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A Safety Maneuver "go right before going left" advice, for what its worth.

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In view of the recent reported tragic accident, this bit of advice might be useful, for what its worth:


Sometimes in the traffic situations we have now, the safer, if less convenient gambit is to "go right before going left". 


What that means is going beyond one's would-be cross traffic left-hand turn, turning right at a traffic light controlled corner or into a parking lot where a side street with a traffic light controlled corner can be accessed.  Once turned around, then back to the traffic light, turn left through the light to head back to your original intended left-hand turn now on your right side.   A bit inconvenient but safer given small lights, no or poorly-visible turn signals and slower maneuver times with manual shift and 'arm-strong' steering.  


Think of it in plan view as a 'cotter pin-shaped' maneuver.  Whether this tactic saves an accident, we'll never know for sure but its worth practicing when the situation warrants it. 

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I was very sorry to hear of the car/motorcycle accident that is the subject of this thread.  Either the motorcycle that hit the Model A was very heavy or it was going very fast.  In either case the outcome was tragic.  I rode motorcycles for over 50yrs and managed to not get killed.  That's a miracle because in my early days of motorcycling I lacked understanding of how dangerous it is to be on 2 wheels with no passenger restraint systems and no protective structure around.  I actually learned to ride at the age of 15 by sneaking my brother's brand new 1966 Yamaha Catalina 250 road bike out of the garage which was a target of opportunity because I got out of middle school across the street from home 2hrs before anyone else was going to be home and my brother always left the keys for the Yamaha laying on a table in his room.  I started by just learning to get it on and off the center stand, it outweighed me by a couple hundred pounds.  Then I learned to start it, followed by learning how to use the clutch and first gear in the driveway followed by riding helmet-less around the 25 mph residential streets of our sub at too high speeds and finally out on the main highways in shorts, no helmet, no eye protection, no gloves.  I was actually building my first motorcycle by adding a 5hp Lauson lawnmower engine to a Schwinn Stingray bicycle.  One day my brother came home from his co-op job at the Ford Livonia Transmission and Chassis plant to ride his new motorcycle.  When he nearly burned his hands on the hot engine of the Yamaha that arrived back in the garage after my last joy ride 5 minutes before he got home he quietly neglected to leave the keys home anymore.  Work progressed on the home made cycle and I took it on it's first test ride in the subdivision.  I was doing probably 30mph when I got to the end of the street across from the lady raking leaves on the boulevard and made 2 discoveries, A- the Schwinn needed some kind of brakes and B- it didn't like to turn on short notice at speed.  I wound up making part of my turn in the lady's driveway and managed to get back to the garage without killing anyone.  Later I got caught by the local police riding the contraption without a license but by that time it had brakes and they were so impressed they told me to ride it home and get an assembler's title, add lights, horn and mirror and license it which I did to my father's horror.    He was a Ford engineering manager and Ford was on a huge vehicle safety crusade.  He knew he couldn't talk me out of motorcycles by that point but was bound and determined to get me on something with more robust safety equipment than offered by a 50mph home-built on bicycle tires, so for Christmas I got a 1966 Yamaha Trail 80, my first real motorcycle.


In 50yrs I fell off 4 times without serious injury, once trying to ride my new Yamaha on glare iced winter roads on knobby tires just yards from our driveway, once as a passenger on another Yamaha trail 80 in a wet asphalt parking lot, again on my bike when at wide open throttle on the 51 tooth trail gear when it hooked a piece of concrete re-rod anchored in a concrete boulder in the ground at the local waste transfer site (very scary- ever stop a model airplane engine by throwing a rag into the propeller-  EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEYIPP) I exited over the handle bars at 40mph and when I came to the Yamaha was standing upright hooked by the foot peg cross bar on the re-rod, and once on first ride after having new tires installed on a Honda VFR750F road bike I restored when I tried to beat the traffic light and leaned it over to make a right turn and wound up on the ground in the intersection still hanging onto the right handlebar where I clicked the kill switch, then winding up looking straight into the grill of a 1970 Buick Gran Sport that was following me around to corner.  Thank god he was watching or I would have been a new menu item at the local roadkill cafe!  I later read a Cycle World article on the plane on company business that the mold release agent used in manufacture of motorcycle tires was very slippery and dangerous until the tires were run for an hour at speed and resultant heating to burn the stuff off.  If I had know that I would have stopped for the yellow traffic light, saved the drama and about $1000. worth of Honda fiberglass full fairing parts, rubber hand grip, shift lever, brake levers and a muffler can.


After the first 3 of these incidents I became quite interested in rider safety which included the best full coverage helmet I could buy, good leather or kevlar jackets and pants, heavy boots and kevlar gloves which were all employed regardless of how hot the weather.  I reasoned that if I imagined all that stuff was hot on 90degree days it would have been nothing compared to how hot a coworker's shoulder was after he went down on a Honda Goldwing i sold him at 80mph on wet asphalt in the Poconos riding in a T-shirt.  He came to work for a month that summer with his exposed shoulder looking like a pizza pie and having to report to the UofM Burn Center every couple of days to have his wounds debreeded and painted with Betadine disinfectant.   


The motorcycles were all equipped with the loudest Fiamm horns, Bosch or Cibie quartz halogen headlights, daytime running lights and light horns.  All had excellent wet brake performance save for the Honda Goldwing which had stainless solid rotor disc brakes that were totally lost once wet for a good distance until they dried off.  My BMW's had the best predictable wet pavement brakes, combining drum brakes and drilled rotor iron disc brakes that lost nothing in performance or predictability in wet going.


But the most important safety feature, the one that more often saved my bacon contained the following ingredients.  


A. Driver condition:  NEVER drink alcohol within 24hrs of riding a motorcycle.   Don't ride tired, sleepy or while taking medicines that may reduce your reaction times.

B. Vehicle condition:  CHECK all safety equipment on the motorcycle and the stuff you wear on your body for proper operation, lights, turn signals, mirrors, brakes, chain tension and tire condition and pressures on the bike, helmet, clean face plate, jacket and pants, boots and gloves for proper fit and condition.  A tire pressure gauge and a good rain suit were always on board.


C. Most important and applicable to this thread- driver skills/technique/attitude:  I ALWAYS rode like I was a ghost in traffic and no one knew I was there.  I always rode in the part of the lane that made me most visible to other vehicles, left side of right lane where my headlight was in the outside rear view mirror of the car in front of me and tail light was visible to car behind, center of center lane, headlight in inside rear view mirror of car in front, not a good lane to stay in because cars in other lanes can't see you, right side of passing lane where headlight was in the outside rear view mirror of the car in front.  Never pass on the right.  Never change lanes or make a turn without checking all mirrors and looking over your shoulder.  Never tailgate, the guy in front of you is about to avoid a tire carcass or an old muffler by centering it up and rolling right over it, you can't see it until it's too late to avoid because you took the time to anticipate away from your self by tailgating and you are riding in the part of the lane that is obstructed- bang you just hit a muffler...  Never avoid traffic by passing between lanes or on the shoulder  You can really make time on the shoulder when traffic is stopped until someone opens a door in front of you..  Never ride side by side with another vehicle especially hanging around the back of a semi trailer.  Never ride at much higher speed than surrounding traffic- the absolute speed won't kill you but differential speed combined with a car suddenly entering your lane WILL kill you.  Always have an open planned escape route.  This is really hard and most dangerous when sitting in a left turn lane waiting for traffic and a light to make a left turn, hard to have an escape route and a great place to get rear ended- watch your mirrors and the traffic in front of you.  ASSUME NOTHING:  As soon as you trust another to look out for you you are gonna get hurt. 


I finally quit riding at age 68 because I sustained a belly hernia reaching over the vertical fuel tank profile to a set of low clip-on handlebars while riding a fabulously fun to ride Ducati 996 Superbike due to the fact I was overweight.  Tearing a stomach muscle is a painful and continuous reminder that it was time to hang up my helmet.  Slowing reaction times and loss of mobility and stamina were other considerations along with a wife who is scared to death of motorcycles.  The survival skills I learned on motorcycles is not lost on cars.  My wife is always impressed at my clever maneuvers that have avoided serious accidents by anticipating them, a couple of times when approaching traffic was obviously moving too fast approaching a curve on an icy road and many times spotting deer far enough down the road to get stopped safely.  My eyes are always moving and I still always try to have a place to go if someone else makes a dangerous move.  I never pull out to pass or make a left turn without looking in the mirrors and turning my head to look...


This was my first real motorcycle after my dad discovered I was hooked.  He thought this to be a bit safer than the Schwinn

Stingray I made into a "motorcycle" of sorts by adding a 5hp Lauson lawnmower motor, caliper brakes, horn, mirrors and battery

operated lights.  After all that it still had tiny spokes, tube bicycle tires and no suspension whatever...

MC001 1966 Yamaha-YG1T.jpg


This is a Yamaha Catalina 250 like the one my brother had and that I learned to ride on by borrowing the keys he left

at home to joy ride it.   He finally caught me because the engine was still hot when he came home early one day from

his summer co-op job at Ford to ride it.  I had just wheeled it back into the garage and got in the house before he arrived.



When the water cooled opposed cylinder Honda Gold Wing came out in 1975 I just had to have one.  I discovered while

it had water cooling, was very smooth, quiet and powerful the heavy exhaust pipes near the foot controls radiated

a lot of heat, it didn't handle particularly well, was heavy and those stainless front brake rotors wouldn't even

slow the bike down for awhile if wet.

MC007 1975 Honda GL1000 Gold Wing.jpg


In 1977 I bought my second BMW motorcycle, an R100S which turned out to be my all time favorite. 

It weighed 456lbs with 6.5 gallons of gas on board, got 50mpg at 70mph except in fierce headwinds,

had 126mph top end, great lights and horns, great riding comfort with the little bikini fairing and with it's

low CG and great all weather brakes was very confidence inspiring...

MC010 1977 BMW R100S.jpg


Leather was always hot in summer heat.  The Aerostich riding suit pictured here was a bit cooler, had lots of light reflecting panels to improve visibility to other drivers and provided neck to ankle coverage.  Boots, gloves and the best helmet I could find rounded out my safety apparel. 

Motorcycle clothing.JPG


This is a Honda VFR750F like the one I was riding when I had an unfortunate incident trying to beat a yellow traffic

light by making a fast right turn when it went down in a heap leaving me on the pavement staring into the grill of a Buick

that was following me around the corner.  I was fortunate enough not to be run over but all that plastic stuff was in pieces

and turned into and expensive lesson on cutting corners on new tires wet with mold release agent...

MC012 1986 Honda VFR750F Interceptor.jpg


These are the last 2 motorcycles out of some 35 I owned just before I quit riding.  The one on the left is a BMW R1100S which was a pretty good long range road bike I could climb on and ride 400 miles to the cottage and the Ducati 996 Superbike which was a 90degree V-twin with Desmodromic valve train and a 160mph top end.  It was the most challenging and rewarding motorcycle I ever rode. 

Dave's Euro Cycle Shop 009.JPG


When I quit I had a bigger wardrobe of riding apparel than I ever had business attire.  That's me behind the counter sporting my other helmet.  That same garage stall is now home for the 1931 Buick 8-66S I get my thrills from today...

Ducati Dave 006.JPG



Edited by Str8-8-Dave
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Some years back I started making the conscious decision to plan my local driving routes with the majority of right hand turns. There was one intersection in particular that inspired the thought. A while back, when my wife was still working at the library, a couple came in all banged up from being T-boned at that intersection.


I also keep getting "The Rodeo Song" stuck in my head from watching other drivers. It happened this morning heading westbound on the expressway with an empty ten wheeler dump truck behind and beside...... always seems the "professional" drivers bring that song to my thoughts.

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5 hours ago, dibarlaw said:

I have to do that on Route 30 here in Chambersburg quite a bit. The 3 lane with center "suicide" turning lane as we call it out here. 

Rt 30 is that way from about Morgantown and on to points west. Really fun around the Strasburg/Lancaster area on a nice weekend afternoon!


I try to be diligent where ever I drive and in what ever I am driving. To the point that my wife tells me I drive like an old man, of which I suppose I am to some people.  I have driven all over the country in cars and motorcycles successfully, and hope to continue to do so. Just the other day we were sitting at an intersection and 2 young fellows on sport motorcycles raced through the light around traffic and off in a high speed pursuit of each other. I made a remark to my son that it looked like a recipe for disaster. 


I too started riding motorcycles at a young age. I was 9 in 1973, couldnt touch the ground from the seat of my brothers kawasaki 100, so he would hold it up for me to get going. I had to stop where he was to be caught so I didnt fall over. Have been riding since.

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My nephew-in-law is some administrator (can't remember exact title) for UPS. Because a large number of left turn accidents and time wasted waiting to turn left, he said some years back UPS spent a great deal of man-hours and $$ on computers to design the routes of their delivery vehicles to reduce or eliminate left turns on their routes. Makes a lot of sense for both reasons.

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If I eliminated left hand turns in NE TN it might take me an hour or more longer to go some places. 

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Jim, I hear ya! I live sort of in the boonies and if I made only right-hand turns I would have to drive an extra 20+ miles to go to the next town. Still, for big-city driving, it makes sense.

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