Big Picture Riding

Roger Matas

AB-A Rider Education

Over the years I've gone through several seminars on safe driving: Smith Safety Systems, Canada Safety Council, Defensive Driving, etc.

All these courses teach pretty much the same thing and it's something we as motorcycle riders need to remember as we're out on streets and highways. We must always be looking at the Big Picture.

Whether we're on our Goldwings or driving something bigger, we need to not only focus on what's directly in front of us such as a pothole or road debris, but we need to be looking further down the road and around us for hazards and issues.

Is there a person in the driver's seat of that parked car up ahead who may open their door into us? Has the walk sign at the upcoming intersection just turned to "don't walk" which means the green light is now stale and will turn red before we're through the intersection? Is there a traffic camera at that intersection? Does the driver turning left across our path see us? Is there a child or dog about to chase the ball which just rolled out into the street? Is someone approaching the crosswalk?

All these are valid scenarios which could easily occur and just as easily ruin our day. That's why it's important to keep our eyes down the road and not on GPS, phones or other devices. We need to see the Big Picture and interpret the implications.

At the August meeting I related a couple of instances which happened to me just a week previous. I'll recount them here for those who weren't at the meeting and for those who were, you can check out the video clips to see how they happened. There's also a third case.

The first two events happened about 5 minutes apart in Coaldale and Taber Alberta.

In the first, there's a car merging from the right. He's obviously having difficulty with the concept and my decision was to slow down to let him in. Looking at the big picture, I wanted this fellow in front of me, not behind. When he finally understood I was yielding to him, (I was almost stopped) he merged not just into the first lane, but right across to the second, cutting off the yellow Corvette. You can see the approaching Corvette in my mirror. Check out the video here:

Just a few minutes later, in Taber, I'm approaching a GREEN light. But I see the white pickup in the left lane stopped. Not sure what was going on I hit the brakes and saw the fellow walking his bike across the highway against the red. I guess they're unclear on the concept of a red light in Taber. If I hadn't wondered what was going on I would have hit him. If I was driving something big and not able to stop in time he'd be dead. Check out the video here:

As a third example and something you probably see a lot, is a mail truck about to pull out in front of me after only looking to the right. Check out the video here: Again, by watching out for the hazard I was able to safely proceed after giving the driver a suitably nasty look.

I hope these examples will help you keep your head on a swivel and always looking at and thinking about the big picture. Ride safe.