Doesn’t that sound like a great title for a kids’ cartoon series?
I’m seeing SMIDSY as a dim-witted, but lovable bunny, while SAM is his solemn and stern friend (a beaver) – ever ready to get SMIDSY out of the endless scrapes he gets himself into.
I know, I know, I need to get out more…
Anyway, before I get too carried away (which I did in making that image), I had better bring us back to reality with the explanation that SMIDSY and SAM are abbreviations which describe a situation us scooter riders find ourselves in quite often – and offers a technique you may consider, if it seems appropriate to you.
I can see that there exists the potential for some controversy with this one, so I’d like to say now that the following isn’t a technique I invented, it is something I am presenting to “round out” our education, as it were. I will leave it up to the reader whether they choose to implement it at times, or not.
So, without further ado, let me introduce:
SMIDSY stands for “Sorry Mate, I Didn’t See You“. Something that some of the less fortunate among us get to hear after a car driver has just pulled out right in front of us.
I am hoping that you have read my previous blog post entitled: Visibility on a Scooter. Z-motion, X-motion, and why cars pull out in front of us. If you haven’t, I would ask you to read that before you continue any further.
You will recall that in that post, I talked about one of the main reasons why car drivers often simply don’t see us. It is because the human eye is much more receptive to motion across its field of vision (x-motion) than to motion directly towards it (z-motion).
Scooters, with their relatively small frontal area, present very little x-motion to a driver right up until the point where we’re virtually on top of them.
We are in this situation most often when we are approaching a vehicle which is waiting to enter the road we are currently riding along.
This results in the infamous SMIDSY. (“Bang”… “Sorry mate, I didn’t see you!”)
Now, at the time, I offered the explanation as to why this happens to us so often, and gave some common sense techniques for avoiding it.
There is, however, a more pro-active technique that some people use. It is based on the simple premise that if we are offering very little x-motion when going towards a vehicle, say, waiting at a junction, then why don’t we create some x-motion?
How we do this, is by introducing:
The SAM stands for the “SMIDSY Avoidance Manoeuvre”.
The theory is that, as we are approaching a hazard such as this, we consider introducing a gentle weave into our path. This will present some much-needed x-motion to the driver, and, hopefully, give us a better chance of standing out from the clutter of the background we often “hide” in.
Now, I have to say here and now that I would not suggest weaving across our lane when we are in busy traffic, or when we would put ourselves into conflict with any other traffic, but, on a quiet road where there is very little traffic aside from us, it may be a place for us to consider this.
For my part, I have used this technique at times – when there was very little other traffic about, and when my “spider sense” was telling me that the driver hadn’t seen me.
When I have, I have always, of course, made sure that when nearing the car, I have shifted my position to the far side of the lane to create that buffer between us should the car start to come out, looked for my escape route, adjusted my speed accordingly, and considered sounding my horn.
So, there it is, the SMIDSY and the SAM.
I will end this post as I started, with the cartoon theme, and say: “That’s all folks!”
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