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you have passed your full motorcycle test and providing you are riding
a motorcycle that meets the minimum power requirement, you will be allowed
to use Motorways. Most riders avoid using Motorways for pleasure
riding as they tend to be less enjoyable and stimulating than country or
A roads. The advantages that the motorcyclist has for making progress
also tend to reduce when riding on a Motorway.
Motorways are designed for transporting
large volumes of traffic at high speeds with the minimum of inconvenience.
Most Motorways consist of 3 or 4 (occasionally 2) lanes of road plus the
hard shoulder. Before detailing the key points about Motorway riding,
it is worth spending a minute considering some of the hazards which donít
often get enough attention. You may think the points here are obvious
(which is good), but you may not necessarily consider the additional risks
that they place on the motorcyclist.
Many Motorway users will:
Use you judgment and experience to consider
how this may affect you as a rider and what you can do to increase your
safety. If it helps, consider the situation - whatís actually happening,
risk - what may occur, action - using the system of motorcycle control
to plan your approach and maintain your safety. For example:
Exceed the speed limit regularly
Drive to close to the vehicle in front
Pass slower vehicles on the inside lane
Fail to make proper checks, indicate or allow
enough room when changing lane
Drive at inappropriate speeds for the weather
Attempt to exit junctions at the last moment
Exercise poor lane discipline
*The later may provoke an aggressive response.
||A motorist is moving towards the outside
of his lane as you pass him.
||He is planning to move into your lane
and hasnít seen you.
||Consider moving away and accelerating
or slowing down to create a gap.
||A motorist is too close behind you.
||If you need to brake hard, you may
||Consider pulling in and letting him pass
or leave a larger gap in front of you to compensate for his lack of braking
Motorways are typically a less
challenging environment when compared to A & B roads. You are
less likely to encounter severe or blind bends and the road surfaces tend
to be better. Many Motorways are illuminated, which will ease night
time riding. Youíll also find emergency phones and monitoring cameras
which help to improve emergency services response times. However,
there are additional considerations which you should plan for.
Motorway riding is monotonous
and typically boring, you have an increased chance of suffering from fatigue.
You may not necessarily fall asleep, but your reactions and attention to
your surroundings may become impaired. If you are carrying a passenger,
they have an even greater risk of fatigue than you.
Before you plan a long Motorway
trip, make sure you are alert and fit enough to complete the journey.
It often helps to vary your speed while riding, but in any case you should
plan regular breaks at service stations, to ensure you stay alert
Talking yourself through your riding and observations, will also help you
stay aware of your surroundings.
||Apart from the fact that Motorway speeds
tend to be higher, which comes with an associated wind chill, many are
exposed to cross-winds which could unsettle your bike. You will also
find that other vehicles (particularly HGVs) may cause buffeting when passing
or being passed.
It is important to ensure you are properly
dressed for the increased exposure. If you have a waterproof over-suit
it may be good to wear it as a precaution. Apart from keeping you
dry, it will be effective at reducing wind chill. You should wear
high vis clothing and ride with your dipped lights on. Many motorcyclists
who donít normally wear a high vis vest or belt, will if they are riding
on a Motorway.
Pay particular attention when
passing large vehicles, aim to give them as wide a berth as possible, to
allow for any vortex, slipstream or buffeting. If you are experiencing
cross winds, reduce your speed to allow you to compensate more easily.
You may be familiar with the POWER
acronym - Petrol, Oil, Water, Electrics, Rubber. From a motorcyclists
point of view, service stations are few and far between and stopping on
the hard shoulder should be avoided unless it is an emergency. You
must ensure your bike can make the journey. Before setting out perform
your standard maintenance check and do it again when you stop for fuel.
& Exiting Motorways
Motorway slip roads are usually
designed to allow traffic to join and leave, with the minimum disruption
to traffic flow. When joining a Motorway you may have a choice of
slip road. If safe, try to pick the lane that gives you the best
view of the road you are joining. Observe the traffic flow immediately
ahead and also in the distance to determine if bunching may occur, check
for any hazard warning or variable speed limit signs as these will give
information as to the conditions of the road ahead. As you accelerate
to match the motorway speed look for your entrance gap and any potential
escape routes incase that gap closes. If you are joining with other
vehicles look for potential conflicts over gaps. In all cases the
traffic on the motorway has priority, but as a motorcyclist you are vulnerable
and should always aim to avoid conflict with other vehicles.
||When exiting always try to ensure you
are in the exit lane before the 300yd marker and stay alert for late exiters
who may be prepared to sacrifice your safety in order to make the exit.
Traffic can also bunch up at exits, so allow plenty of room for maneuver.
As soon as you exit start adjusting your
speed for the road ahead. There maybe a roundabout or traffic junction
shortly after the exit. If the exit has two lane look out for signs
of late lane changers and people who have exited in error. There
immediate reaction may be to correct their mistake by trying to get back
on or changing lane. Looking out for motorcycles may not be a consideration.
Although it is common to find
vehicles in all lanes on British Motorways, you should always aim to ride
in the first (left most/inside lane) unless overtaking. Once you
have completed your overtaking maneuver aim to return to the first lane.
Where possible avoid overtaking a vehicle passing another vehicle as this
gives you fewer options. You should consider each lane change as
a discrete overtaking maneuver and use the system to plan it. Be
particularly aware that it is hard to judge the speed of other vehicles
on a straight road, so allow plenty of room before committing to overtake.
When approaching a joining slip road check
to see if there are joining vehicles approaching. It may be worth
moving to the second lane to give them room to merge providing it is safe
to do so.