Motorcycle Riding Tips for Navigating in City Traffic Eric Gaulin Motorcycle Maintenance blog According to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), over 4,000 people die in motorcycle accidents each year. These numbers are even scarier for older riders, who are increasingly taking up or returning to motorcycling after many years. One Consumer Reports article says, because of slower reflexes, weaker eyesight, more brittle bones, and other disadvantages, riders over 60 years old are three times more likely to be hospitalized after a crash than younger ones. Additionally, ten times more un-helmeted motorcyclists die in states without universal helmet laws than in states with such laws.  In 2008, a record of 5, 209 fatalities occurred!

No matter what you do to increase your visibility to others, there will always be drivers who won’t see you.  One motorcycle expert says, positioning is important: try not to ride adjacent to cars. You should always ride in the front line of vision of the driver behind you, not in their peripheral vision. Often people fail to use their turn signals, or even fail to check their blind spots, so keep alert and out of the blind spots of other vehicles. Place yourself so that if the driver unexpectedly moves into your lane, he/she will do so without hitting you.  In addition to this advice, there are a ton of other safety things you can be doing when riding your motorcycle.

Here are some additional Tips to Help Motorcyclists Navigate in City Traffic:

#1 – Lane Location

Eric Gaulin Motorcycle BlogA single lane is divided into three riding areas: right side, center, and left side. Obviously a road can have all sorts of lanes and a rider’s positioning will essentially depend on that.  However, if you are on a major highway with four to six lanes in one direction, the center is most likely the last place you want to be in traffic. Most riders are taught to slice and dice to the far left lane (minimize obstructions to one side completely) and then ride in the right side of that lane. Some riders will stay one lane from the left, but ride in the far left of said lane.  

Of course, if you are in city traffic, the left lane may be a real hindrance because of left turning vehicles, so opting for the center lane may be the best option. It really just depends where you feel comfortable, while at the same time keeping control and maintaining good distance. (Source: DMV)

#2 – Make Room for Others’ Mistakes

Eric Gaulin Motorcycle BlogOne expert says, in case you haven’t noticed, drivers make mistakes. Dozens of them, from no turn signal to last-minute freeway exits to locked brakes at a yellow light to-well, how long a list do you need? America’s current driver’s training programs aren’t going to correct America’s drivers in the foreseeable future, so the secret is to plan on and predict the mistakes and make sure you’re not affected. In other words, give ’em room to screw up.

Understand this: You won’t change the mistakes being made out there, but by recognizing and giving them room to happen, you won’t be negatively affected by them either. There’s no reason to get upset, violent, aggressive or reactionary; once you begin to make room for mistakes, it becomes almost humorous to watch the stupidity around you because you will no longer be taken by surprise or put in danger. (Source:

#3 – Escape Lanes 

Motorcycle Escape Lane on Eric Gaulin Motorcycle Maintenance BlogThe escape-lanes concept applies to two different situations: First, when stopped at an intersection, the car in front of you can become one third of a “meat sandwich” should the car coming up behind you fail to stop in time. Know whether you’d maneuver right or left in that situation. Also, remember to flash your brake light to attract a driver’s attention as they come up to the intersection behind you. I tend to keep a close eye on the approach of the car behind me, and only relax when I see them slow and come to a stop.

Second, while riding along pick a lane where, if necessary, you could swerve out of harm’s way. On my commute, this involves riding in the lane next to a bike path, or perhaps next to a painted median where I could possibly swerve to avoid a collision with a car. Riding next to raised medians should be avoided. (Source:

DMV urges all motorcyclists, regardless of age and experience, to consider taking a motorcycle safety course or training course even if it’s not required by the state in which they live. These courses are designed to help keep you from becoming a motorcycle safety statistic.  For additional information on motorcycle courses, visit the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) website.