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When you execute an action, there can be only one. However you can have many plans. In general, you have the expected plan, and a "Plan B".
Have a Plan B
The “eyes tight shut” approach is favored by ostriches with their heads in the sand
Plan A is what you intend to do. Plan B is what you will do if something unexpected happens (like a car pulling out in front of you). A Plan B is necessary because you can't take things for granted on the road. Plan Bs are always simple, but many riders dont have them. They don’t like to think about bad things that might happen. They feel that is negative, or that thinking about bad things causes them. This "eyes tight shut” approach is favored by ostriches with their heads in the sand. They ignore developing problems. However if you ignore problems when they are small, when they are large they will find you.
Ready riders use the eyes-wide-open approach
Ready riders use the eyes-wide-open approach. It considers all options, even the bad ones. You make a Plan B for the unexcpected. This gives you a choice if that situation arises. If it doesn't, what have you lost? It always pays to have a plan B.
Of course there are also combinations of the above, like swerve then stop, or swerve and horn. You choose what fits the multitide of situations. There is no formula, but some plan is better than no plan.
Swerve then stop
Swerving and stopping both require friction, of which the road has a limited amount, so it is best not to do both at once, or you will skid. Generally, you swerve to avoid, the straighten up and emergency stop. If you swerve to the side of a road into gravel or dirt, it is even more important to straighten before applying the brakes.
The commit point
When you go from plan to execute that is the commit point. Before the commit point you can change your mind, but after the commit point you cannot. Every action has two steps:
When you turn, after the commit point go means go, and there is no “No”
For example in a right turn there is a moment before which you can not make the turn and after which you cannot. This is the commit point. If you stop before the commit point, there is no turn. You got ready to turn but didnt. If you stop after the commit point, you stop in the middle of your turn. If a vehicle suddenly appears, across your turn, you are like a sitting duck stopped in the middle of the road. If it is before the commit point, then brake, and let it go through. If it is after the commit point, then accelerate, and hope it misses you. If you accelerate before the commit point, you will turn into it. If you brake after the commit point, you stop in the turn, and it will hit you. When you turn, after the commit point go means go, and there is no “No”. Beginners,unaware of the commit point, make two types of errors:
The last minute decision
Suppose you are pulling out into busy traffic at night. Before you commit, you look to see the way is clear. After you commit, you accelerate to join the traffic flow. There are two problems. If you don’t look properly and commit too early, an oncoming car could wipe you out. You committed too early. However if you look and double check too much, the on some roads you be sitting there for hours. Now you could have gone, but didn’t, and are committing too late. In general,
In execution, a lot depends on knowing the commit point. If you see a gap in traffic, and decide to enter, as you start moving that is not the commit point. Only when you actually enter the lane must you go on. As you pull out, you may see a car coming much faster than you thought. A novice driver may not stop, even though there is time, because they have mentally committed to pulling out. Or conversely they may already be half out in the lane, and panic brake. They are like a deer standing on the railway line looking at the headlights. Either way, novices tend to crash a lot. Experienced riders don’t commit until the last moment, when the information is most complete. Being uncommitted, they can brake at the last minute. If they are already out, they will accelerate away. Either way, they minimize their accident probability. In the fast changing world of riding, the last moment decision is the best informed one.
Taste then swallow
The situation can be described as “taste then swallow”. People dont just gulp down food - they taste it first. Committing too early is like wolfing down your food without tasting it first. You could choke on a bone! However all taste and no swallow is equally bad, as you starve. These are the riders who cant commit. Moving from plan to execute is like going from “taste” to “swallow”. Finally, It pays to taste first, but when you swallow, do so wholeheartedly. Stopping after the commit is like “half-swallowing”, or choking on something.
Accelerating out of trouble
When I was young, riders of racing bikes would often talk about how power meant you could accelerate out of trouble. However power at the wrong time can also accelerate you into trouble. It is only after the commit point you use acceleration to get out of trouble. Before the commit point, you put on your brakes. When you execute rider actions, be aware of when the commit point is, say at an intersection or a turn. It is often later than you think. It is not when you decide to turn, but when you have to complete turn. The more experienced you are, the later you can still "cancel" an action.
Scanning, planning and executing together form a positive guidance system. A ready rider works from positive guidance: this means you see directly, think clearly and go quickly. If you see the way is clear, then you go, if not, then you dont. Dont assume the way is clear and go, which a lot of people do a lot of the time. Positive guidance works from reality, not imagination, desires or habits. That you expect it to be so, or want it to be so, or have always done it that way before, are not "reasons" for the world. That you are in a hurry does not change the world. Working from what you see on the road, that is positive guidance. Working from your own wishes is negative guidance. In the real word of riding a motorcycle, positive guidance is the best.
Visibility and noticeability
Being noticed is the action equivalent of all-round awareness. It means making sure others see you. Some actions toincrease visibility are:
In surveys of what annoys other drivers most, not indicating is always up there in the top few, because it is considerate to let others know what you are going to do.
As visibility is to all-round awareness, so predictability is to prediction, . Prediction is knowing where others will be, predictability is riding so others know where you will be. Being predictable means that you make no sudden unplanned moves. Planned moves, like overtaking, can be swift if they take into account other cars. Even then, it pays to indicate first so it is expected. When riding, don’t wobble left or right for no reason. One never knows if a car may suddenly overtake and clip you. If you ride predictable lines other cars know what to expect, and will avoid you.
|© Brian Whitworth, 2004, 2005|