First commute ride - loading the dice! - Kawasaki Vulcan 750 Forum : Kawasaki VN750 Forums
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-22-2009, 10:57 AM Thread Starter
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First commute ride - loading the dice!

I've wanted to ride the moto to work for ages. However, I have to go right through downtown during Atlanta's famous rush-hour. That makes me nervous in our Explorer, much less hanging out in the breeze.

Today I loaded the dice in my favor by taking advantage of all the vacationers NOT going to their pull their oars today. Traffic was relatively light and I had a marvelous ride to work. Plenty of room to avoid cagers, and they had less to stress them out and make 'em do stupid things. I always load the dice by riding high-viz ATGATT - never more important than in rush hour.

Planning to ride the Vulcan the rest of the week. Next week it'll be mayhem as usual and I'll go back to four wheels, but for now the road is MINE! Well, not mine, but I don't have to share it with too many others.

DID I HAVE A POINT??? Not really. Perhaps to share that there is often a workaround if you can't actually fix a problem (ATL traffic!).

Laissez les bon temps rouler!

Coastered, R&R relocation, MCCT's, Koso mirrors, Memphis Shades windshield, Mutazu GA hard bags, big monkey in the saddle. ATGATT: Olympia AST hi-viz jacket, Recon 2 (convertible) pants
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-22-2009, 05:07 PM
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I feel like you do about riding in heavy traffic on the Cager ways. I'm retired and do most of my riding on back roads, if feel a lot safer riding that way. I us to ride the bike to work but that was only about 2 miles to work, the bike didn't really get warmed up enough going to work.

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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-22-2009, 07:10 PM
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I warm the bike up BEFORE riding off on it.

I will, and have, ride through almost anything, but as far as commuting goes, to me, it is just no fun anyway, might as well take the car, and save the motorcycle for more FUN riding.

By far the biggest danger trying to commute on a motorcycle on the urban freeways around here is being rear ended. Traffic will be moving along at 55-65 mph, then, for no apparent reason, come to almost a complete stop, very suddenly. This happens all the time. Add to that that most cagers are busy on their cell phones, laptops, reading the paper, putting on makeup, shaving, eating, watching something on their indash DVD player, and a whole lot of other things besides driving, and we have 20-30 rear end collisions per day, many including multiple vehicles. 5 or 6 car pileups are not uncommon. It is so common, that there are signs up all over the place that say "in the event of a minor crash, remove vehicles from roadway". Now if you are in this traffic on a motorcycle, especially after dark, you could easily be seriously injured or killed. The few times I've ridden I've ridden in it, I keep my 4 way hazard flashers (another nice feature of the Vulcan) on, and keep flashing my brakelight, hoping whoever is behind me is paying attention. I keep a few feet between me and the vehicle in front of me for an escape route, but you would literally have a fraction of a second to see the situation, react to it, and take evasive action. Hell, I even keep the hazard flashers on in my car under 30 mph (legal in my state) in traffic like this. Jerry.

I am a motorcyclist, NOT a biker.


1997 Vulcan 750, purchased about a week ago
2006 Sportster 1200 Low
2013 Royal Enfield Bullet 500, converted to carb
2001 Yamaha XT225, heavily modified
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Last edited by VN750Rider/Jerry; 12-22-2009 at 07:12 PM.
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-22-2009, 07:24 PM
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I don't feel that apprehinsive going through rush hour traffic on my bike. My main concern usually is that all the stop and go tends to overheat the bike and put a drain on the battery.

On a hot day it is just miserable of course...heat comming off all those cars, sun beating down on you, and a pizza oven between you legs. Not fun.


Realisticly, I think you are safer in rush hour traffic than riding resdential streets. Everyone in traffic may be in a hurry and a bad mood, but they tend to keep their eyes open and really don't want to get home any later because they were involved in an accident.

The old man pulling out of the driveway without even looking on some side street is more of a threat.

I can see where being "surrounded" by cars might seem dangerous, but being smaller actually gives you an advantage over the other vehicles. They can't sqeeze in between cars like you can if someone cuts you off.

High visibility does help, and making sure not to ride in another cars blind spot. In heavy traffic I find a nice big car with a driver that is not 100 years old, not on a cell phone, and plant myself right next to their door...they become my offencive line. I keep an eye out not only for dangers to me, but dangers to my blocker. As traffic flows unevenly per lane, I will scout out several of these offensive linemen and use them along the way.
They constantly know I am there so they never make any moves towards me, and if I can I will use the far left lane and place the blocker to my right. This way I only have 2 directions to concentrate on ..front and rear...but still keeping an eye out for cars invading my blockers space.

I tend to use this strategy anytime I am riding in highway traffic, but it helps most when there are alot of cars and patches of stop and go.

KM

If You Are Not Sure If I Am Joking or Not....I AM !!Photos:
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-23-2009, 10:24 AM
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Riding in the ATL

I ride everyday around Atlanta,rain or shine.I'm not too fast in bad weather & I ride like everybodys out to KILL me.From what I've seen so far is women {any age,any race} in red cars seems to be the biggest problem other the Mexicans that don't unerstand english or the driving laws.I own two cages myself but enjoy the adventure of the ride.

Last edited by Wileysden; 12-23-2009 at 10:47 AM.
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-23-2009, 03:42 PM
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I commute at night. Except for summer mornings, all of this is in the dark. I drive city streets, interstate, and two lane rural on this commute, and feel that the interstate is the safest place to ride, except for merging traffic and cell phone users. The two lane rural is good, except for deer. The urban section takes be past two bars...on Fridays that calls for a little m ore caution. The place that I feel is by far the most dangerous is an alternate route I used to take...a rural twisty along a river. The turns are not banked, there is often fog in the morning, and too many drivers cross lanes in the turns. Plus my lights can't see around the curves.


Jim
'95 Kawasaki Concours

Sold my Vulcan




I do LOTS of dumb stuff. Riding is only one of them.
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-11-2010, 11:06 PM
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Tiki - where are you in Atlanta - I'm out in Lilburn - I ride all over the place here in and around town - when I have to ride in heavy traffic I just pick my route to try and keep some air moving. and when the traffic is not too heavy I just ride by my #1 rule - don't ride beside a car ever. Atlanta can be a fun place to ride. holler out and lets ride sometime

That can't be my bike - it aint movin'
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-12-2010, 09:06 AM
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90% of my riding time (obviously not by distance) is commuting in New York Frakkin' City on a VN750 (through dense Queens to midtown Manhattan), so yes, it can be done. I've been doing it for over 4 years now (ever since the last transit strike), weather permitting. Wear hi-vis, especially at night, get a LOUD horn and pay attention to the traffic flow.

Most of this advice is often also given out in various safe riding/driving courses, but I can tell you each of them has saved me from getting hit more than a few times.

If a car slows down next to you or ahead of you a little bit, assume that driver is thinking about turning or merging right in front of you. Same thing with a car coming from the other direction at an intersection, if he slows down at all, assume he's thinking about turning, no matter what lane he's in. I've seen people suddenly cut over from 2 lanes over to make a turn at the last minute -- but even those nutjobs tap the brakes before entering the turn!

Whenever possible, go through an intersection next to or right behind a car. The driver waiting to make a left turn may not see you, but probably won't miss seeing the car.

By the same token, be careful when riding very closely behind a large vehicle (like a truck) in congested street traffic, if your lane is moving better than the others. A driver in a slower lane may see what he thinks is a gap between cars behind the truck in his side/rear view mirror, and not see you because of the truck's size, and cut over quickly from a standstill to get into that space behind the truck (where you are).

If you're looking for a sign that a car is going to change lanes (into or towards you), look the front tires of a car. Many drivers don't signal, but the wheels don't lie. If they're straight, he's going straight; if they're starting to turn, the car is going to start to change direction.

I don't recommend splitting lanes between moving cars, but I do recommend doing so between stationary cars at a traffic light (though this is technically illegal where I live, I have never been busted on this). Getting the jump on a cluster of cars about to move at the same time when the light turns green keeps you out of that pack, and also greatly reduces the chances of getting rear-ended by someone who for whatever reason doesn't see you and is advancing to the bumper of the car in front of you.

"Until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore, you will not know the terror of being forever lost at sea." (Despair.com)

Last edited by robardin; 02-12-2010 at 09:10 AM.
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-12-2010, 03:36 PM
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I rode home from work today in the snow/slush.A couple of times I put both feet down while turning on to a side street.I felt like I was dirt tracken { getten side ways} a few times.Soon as I got home,did a shot of Wild Turkey !! Don't think I'l try that anytime soon again.
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-12-2010, 04:35 PM
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Several good examples of why I would not commute to work on a bike if I couldn't lane split. If I'm going to be required by law to sit in the line of cars then I might as well not sweat my balz off or freeze to death by doing so in my cage.

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