Proficient Scootering – The Book. You Asked, and I Listened!

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Proficient Scootering - A comprehensive guide to safe, efficient and enjoyable scooter ridingYou asked, and I listened!

I’m very excited to announce that, after two years quietly writing and re-writing behind the scenes, drawing countless diagrams, and taking photographs, “Proficient Scootering” is available now for all the popular e-readers!

For those who prefer a traditional book, the print version should be available next week!

I wish to thank all who prompted me to create this work. It has been a labour of love. I excitedly let it out into the world. Fly my pretties!

Take a look at the Books page for more details.

The Traffic Light Gotcha

TrafficLight

OK, it’s admission time. Who goes to YouTube, and watches those “Crash Compilation” videos? Nobody admitting it? Well, OK. I’ll go first. I do!

Now, in my defence, I don’t merely watch them for voyeuristic reasons. I watch them to see if there is anything that can be learned from the mistakes that have been made.

You see, I adamantly refuse to call crashes “accidents”. Very rarely indeed is a crash the result of an accident. OK, maybe the unfortunate soul who is riding along when a rock dislodges from the cliff above, and knocks the hapless individual on his noggin… that could be called an accident. Well, possibly the guy who is riding along, minding his own business when a freak wind blows a carelessly discarded newspaper on to his visor — causing him to lose control as he is desperately trying to see through the sports section… that could be called an accident. But no more! For everything else, there is culpability.

Further, most crashes are the result of a “perfect storm” of two or more occurrences coinciding. Say the result of a rider making the mistake of passing in a junction when a  driver in front turns without signalling. Or the rider going too hot into a turn just when the deer decides to cross the road.

As can be seen, removing just one of the contributing factors from most crashes would have prevented it. Such is the case with the scenario I am talking about today. I mentioned earlier about the YouTube videos that display compilations of crashes. A disturbingly common scene amongst these is the “Traffic Light Gotcha”. It is the result of bad positioning (and often bad lane discipline) on the part of the rider, and the rider’s inability to see the danger in front of them. Observation Links and playing the “What If” game should prevent this happening to you.

So, after all that preamble, let me present: “The Traffic Light Gotcha”.

TheTrafficLightGotchaThe situation outlined in the diagram is one in which you will often find yourself. You are passing through a junction with a green light where there is a filter (turning) lane on both sides of the junction. People on your side of the road are waiting to turn left, and people on the opposite lane are also waiting to turn left.

Take a look at the position of the scooter. In this position the rider is very effectively hidden from the view of the cars waiting to turn across your path. At the point where the rider is visible to the cars waiting to turn from the opposite direction, he/she suddenly “pops” into view, leaving next to no time for the driver to react.

Of course, just as the drivers have very little time to see the scooter, and react, the rider is also greatly limiting his or her view and ability to react.

You should remember from previous posts that I talk about the dual needs to maintain maximum view and visibility at all times. In other words, it is crucial that we keep ourselves in a position where we gain maximum view of the hazards ahead, but it is just as crucial that we present ourselves to those hazards. These dual requirements are, fortunately, both effected in the same way.

So, the safer alternative should be obvious. It is depicted in the diagram below:

TheTrafficLightGotcha2By passing through that junction in the right lane, you are presenting yourself much more effectively, and you are giving yourself much more time to react — should the driver turn in front of you.

Of course, there should be no reason for you to be riding in the left lane anyway, unless you are making an imminent left turn yourself, or there is some other good reason to be there. Keep right except to pass is a rule which, sadly, is often ignored for the most bizarre reasons, but it is a rule with very good reasons nonetheless.

One final point about the second diagram: do you notice that the scooter is towards the left of his/her lane? Can you think of the reason for this? Yes, it is because of the car waiting at the junction on the right. As we are riding, we are continually assessing the hazards presented to us, planning contingencies, and creating buffer zones between us and the perceived hazards. The distance, or amount, of these buffer zones is commensurate with the severity of each hazard which we see. Clearly, the car waiting to turn left is presenting the greatest hazard, yet the car waiting at the light on his/her right is also presenting a hazard. For this reason, the rider is allowing a little buffer from that hazard as well.

A good, experienced rider will develop a sense of situations which make them uneasy; which get their danger senses tingling. The scenario outlined above — the “Traffic Light Gotcha” should get those senses screaming at you. If you cannot ensure that you are in the right lane when encountering this scenario, much extra care should be taken, and consider sounding your horn if you are not sure that the oncoming driver has seen you.

So, let’s be safe out there and, at all costs, don’t fall foul of “The Traffic Light Gotcha”.

Until next time, Scoot Safely!

 

 

The Print Version of “Proficient Scootering” is Here!

CoverSmallerAfter much frustration with the publishers, and much work to try to get the print cost down, I’m happy to announce that the print version of “Proficient Scootering” is finally here!

So, if you have haven’t quite got into the e-readers yet, or simply prefer the feel of good old-fashioned paper in your hand, I have you covered. Mosey on over to the books page for details.

Deer Strikes – Lessening The Odds

Photo courtesy: Liz Noffsinger

Photo courtesy: Liz Noffsinger

There was a definite unfamiliar chill to the  air this morning. It reminds me that glorious summer is preparing to give way to spectacular fall.

Even for the “fair weather riders” amongst us, there are still plenty of great riding days ahead. Sadly, along with the spectacular show that mother nature provides for us each year, she brings a heightened danger from our wood-dwelling fauna — most notably the deer. Continue reading

Photography From The Saddle

I have two great loves. One, which won’t surprise you, is two-wheeled transport. The other is photography – more particularly, landscape photography. Fortunately for me, they are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they complement each other very well.

One of my greatest pleasures is to load Bella with my photography gear, and to head off into the wilderness in search of good photographs. Bella, incidentally, is my 2009 Vespa GTV 250. Venturing out in search of photographs is my form of hunting or fishing (except that no animals get harmed in the process). I make the reference to hunting because – just like the fishermen can report – a very enjoyable day can be had without catching a thing. What a great reason to get out and ride!

In a light-hearted departure from the usual subject of this blog, I’d like to share with my readers a scooter/photography trip I took at this time last year. Continue reading

Where Have I Been?

I surely need to start this post with an apology to my dear readers. It has been a long time — way too long — since I last posted on ScootSafely.

Some major upheavals on the home and work front have taken my attention for quite some time now, and have meant that I’ve had little time to pay attention to Scoot Safely. Hopefully, as things have calmed a little, I shall be back among the living in the blogosphere!

Still, I haven’t been idle! Here’s what I’ve been doing… Continue reading

Piaggio BV350 Review

Piaggio BV350It has been quite some time since a new scooter created such a buzz among the scooter community as Piaggio’s new BV350.

I have watched with interest all the speculation leading up to the launch, and read with interest the opinions of the lucky people to first get their hands on the BV 350.

Well, thanks once again to my friends at Vespa Marietta, I was given the opportunity to judge for myself whether the machine lived up to expectations. Let’s see… Continue reading

A Word to Car Drivers

Listen, car drivers kill us motorcyclists and scooter riders all the time by pulling out in front of us.

Because of this, please cut us a little slack when we’re wary around you.

To the guy pulling out of the gas station this morning: there you were, squinting into the sun, shielding your eyes with your hand. I was coming from the direction of the sun. You (of course) had no turn signal on, but I surmised you were about to turn left – from the great US turn signal.
The US turn signal, incidentally, is the two round black rubber things at the front of your car which can often – but not always – be relied upon to be pointing in the general direction you intend to turn. That’s all you’ve given me to work with… I’m sorry. Continue reading

Observation Links

Today, I’d like to talk a little about really honing our powers of observation:

Observations skills (and the use we make of the information gathered during observation) are arguably the most important skills we have to help us stay safe out there on our scooters.

Imagine a scenario where two riders encounter the same situation while doing their daily commute. For our purposes it could be any hazard situation. Let’s say – a car suddenly coming over the brow of a hill encroaching on your side of the road.
(Actually, I’m using this example because it’s a real-life situation that cropped up while I was taking my advanced motorcycle test).

For one rider, it’s a complete non-event. For the other, it’s a panic stricken, stressful moment. How could that be so? Continue reading

Steering, and the Great Counter-Steering Debate

Scooter Steering and Counter-Steering

So, what’s all this we keep hearing about counter-steering?

It’s a buzz phrase we tend to hear often among the scooter and motorcycle community. Some riders spend their entire life riding – and have never heard of it. Some espouse the merits of active attention to it, and some claim it’s a myth! Continue reading