Throttle therapy: Staying 'open' can save your life.
Your motorcycle safety depends on your ability to stay open to things that you might not yet know. One of the most limiting things we can tell ourselves is, “I know that.”
If you think you know something, and it turns out that you are wrong, that could be a costly error.
When you “know that,” you eliminate the possibility of new information entering your brain.
For example, I regularly see riders who don’t quite understand what “riding dominant” means. They don’t quite get that “the” dominant lane position is not a singular, stationary stance but rather a responsive one that continuously shifts depending on what’s happening in traffic around you.
But come class-time, it turns out that some of these, um, “knowledgeable” riders needed to unlearn some old (mis)information and plug in some new stuff.
One of the best things you can do if you ride a motorcycle is to take a skills refresher course if you’ve been riding for years; or, if you’re relatively new and haven’t already, look into taking a full course. And if you’re a wannabe considering becoming a biker, this is probably the singular most important thing you can do for your own safety and for your family’s piece of mind.
If you’re one of those who think you know everything, I ask you to take this short little quiz.
- Can you turn left on a red light?
- What is the difference between a single-solid broken yellow line?
- What’s the difference between a white solid line and a yellow solid line?
- When there’s two lanes travelling in the same direction and a car is stopped in one lane at a crosswalk, can you pass that vehicle if you know for a fact that the pedestrian has already crossed?
- When are school zones in effect, and what is the required speed limit?
- When are playground zones in effect, and what is the required speed limit?
- What is the main purpose of treads on your tire?
- Can you find your petcock lever while travelling at high speeds, without looking?
- A light turns red. A vehicle is stuck there in the intersection and is now annoyingly in your way. Who has right-of-way?
- I’m on my motorcycle and our paths cross. I wave. What should you do?
Before you look at the answers, think of how confident you are about being right.
Only after you’ve guaged your confidence, go ahead and look at the answers.
If you got all 10 right, you should consider becoming a teacher at any of the fine motorcycle safety schools.
If you got more than seven right, you are still amazing. If you’re hovering at five, perhaps you should take a refresher course. Anything less than five consider surrendering your licence. Or commit to taking a course.
Unlearning beliefs that we cling to can periodically be very enlightening and refreshing. And the only way this can come to pass is if you stay open to the fact that you may not know everything.
In a marriage, staying open can either save the marriage or accelerate an inevitable demise. In life, staying open will help you to (eventually) grow up. Maybe. And on a motorcycle, staying open can save your life.
- Yes, when turning onto a one-way. See Motor Vehicle Act s.129(4)(b). It is permissible to make a left turn at a red light onto a one-way street. However, you must ensure that all vehicles and pedestrians are clear of the intersection before you proceed.
- Nothing. See MVA s.155(1c).
- White separates traffic travelling in the same direction; yellow separates oncoming traffic.
- No. You may not overtake a vehicle that is slowing down or stopped at a crosswalk. See MVA s179(3).
- School zones are in effect between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. as posted, on school days. On holidays, weekends and PD days regular speeds apply. See MVA s147(1).
- Playground zones are in effect every day from sunrise to sunset. Speeds are as posted. See MVA s147(1).
- The main purpose of tire treads is to channel water away. Ever hydroplaned in a four-wheeler? It can be lethal on a two-wheeler.
- If you can’t, get your butt to a course asap.
- Whatever is in the intersection has the right-of-way. Period. MVA s127(1) will have you believe only vehicles that lawfully entered have right of way, but a good rule of thumb is that right-of-way is given, it’s not an entitlement.
- Wave. Gosh darnit.
Britt Santowski has been riding since she was 25, and served as a Chief Instructor with the Vancouver Island Safety Council, where she taught for nine years.