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Old 21st July 2022, 18:04   #1
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Default How driving a car, made me a better motorcyclist as well

Hello All,

Sorry, it took so long to publish.

My love for cars started long back around the 90s and when my uncle got Hyundai Santro in 1998, it increased manifold.

We did many trips to places like Coorg, Bandipur, Mangalore etc., on the humble Santro and never faced space or safety issues. GNCAP was a alien concept back then. I remember an incident, while we are returning from Coorg at night, horn stopped working and we had to come all the way till Bangalore only by communicating with other drivers through changing high beam/low beam.

Fast forward to 2010s, I did lot of bike riding, after I joined an IT company, like many of us and did lot of bike riding at Hyderabad and Bangalore.
As a biker, we only used to see a gap on road, not concerned about blindspots etc.,

I had met with an accident once, where I am going on my bike at around 60kmph as usual and there's lot of mud due to heavy rain on a curve, and bike skidded and I fell down, hit the road hard and dragged for few meters and came to a stop. From the ground level, I could see a van going next to me.

The scratches on my helmet tell the story even now.

How driving a car, made me a better motorcyclist as well-img_20220731_080117_hdr.jpg

Lesson 1 : Wear a Good quality helmet. It will take all the scars to protect you.

Helmet protected me and had an ankle sprain for few weeks as the bike fell on my foot.

Now, coming to 2020s, I started driving my own car and I started realizing all the mistakes bike riders make, when we switch the point of view from biker to car driver.

The same traffic scene may appear differently to a car driver or a bike rider or a bus driver on the road, as each of them has a different vantage point and vehicular capability. Example, a bike can squeeze through a gap, but not a bus.

As a biker, a quick maneuver can give instant thrill, but what is the cost of the risk ? This is the question, every biker must think before venturing on roads.

Same applies to car drivers, as a driver, you may feel an instant adrenaline rush, but there can be a child sitting on the back seat, who may be thinking, how to play with their friends, once they get out of the car.

Never disappoint them, for a few minutes of pleasure. Safety of all passengers is the responsibility of the driver.

I like the dialogue from movie "Sully" where Tom Hanks says " Engineers are not pilots " .

This is the true essence of DevOps which is a buzzword in IT. Development Team keeps something in mind, while writing the code, only Operations Team knows, how the code is actually working in real world scenario and there's a conflict between DEV and OPS due to this. DevOps brings both worlds together, where DEV understands how it is run and where it can go wrong.

In the movie "Sully", only when they introduce a time factor of human thinking delay, the simulations of engineers will be accurate.

Similarly, bikers can understand problems of larger vehicles, only when they drive a car/bus/truck. Until then, bikers must follow basic ground rules to ensure roads are safe for all.

Cars and Bikes must co-exist on our roads as its not viable for everyone to buy cars / they may not need cars, and it also shows that, the public transport infrastructure is bad.

There will be situations on roads, where cars and bikes must share space and only when the bikers think, from the shoes of the truck driver of car driver, they can understand, whether a maneuver is safe or not.

So, let me put some example scenarios, where a car and a bike confront with each other and a potential conflict scenario can arise.

1. Lane Change : For a car driver, the space adjacent to the car which is not visible in the ORVM and is a blind spot. So, if I am a car driver, I have to do a shoulder check to see if anyone is the blindspot, before changing lanes.

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Not every car driver does a shoulder check, so to be safe, avoid driving near blindspots for longer duration.

Same applies while going around buses or other heavy vehicles as well.

Tip : As a biker, I started avoiding going too close to car blindspot areas and avoid going parallel to cars to use it as a shield.

Example, look at this biker driving in the blindspot of a truck, which is dangerous.

Another example,

2. Cutting Lanes : While driving car, we need to keep in mind of braking distance to avoid hitting vehicles in front. The biggest threat to car drivers is bikers suddenly cutting lanes and causing collisions.

Tip : As a biker, I started understanding braking distances of car based on the speed of the car, and completely stopped cutting lanes right in front of cars. Bikers need to give enough space ahead, for the car or bus to slowdown and cut lanes only after giving proper indicator.

3. Overtaking : Sometimes, when I turn on indicator, bikers speed up and overtake me from the same side, from which I'm turning. As a biker now, I started observe the indicators, wheel direction before overtaking vehicles. Avoid overtaking from the the same direction to which the vehicle is turning.

Tip : Example, look at this biker overtaking a bus from the right, which is moving right.

Another, why did the biker speed up ? He might have thought, the lady can slowdown the traffic and he wanted to escape. But see the result.

4. Turning : As a car driver, as long as I'm going straight, there's no problem with any vehicle. Assume, I'm trying to take a U turn. I will turn on indicator. This is when the bikers start overtaking me from the same side to which I'm turning, assuming I will take some of their space on the road.

This causes lot of discomfort and can cause potential accidents, if the car driver doesn't do shoulder check. Every vehicle has a different turning radius and bikers must know that.

Tip : If a car/bus/any vehicle is turning, I'm waiting if I'm on a bike and bikers must wait for it to complete the turn or drive from the other side.

Example :

5. Intersections or Junctions : Intersections are the place where there will be lot of cross traffic and potential for T-bone accidents.

Intersections are 2 types :

a. Controlled Intersections : These are controlled by traffic lights or traffic police. As a car driver, once I got a green signal, I must watch out for occasional signal jumpers coming across.

Bikers must avoid jumping signals.

Example ,

b. Uncontrolled Intersections : This is where it turns more tricky, as each driver/rider must take decisions in sync with others.

A little game theory and Nash equilibrium will help, where all of us must get a favorable outcome considering each other's responses.

Tip : Here, bikers are the most vulnerable road users. So, they must Yield and give way.

Another example,

Few days back, when I stopped at a Y junction to give way to a car, he was looking at me strangely as if I'm an alien.

6. Rear Ending Cars : Sometimes when I'm driving a car, I used to notice some bikers using me as a sweeper car, where I will create way for them and they can drive peacefully behind me.

As a car driver, this puts additional responsibility on my shoulder to ensure, I consider their stopping distance also to avoid them rear ending me, If I had to brake to avoid a frontal collision.

Tip : As a biker, I stopped following cars too closely considering their braking distance. Bikers must ensure, they don't follow vehicles too close as they can rear end easily.

Bike riding is fun, provided above mentioned safety precautions are taken. Always wear a good quality helmet and ensure extra protection gear like chest guard etc, in case if driving in risky conditions.

Follow safe driving practices.

Last edited by chaitanyakrish : 31st July 2022 at 13:59.
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Old 31st July 2022, 18:31   #2
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Default re: How driving a car, made me a better motorcyclist as well

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 1st August 2022, 09:11   #3
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Default re: How driving a car, made me a better motorcyclist as well

I started riding bikes before I started driving but when I'd be sat on the passenger seat with my dad in our car, he'd often point out to me how two wheelers often aren't mindful of a four wheeler's blind spots and move around it as if it's a living organism which can sense in all 4 directions. Similarly, he'd point out various instances throughout our drive of what all the 2 wheelers were doing wrong for their own safety, never checking the rear view mirror for an oncoming car before overtaking and so on.

This became the foundation of my understanding of traffic and roads even before I started riding bikes.

Many times I see two wheelers, even Youtubers with their GoPros, overtaking two vehicles simuletaneously from the gap within lanes, as far as I'm concerned this is a death trap. And if you're driving one of those four wheelers, you can't help but curse at such bikers who are putting everyone in danger. Helps you understand things a lot better when you go out bike riding yourself.
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Old 1st August 2022, 09:14   #4
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Default re: How driving a car, made me a better motorcyclist as well

Biking made me a better driver.

One crucial thing that I've learnt is this - sometimes it's better for all if one learns to let go, take things easy and be the bigger person on the road, 5-10 seconds of your time could mean the difference between high and low B.P, and even life and death in some cases.

Remember, better reach late than never!
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Old 1st August 2022, 11:16   #5
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Default re: How driving a car, made me a better motorcyclist as well

Yes, I learnt car driving on our family Scorpio and drove for around 3000 km before I hopped onto my first 2 wheeler, a 2015 Dio, and put 30k km on it, V15 for 20k km and now my Himalayan. I can say safely that experience made me a far better 2 wheeler rider than my college friends. No cheap thrills of cutting in and out of lanes, sudden overtakes etc. No falls at all in my nearly 80000 km journey of 2 wheeler riding.

The only downside is, it makes you a little less patient, in todays mad traffic where all 2 wheelers ride as if they wish. They should stop registering 2 wheelers for a while to calm down the madness. I gave up car driving last year due to a combination of this and severe myopia that makes it difficult to distinguish between a pothole and a shadow, even in daylight. I only drive when i am asked to or when my brothers are tired on long journeys.

I blame this purely on the incompetent and corrupt BBMP that made an enthusiast like me give up my passion, and giving namma Bengaluru a bad name. The lack of street lights at night and indiscriminate high beam usage especially on the Harohalli - Kaggalipura stretch means no car driving for me at all. I do that stretch only with my Himalayan and its powerful aux lights.
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Old 1st August 2022, 13:43   #6
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Default re: How driving a car, made me a better motorcyclist as well

This is the case with me as well. One thing I've noticed with two wheel riders is that they just don't check the rear view mirror and don't give way for cars and drive really slow like 40km/hr. Even I used to do that before I start to drive car regularly. Now I make sure to give away and constantly check the rear view mirror.
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Old 1st August 2022, 13:49   #7
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Default re: How driving a car, made me a better motorcyclist as well

This is good. I am wondering what the Delhi car drivers should drive to be better car drivers? Bus ? Truck?
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Old 1st August 2022, 14:15   #8
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Default Re: How driving a car, made me a better motorcyclist as well

Driving habits here is north India, specially around Delhi are worst. The bikers think they own the road, they drive in middle of the road. Car drivers think they own the road by driving zig zag and bus driver are a step ahead. The bike riders are annoying lot if you are driving a car and if you are driving a bike, the car drivers annoy you.

But actually, when you drive both, car and bike, you tend to drive a little more carefully as you know what you expect from a bike and a car drive.
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Old 1st August 2022, 15:30   #9
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Default Re: How driving a car, made me a better motorcyclist as well

Thanks everyone for sharing your views and keeping the thread productive.

Only when we see the situations from the perspective of other heavier vehicles on roads, bikers can minimize accidents on roads.

It's like a food chain we studied in school, Vulnerability increases as the size of the vehicle drops and hence need to be more careful.

How driving a car, made me a better motorcyclist as well-qaag8k320tosjx8rxx1l.jpg

This is from my dashcam 2 days ago. I spotted the biker and as a truck is also behind him, I allowed him to pass safely. What if, there is a bus in place of me ? He might not be visible to the bus driver.

This is from a random source.

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Old 1st August 2022, 17:05   #10
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Default Re: How driving a car, made me a better motorcyclist as well

Very good article. This should be mass printed and distributed to every road user in traffic junctions and neighbourhoods
I was thinking of this the other day as well. I was running some errands on my wife's two wheeler and I got stuck on one part of the road. I used to be mad at two wheelers who ride in the opposite direction. But that day, sitting in a spot getting stuck between cars, I felt a very strong urge to follow others and use the wrong side or go up on the footpath. Now I understand two wheeler riders (but they still drive me mad).
In one of my drives to office, my colleague who are in the passenger seat quietly commented when we reached, "You have a big responsibility. All the two wheeler riders completely depend on your ability to brake in time or avoid them" - I found it so true and remember it very well.
Well written piece! Thank you.

Last edited by gtonsing : 1st August 2022 at 17:07. Reason: correcting typos
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Old 1st August 2022, 18:22   #11
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Default Re: How driving a car, made me a better motorcyclist as well

That's a good thought Chaitanya. Blinds spots are an hazard that drivers must contend with every time they get to drive . These blind spots not only pose a threat to drivers, their passengers and other motorists, but they also can cause serious or fatal injuries to motorcyclists and pedestrians. No driver can never be cent percent sure that another driver or rider sees you. That other driver’s poor vision, could make your vehicle invisible. That apart overtaking in the curves and gunning into the blind corner is another major cause of concern.
Applying this blind spot theory while riding two wheelers is a must and saves the rider from most of the accidents. You have summed it up very well mate.
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Old 1st August 2022, 18:53   #12
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Default Re: How driving a car, made me a better motorcyclist as well

While i relate to OP's experience, what i also have seen is that this isn't true for many in India.

When Auto wallas get a cab or when 2 wheeler riders graduate to a car, they follow similar driving mannerisms that they used to when riding their 2/3 wheeler. For e.g. switching lanes without indicators or without even checking if there is anyone present in their close vicinity, trying to maneuver their vehicles even in slightest possible spaces without giving an iota of consideration and the list can go on.

My bike riding skills and car driving skills for that matter improved a lot once i started riding my Ninja. I had to completely rewire myself, You need to be extra cautious while riding a performance bike as slight mistake can lead to unfavorable results , irrespective of who made that mistake.

I saw a YouTube video where in an American called Indian traffic as "controlled chaos"
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Old 1st August 2022, 19:02   #13
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Default Re: How driving a car, made me a better motorcyclist as well

@chaitanyakrish - very nice writeup. Actually I read an article which is other way around . How riding a motorcycle make a better car driver from a country where almost all know driving a car and a small minority knows/access to motorcycles.
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Old 1st August 2022, 20:09   #14
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Default Re: How driving a car, made me a better motorcyclist as well

Good topic and info

My two and four wheel experiences started a few months apart so I didn't have to unlearn anything since I would be mentally cursing both drivers and riders in a single day.
I agree that driving has made me a good rider and vice versa.

When driving I am extra careful in taking left turns as I expect some "heroes(the character not the bike)" who think they can make it before the loser behind the wheel turns or the ones who think they can defy physics by honking or some are just lost in their dreams/on a call/too busy to be paying attention to their surroundings or that box of metal in the front with a stupidly blinking amber light.

When riding I am expecting someone on a call, too important to be bothered by what's around their palace on wheels, weaving in and out and finally making that turn they were looking for, even if that involves reversing. Not to forget that indicators are for losers.
Or the obedient driver who darts across the road at the mere pointing of a finger by the passenger so that they don't have to walk even an inch to their destination.
So please understand when you see me gazing into your car, I am not checking anyone out, just keeping myself from becoming collateral damage

IMO we're behaving similarily regardless of the number of wheels it's just that two wheels give us the capability to be more irritating while four wheelers give us the capability to be more obstinate.

Last edited by shancz : 1st August 2022 at 20:10. Reason: typos
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Old 5th August 2022, 08:16   #15
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Default Re: How driving a car, made me a better motorcyclist as well

When people say bikes are dangerous, it is not a 100% correct statement. You are always in control of the motorcycle. you make all the choices. you twist the throttle, you speed up, you see the gap, you make the call to go into the gap. you know the weather. you can see the road condition.

The only situation where a motorcycle can be blamed is

- driving on highways and some vehicle jumps the curb.
- some random animal comes into the middle of the road.
- some idiot 4 wheeler driver makes a truly gigantic blunder.
- inside the city, speeds are not high enough to be entirely called fault of other vehicle. it is entirely upto motorcyclists to be more responsible towards themselves. people are way too careless in riding bikes. Motorcycles don't have to kowtow to cars but they don't give them their dignity either. too much of "swarming" behaviour occurs and car drivers develop an animosity because the motorcycle cutting in front when there is already a very small gap is almost like someone walking from one side to another while stepping over your thighs.

The most common bike accident, the skid and fall is a 80% preventable incident. all one has to do is stick to a safe speed. that is a habit not at all ingrained in most riders minds.

Safe motorcycling involves a lot of behind the scenes mental computation, use of best practices and wearing adequate gear is a backup in case the mental computation and best practices fail. motorcycle riding is the epitome of " 1 gram of prevention more than 1 ton of cure".
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