Think of the last time that you were in heavy traffic. Think about everything that surrounded you, cutting you off and crowding you. Think about everything you had to monitor; street signs, closing speeds, traffic lights and the people that are on their cell phones, putting on makeup, changing the radio station, dealing with screaming kids in the back seat or maybe they are from out of town and have managed to get lost.

Riding in traffic can be a nightmare for all types of riders, but more so for rookie riders. Ever wonder why bike riders crash on congested streets? It is mind blowing to think of all the different things that a motorcyclist has to deal with on their commute. Here are 10 tips to watch for if you are a new rider in heavy traffic.


Watch drivers’ mirrors and heads.

Watching a drivers head movement in their mirrors is a great way to anticipate sudden moves by car and truck drivers. Most drivers won’t just lunge into a lane of traffic without first moving their head in the direction they are going.

Trust your mirrors

The mirrors on your bike can be a lifesaver, but they don’t always tell the entire story even if they’re adjusted correctly. In traffic, always glance into your mirror-generated rear view over the appropriate shoulder. Doing this quickly will add an extra measure of rear-view and blind-spot knowledge.

Never get between a vehicle and an offramp.

This sounds a little too simple, but drivers who decide to exit at the last minute kill plenty of motorcyclist each year. It’s a simple rule, never position yourself between a vehicle and an offramp. Passing on the right is not the best idea.

Ride in open zones

Use the maneuverability and your bike’s power to ride in open zones of traffic. In any given cluster of traffic a biker can usually find gaps. Remember riding with the flow of traffic can make you become invisible to other drivers.

Cover your brakes

When you are in heavy traffic, you must react quickly. This means not fumbling around for your brake lever or pedal. To react quickly, always keep a finger or two on your brake lever and your right toe close to the rear brake pedal.

Be noticed

Make sure drivers and pedestrians see you. Ride with your high beam on during the daytime, wear brightly colored gear and most important wear your helmet and jacket.

Practice the scan

Constantly scanning your elements while riding. This is anything from your instruments, mirrors, the road, blind spots and drivers. Don’t just look in front of you or behind you, this is asking for trouble.

Left-turn treachery

When you are approaching an oncoming vehicle that is about to turn left, be ready. Your high beam should be on during the day so the driver can see you, but don’t rely on this to keep you out of an accident. Watch the car’s wheels. If you see movement, be ready to react.

Run interference

When coming to an intersection let the larger vehicles run interference for you. If the vehicle coming toward you from either left or right is going to run the light, it is better that they hit the larger vehicle next to you.

Be ready with the power

When you are in heavy traffic, ride a gear lower than you normally would. If a driver is distracted and do not see you, this allows you to jump forward instantly.

One thing to keep in mind. If you are ever in an accident, get medical care immediately. After that, call Castle Law Office at 816-842-7100 to speak with an attorney. Or, you can email us and schedule your free consultation.

Jason C. Amerine
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President and Owner, Castle Law Office of Kansas City
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