An Ounce of Prevention

Given the extra weeks staying in place, plus $1200 from US government, I decided to ease a worry and spend some money and time on a bit of safety equipment.

The number one cause of motorcycle accidents is the SMIDSY: “Sorry, Mate, I Didn’t See You”. It’s a British acronym typically referring to a vehicle pulling out in front of a bike and the driver afterwards claiming they never saw the motorcycle coming.

According to studies, people in that situation actually do see the two-wheeled vehicle, but immediately forget it—their brain does not register it as a danger (or whatever). As a countermeasure, some advise riders to weave as they approach a potential SMIDSY, as in the above video, to firmly catch their attention.

That’s probably doable on the open highway or country road, but I think that on mountain curves or busy city streets it would be difficult.

Another common cause of cycle accidents is rear-ending at a stop when the driver fails to notice that there’s a bike between himself and the next car ahead. Also, sometimes they can disastrously overtake a motorbike due to not noticing its braking—especially when it’s engine-braking via downshift (no brake light).

A passive preventive for such situations is conspicuity, both in coloration and lighting. It’s been found that white helmets are noticed. I suspect it’s at least as much because moto cops wear them as it is for visibility—drivers’ brains wake up and go on alert if there’s danger of getting a ticket. Hi-Vis colors are good, too. The motorcycle color itself isn’t very visible from front or back, and rider clothing often can’t be seen from the front, particularly if there’s a tall windscreen.

I already had a white full-face helmet and mostly-white riding jacket. All my strap-on bags are bright yellow.

Supplementary lighting is an obvious and oft-used passive safety measure. I went with Skene Lights after some research. I like the idea of peripheral vision flickering in the lights as a way of getting attention. I got basic yellow Photon Blasters in the front. For rear lights I went with the P3 decelerometer version which activates the brake lighting when engine-braking.  Sure, there’s no proof of effectiveness—alas, it’s impossible to ever know about accidents that never happened, that were nipped in the bud through conspicuity—but if nothing else they give me some peace of mind.

Expensive? Heck yeah. Worth the cost? I’ll never know.

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