By August 22, 2013

Anticipating Lane Incursions

One of the nice things about my new job is I’m back on my motorcycle. It wasn’t feasible to ride downtown and park in all of that nonsense, and working in a different part of the area makes riding possible again.

Even though I leave during the tail end of rush hour there’s plenty of opportunity for “excitement.” One of the highways I take has some construction in addition to the typical congestion at on-ramps and off-ramps.

Anticipating today’s lane incursion wasn’t dangerous or scary because I anticipated it a few seconds before it happened. Here’s the scene, and what I did before, during and after the incident.

Step 1: Observe

I noticed the minivan in the lane to the right of me drift slowly to the right hand side of their lane.

This made me nervous; most people who do this are either:

  • texting / on the phone
  • swatting at a kid in the back (turning the body to hit someone with your right hand means pulling the car to the right with your left hand)
  • they’re old and can’t turn their neck enough to properly check for another vehicle in the lane next to them

Step 2: Orient

None of these are great, and so I occupied the left-most 1/3rd of my lane.

Step 3: Decide

I knew I didn’t want to be anywhere near that minivan if they came across the dotted line. I decided to move even before the threat started in earnest.

Step 4: Act

I preemptively moved even though I had a “right” to occupy the lane and stay at the same speed as other traffic. Motorcycles are not apex predators on the road; we’re prey animals. The smallest car can take out the largest motorcycle, road regulations be dammed.

Step 5: Loop

Then I did the OODA loop all over again: observed what was going on, oriented on everything around me and where I was in relation to them, decided what to do, and then I did it.

I noticed the minivan drift from the right side of their lane over to the left side. I was afraid they were going to come over, so I let off of the throttle and put my thumb on the horn.

Sure thing, they’re sailing into my lane.


No response.

Hit em with the horn again, and they finally recognized I’m there after occupying 1/3rd in my lane. If I was in the center of the lane like the MSF taught me I may have been hit at this point, or forced to make a sharp, unnecessary movement.

Today’s incident wasn’t a big deal, but that’s because I didn’t let it become one. If I hadn’t noticed their erratic behavior perhaps I would have kept my speed and been directly alongside the minivan as opposed to being able to allow it to get into my lane.

Ride safe, and always run that OODA loop.

Posted in: motorcycling

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