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As cities get more crowded, it is becoming increasingly impossible to drive anywhere. Even if you manage to reach your destination, finding a parking spot for the smallest of cars can be an exercise in futility. Therefore, it is not surprising that an increasing number of people are opting to navigate city traffic on motorcycles. However, riding in the city comes with its own set of perils. Here are 4 riding tips to help you avoid becoming a hood ornament on someone else’s car.

Keep scanning the surroundings

In the Harry Potter series, Mad-Eye Moody is always teaching his students the same mantra, “constant vigilance”. As it happens, that is a useful piece of advice not just for teenage wizards, but also for motorcycle riders navigating city traffic. Always scan your surroundings to know what is going on. The side-mirrors can be your best friend, but don’t become overly reliant on them. In the end, there is no substitute for turning your head around and scoping for possible trouble with your own eyes. When buying a helmet, make sure you get one that allows you to listen to the traffic sounds around you. You can hit the throttle and get out the way of a car behind you only if you can hear its tyres screeching as it skids on the pavement.

Be prepared to brake at all times

When riding around in traffic, you must always be prepared to get on the brakes in a jiffy. Practice riding with one or two fingers over the brake lever at all times even when accelerating. Also, make sure the right toe is on the brake pedal at all times when you are trying to navigate city traffic; some people may find it uncomfortable, but with practice you will get the hang of it. When riders see imminent danger, the instinct to jam on the front brakes takes over. Usually, this is what ends up causing the accident. Get into the habit of using both brakes simultaneously to prevent flipping over.

Make sure you are in the right gear

In order to ride in city traffic, you have to master riding the clutch and feathering the throttle. However, there is another equally crucial component that riders tend to ignore – staying in the right gear. Once traffic slows down, make sure to shift into a lower gear; many riders are too lazy to do this and refuse to shift down until they come to a complete stop. In case you need to accelerate your way out of trouble, being the wrong gear can have drastic consequences. You can react quickly to a dangerous situation only if your bike is also in the right gear.

Look for the open zone

Riding in traffic becomes a lot easier if you can keep an eye out for open zones. Cars and other vehicles usually tend to bunch up, leaving a bit of an open zone in the road. These open zones may be too small for a car, but should be wide enough to accommodate your bike. The more you ride in the open zones, the fewer the chances of getting involved in a collision. Use you motorcycle’s manoeuvrability to weave into the open zones and make sure you ride at varying speeds so that you do not become invisible to traffic around you.

Keep these 4 tips in mind and you will become a much safer rider in city traffic.


Today’s guest post author is Jenny Wadlow, a motorcycle accessories dealer in Western Australia. She’s a fervent blogger and constantly writes on ways to make motorcycle riding an exhilarating and safe experience. You can follow her on twitter@JennyWadlow