Not every motorcyclist is an excellent driver. Some of us are rubbish, but I’d say the majority of us are really good at it. Let’s face it, we motorbike boys and girls are good at most things, but in particular, we’re good at driving. But what makes us so fantastic at it? Is it a God-given gift? Or has riding motorcycles sharpened all the right senses, honed all the right skills and taught us all the tricks that truly make us the kings, queens and non-gender specific monarchs of the road? This is why I think motorcyclists make excellent drivers.
One of the best ways to keep yourself and other road users safe is to maintain good all round observations. It’s important when you’re in a car, but importanter when you’re on a bike. And we are brilliant at it because of the fact that it’s so important when you’re on a bike. It’s one thing concentrating on your hazard perception when you’re in a car, and there’s stuff all over that might do some serious damage to your motor, but you learn to be even sharper when those hazards have the potential to do serious damage to your flesh and bones.
Once you’ve learnt to constantly scan the road ahead, behind and to the side of you for things that might kill you, you’ll never stop doing it. And that’s one of the reasons we motorcyclists make such excellent drivers.
The faster you go, the quicker your reaction times need to be to deal with a changing situation. And as we all know, motorbikes can go really fast. If you’ve spent years going really fast on motorbikes, chances are you’ll have really fast reaction times.
That means whenever another road user does something unexpected, or a set of ladders falls off a window cleaner’s van in front of you, you’ll be better equipped to deal with it safely. That’s whether you’re on a bike or in a car.
Fast reactions mean you’ll also be able to set off really quickly, as soon as the traffic light goes green. That means you’ll get to your destination quicker, be on the road for less time, and therefore reduce the overall volume of traffic on the road. Win, win.
One of the great things about riding a motorcycle compared to driving a car on the road, is the fact that you don’t have to worry quite so much about traffic. If it’s busy, you can just filter your way through the gridlock. And filtering is a great way to perfect a sense of spatial awareness.
Obviously being spatially aware of an 18-inch-wide motorcycle is a lot different to being spatially aware of a six-foot-wide car, but the skills involved are the same. Sort of.
And the better spatial awareness you have when you’re driving, the better. It means you’re less likely to scrape the side of your car down next doors fence post, ram into a concrete bollard when reverse parking at Tesco, or scare a cyclist because you’ve only given him 6-feet of space when you’ve overtaken him. Be a good driver; be spatially aware.
There’s nothing like a bit of courteous driving. Sometimes it’s nice to be kind. And it’s even nicer when people are kind to you, especially when you’re on a motorbike. Because we motorcyclists are a vulnerable bunch.
When you’ve realised how much of a difference a bit of courteous driving can make to the more vulnerable road users, you’ll probably go out of your way to give everyone else on the road the space they need, or perhaps let those pedestrians finish crossing the zebra crossing before you wheelspin past them, hurling abuse.
Whether it’s another car pulling over ever-so-slightly to let you overtake, or a tractor and trailer waiting till you’ve passed before pulling out onto the main road, I’m sure every motorcyclist has been on the receiving end of other motorists’ decency. That’s why I’m convinced the majority of motorcyclists tend to be very thoughtful, courteous and well-mannered whenever they’re on the road, whatever vehicle they’re in. And that’s why I’m convinced motorcyclists make excellent drivers.