Let me take you through one of those bizarre mornings in India (if only they were rare) when traffic is just unbearable. This is what typical explosive-traffic morning patterns look/feel like. You sitting on your two-wheeler that you have recently taken on rent – around you there are innumerable vehicles caught up in traffic (crowd-suffocating you), people trying to cross roads even when the traffic signal is green (oh you are on your way to getting a heart disease now), autos trying to overtake the hulking cars and buses – amongst all this your almost ‘non-existent’ bike trying to wade through the traffic jungle.
A dreadful scene isn’t it? Imagine having this nightmare every single workday. Not a great feeling at all. But these are the cold realities of today’s traffic pattern. You almost start to believe that the crossing lines on roads are invisible.
Here is what I think – everyone has invented the invisibility cloak from Harry Potter and they drape it on themselves before heading out in the mornings. But the irony is they are riding with the two-way invisibility cloak on. They can’t see where they are going and of course others can’t see them as well.
Well, the truth is that riding through choked roads is like playing a video game. The kind of awareness and reaction skills you need is almost the same. To think you should get a bravery award for it. No honestly, it isn’t that intimidating. It is as exciting and fun as a video game, however, this one is the real thing. You know how in a video game you and your vehicle magically recover after a crash – in the real game you go to heaven. Yes, I believe every human deserves to go to heaven –but not if you stole a chocolate from that innocent kid’s bag.
Getting back to reality now – heaven needs to wait. I have a few smart strategies that you should adhere to. It will make your day-to-day city travel easy, smooth and safe.
#PRACTICE, OBSERVATION, DISCIPLINE, RELAX
Every rider, experienced or a newcomer, has to be prepared for trying out various techniques in different congestion environments. Every day is another day in life of a daily city commuter. The fundamentals of city riding for every rider are practice, observation, and discipline.
Practice makes you ‘almost’ faultless – so the more you ride around the city the easier it becomes to maneuver the bike and master the techniques. In a way you also know what to expect on a chaotic street.
- Heightened awareness – you need to be observant and have clarity on what is going on around you. This will give you a prior intimation of what other vehicles or pedestrians might do.
- Discipline – Unless you get on your bike with a death wish, my advice is stick to the rules and disciplines while riding.
The most important – Relax! Do not get caught up in the excitement and chaos around you. Also, don’t forget to learn you work route – believe you me riding becomes way simpler when you are not trying to calculate which lane to take.
#DO NOT KEEP YOUR INVISIBILITY CLOAK ON
Again, neither are you Harry Potter with magical powers (we can only wish) and nor are you in this scenic place like Hogwarts (again, keep wishing). We live in a city jungle where you need to be visible and alert. You have to be seen and heard. One thing to take care of is not riding adjacent to cars. Always try riding in the front line of vision of the vehicles and drivers around/behind you. Wearing bright clothes instead of darker ones can make you ‘scientifically’ visible.
# SAVE THE ‘NONCHALANT’ MODE FOR OPEN/EMPTY ROADS
As a city rider, one core quality you need to embrace is constant vigilance. Not only on what is in front of you but lets say 180 degrees. Your head needs to be rotating every few minutes to scan everything – from the auto desperately trying to overtake so that he doesn’t miss the green signal to a pedestrian with kids crossing the road. Always remember – riding in the city and riding away on empty roads are two very different games. Not that on empty roads you can ride blindly – vehicles have a way of creeping up on us. Awareness is key for all kinds of riders.
# KEEP CRACKING THE ESCAPE ROUTE STRATEGY
Every biker needs to have an escape strategy and it needs to be updated minute by minute. Accidents don’t take a second to happen – before you know it you find yourself lunged away in some corner. That’s why it’s important for bikers to have the escape lanes and routes planned every minute to avoid any sudden impacts.
# BE AWARE OF THE APPALLING ROAD CONDITIONS
The road conditions in India are one of the major concerns for a daily traveler. It is even more of a problem for a bike rider as the bikes have lesser contact with the pavements. It becomes very easy for the motorcycle to slip because of stones, pebbles etc. Riders need to be aware of the potholes, cracks, bumps and other unsafe conditions. They need to keep a check and slow down whenever it comes in their way to avoid major jerks and crashes.
# DISTANCE YOURSELF
This thumb rule applies to all vehicles but is crucial for a bike rider. In case of accidents or any kind of a clash with cars/buses a bike will always lose. So, always keep a distance from the drivers in front of you. This will enable you to avoid any sudden collisions and give you enough space to make your next or immediate move.
# THE TRICKY LEFT TURN
Taking left turns can be quite dangerous for a bike rider. It cannot be done without thinking and vigilance. The discipline to follow is – keep the high beam on and use the horn a few times to let others know that you are taking a left turn. No matter how visible you think you are, amongst the sea of vehicles in front and back you are kind of non-existent.
So this is it. Make sure you are alert, be aware of the impending hazards, take your bike out regularly to gain ‘greater’ riding skills and be in total awareness of what is going on around you. Once you have mastered these, upgrade your two-wheelers on rent. Get in touch with Ontrack, a monthly bike rental company. We will assist you to rent a bike that can take your riding experience to the next level.