ride.