It's all too easy to get a little heated on the road when someone cuts you off or doesn't realize you're there. What can we do about it? DanDantheFireman offers five tips to help you keep your cool instead of going into road rage.
1. Fighting Over Lanes
One of the easiest ways to anger a biker is for a car to pull into the lane we're already in. They either don't know we're already occupying the lane, or they simply don't care. It's completely wrong of them, but it's a battle we're never going to win. Motorcycles weigh hundreds of pounds. Cars weigh thousands of pounds. When push comes to shove, we're going to get shoved every time.
Fortunately, we have maneuverability on our side. If a car tries to give you the side squeeze, either change lanes, brake to get behind them, or accelerate ahead of them. They're going to take the space whether you're there or not, whether it's right or not.
2. Being Intimidated By A Truck
Trucks are even bigger and heavier than cars, plus they have enormous blind spots. At highway speeds, the wind gusts they generate can both suck you in and push you away from the truck, all in the same pass. It's easy to get intimidated by one.
Try not to ride anywhere near a truck, especially next to one. Personally, I won't pass a truck until I have enough clear road ahead of me to drop a gear, squirt past pretty quick, then slow back down to the speed of traffic. That way I'm in the blind spots for as short a time as possible. I also keep my grip on the handlebars loose, but expect those wind gusts to push me around as I pass beside the truck.
3. Car Shares The Lane At A Stop Light
You may have been there first, but sometimes a car acts like a motorcycle, and pulls up alongside you rather than staying behind you where they belong. It's like lane filtering, except reversed. While a few states permit bikes to do this, nowhere allows a car to.
DanDantheFireman believes the best approach is to politely tell them they're not allowed to do it, but that's it's okay and they should stay where they are. His reasoning behind this is because it's the same benefit as lane filtering, except the car put itself there, not you. You're getting the same protection from traffic as if you had filtered yourself. The only potential issue is if a cop rolls up and you have to try and explain that the car filtered, not you.
4. Stuck Behind A Slow Car
Everyone hates it when they get to their favorite stretch of road only to get stuck by someone going at least 10 mph under the speed limit. It's not only frustrating for us, but also dangerous, especially when another car catches up going a not unusual 10 mph over the limit. Even if you don't get crushed between the cars, the driver behind you may not give you enough space because, by no choice of yours, you're going too slow.
In this case, the solution is to do the exact thing you want to in the first place: pass the slow car. That solves the problem. You're no longer stuck behind the slow car, and the other car can fight it out with them without you in the crossfire. There is an argument for doing this even where it's not legal to pass. I'll leave that argument up to the lawyers.
5. Car Merging Into Our Lane Without Looking
Unlike drivers who share our lane out of malice or a sense of entitlement, these people simply don't look or notice you're there before merging into you. Most drivers are looking for threats, such as big trucks or speed traps. Tiny motorcycles don't register as a threat, which means they can suffer from inattentional blindness. Even though they see you, your presence doesn't register in their minds.
As with tip 1, don't fight over the lane. You're going to lose, so just let them in. As with larger vehicles, stagger your position so that you're not right next to the merging car. Personally, I assume that everyone is going to merge into me, so when they usually do it's not a surprise. Only if they make some clear indication that they see me and are yielding to me do I roll on by.