Cracks in the clockwork, commuting through San Francisco

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I once met a rider who hung up his leathers for good, not for the usual reasons. He
didn’t stop for newly-born kids, wasn’t guilted by a significant other, didn’t step
away after a bad crash. But, he told me, he lost his passion when he lost his San
Francisco commute. Retired at a young age, he missed the daily rush of battling
traffic to get to work. Everything else was poor substitute.

I didn’t get it. At the time my commute consisted entirely of bland freeway lanes, no
battling required. I was happy to not challenge Death daily. But two years ago, an
office relocation thrust me into a proper San Francisco commute. Been battling
ever since. I wouldn’t give it up.

“Commute” is a bad word for most, one of the worst. It’s hours wasted staring at the
ass of the vehicle ahead. It’s sharing uncomfortable space with strangers and not
being able to do a damn thing about it. Commuting is helplessness five days a
week.

Not for me. Most days — this is no exaggeration — my commute is the highlight of my
waking hours.

On a motorcycle, commuting is not a helpless act. I am not bound to follow the lead
of the slowest common denominator. I have no awkward company but myself.

A line of dawdling cars clogging the freeway becomes a moving puzzle to overtake.

Watch the gaps between them, eyes on converging lanes, and a well-timed slip
between the slothful lot yields an addicting drip of joy.

As all lanes bunch up into downtown San Francisco, I batten down the hatches, focus my mental capacity on deftly filtering through a sea of autonomous steel boxes. I anticipate their moves, study the body language of shadowy figures through rear windows, constantly adjust my trajectory and pick my moments for frictionless spatial intersection.

In The City, rules dissolve in a swirling mess of urgent life. Pedestrians dart between gridlocked cars, bicyclists blindly cut through reds, drivers struggle to find a place for their oversized transport. In the middle of everything, little me acting a selfish ass on two wheels, slipping clutch and throwing revs to maintain forward momentum and find the cracks in the clockwork where speed and safety fit.

If it goes wrong, I lose big. I’m on the ground, I’m in the hospital, I’m possibly dead. If
it goes right, I get to work on time. I sit behind a computer, and grin to myself. If it
goes right, I can’t wait for the evening battle home.

Mark is an Executive Editor at IGN and writes about adventuring by Ninja 250 on his blog, The Sunday Best.

  • Andrew

    I love this article. “I am not bound to follow the lead of the slowest common denominator.” Beautiful.

    I do want to point out one bit though. Those bicyclists are running pretty much the same gambit as you are, rarely doing it blindly unless they’re doing it poorly. When you’re riding and notice one dicing up a tight spot, give them a bit more credit as their goals, skills, and fragility are shockingly similar to yours.

    • Roman

      When I’m commuting by pedal bike, I feel far more exposed and vulnerable than on my motorcycle. Especially here in Philly where bike lanes are either non-existent or a pathetic strip of paint that everyone simply ignores. On a motorcycle at least you’re wearing gear and you’re faster than everyone else.

      Did get to lane split in San Fran this year though, it was a blast. Thanks for once again reminding us east coast folks about not being able to legally lane split.

      • justink

        I totally agree!

    • IAimToMisbehave

      Allow me to second Andrew’s statement . When on a bicycle the fact is we’re more exposed as well as needing to have a hell of a lot more cojones than anyone on a Motorcycle will ever have or realize . So Back the Hell off and give the guy on the bicycle a break ….. Just like you wish every automobile would do for you !

      May I also add that anyone who thinks any commute in or on any type of private vehicle is the highlight of their riding/driving experience has more than psychopathic tendencies as well as not having clue one as to what the Joy of Driving / Riding really means .

      Adrenaline Junkies may be the kinder description of your particular psychosis . But Psychopath says it best . Pathetic IMO

      • SamuraiMark

        “May I also add that anyone who thinks any commute in or on any type of private vehicle is the highlight of their riding/driving experience…”

        He didn’t say that. He said:

        “Most days — this is no exaggeration — my commute is the highlight of my
        waking hours.”

        Not the same at all.

        You are not the guy’s shrink, and you are not the arbiter of the meaning of the joy of riding. Psychopath? Really?

      • Todd

        Don’t you think it is a bit hypocritical to condemn the author for their commute immediately after thumping your chest about the bravado of pedal pushers?

      • Pete

        Random capitalization? Unnecessary assholish e-bravado? Thom is it you?????

        • Miles Prower [690 Duke, MTS 1200]

          …and spaces before punctuation? I miss having Thom around!

          • MotoRandom

            Oh man, I think you guys might be right. We can only hope!

      • justink

        wtf. I commute by car, motorcycle, and bicycle. Really, the point is to get to work, and to go home. If one one of those means is more enjoyable to you, or faster, more power to you. This holier than thou attitude is ridiculous.

  • http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=305107 stickfigure

    This is retarded. You glamorize playing ‘frogger’ in real life.

    I dodged traffic in Mexico City for months. I’ve been run off the road by homicidal bus drivers in Guatemala. I don’t balk at handing my (only) helmet to a cutie for a midnight run up to La Bufa in Zacatecas.

    But I don’t commute in SF.

    I don’t mind rolling dice, but the payoff has to be better than “I get to work intact”. Especially when you roll five days a week.

    • Glenngineer

      +1

    • SamuraiMark

      He’s using evocative prose to describe his daily commute. You’re taking it too seriously. IMO.

    • Pete

      And, to some people taking a motorcycle south of the border is a risk not worth the payoff, you’re rolling those dice SEVEN days a week. Maybe you should try being less judgmental, I’d think that having traveled would have opened you up a bit to perspectives other than your own.

      • http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=305107 stickfigure

        When I tell people about my great motorcycle adventures, I tell them about the beautiful places, wonderful people, spectacular food, fantastic roads (and wonderfully awful roads), epic riding, etc… not “It was so great because I nearly got killed at every turn! What a rush!”

        I don’t really object to city bike commuting, even though I no longer consider it worth the risk. I object to glossing over – or in this case *glamorizing* – the danger.

        I also suspect that this article resonates with the same people who think the weekend warriors who take their Harleys out helmetless are idiots. If that’s you – then yes, you are a hypocrite.

        • Pete

          I on the other hand think this article resonates with people who relish a challenge (and can find it in a mundane necessity of modern life), and who have developed the skills needed to overcome that challenge despite the potentially serious consequences of failure.

          Sorry if you’re not one of those people. Take the BART, then. But you’d be better served by reserving your harsh “retarded” judgment.

          • http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=305107 stickfigure

            One of the great things about my particular life experience is that I get to chuckle when internet trolls try to “challenge my manhood”.

    • JTB

      We all ride and know its rolling the dice every time. Whether its to get laid, get some booze or get to work. If you are on the bike you roll the dice to certain extent in many cases your choices control those dice. Lane splitting feels far safer than sitting around waiting for the dice to roll over me.

    • http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=305107 stickfigure

      I should add a comment here for all the people who don’t live in San Francisco and can’t fully appreciate this:

      SF is a tiny thumb of land about 7mi x 7mi, densely populated with cars, traffic lights, stop signs, and cops. There are no open roads of any length like you can find in the outskirts of LA. You will rarely get out of second gear and most of your in-city “commute” will be stop-and-go weaving between cars at low speed.

      It’s novel for a month.

      That 1000cc firebreathing monster you just dropped $15k on? Utter waste. The author’s Ninjette is much better suited; really, if you want to get around SF, buy a Madass 125 or a small dualsport.

      This is a crappy city to ride a bike in. After a few years you start to dream of moving to Marin or Santa Cruz where the twisty roads are. Unless, basically, you are more excited by playing frogger than wearing off your chicken strips.

      • Pete

        Yeah, because no other city could possibly match the congestion of SF (rolleyes). BTW equiv distance to the “outskirts of LA” would put you where, in Sonoma or beyond? I think I remember a few open roads up there.

        Thanks for schooling us on SF, buddy.

        • noah

          +1 – having grown up in the bay, lived in NYC and LA now for 5 years each, commuted via car, push bike and motorcycle in all, I’d gladly take that 15min zip over to skyline or marin than 45 of sweaty LA superslab or even congested PCH to get to any decent canyon situation.. 5 miles in almost any direction and you’re gone. oh and hella parking that’s otherwise nonexistent. not such a bad deal. (love cycling SF too for the record)

          thanks for the piece, dig these.

          • http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=305107 stickfigure

            I currently live (and ride) in SF, but grew up in LA. Unless you live next to a freeway onramp, your memories are optimistic – from my apartment it’s 20 mins just to the airport, let alone the 92 junction where Skyline gets interesting. Marin? 30-40 mins to the fun, especially on weekends when the 1 becomes a slow parade of surfers and oyster fetishists.

            At least in LA it’s pretty easy to get out of civilization. In 1.5 hours you can be tearing up the desert in Mojave. Or headed east into no-man’s land. In San Francisco, 1.5 hours puts you in Sacramento. I’m not quite being fair (there are a handful of great rides nearby) but every direction you go except north puts you in another major metro zone – and guess which way everyone goes on weekends? We’re kinda walled in.

            But really this conversation is about commuting. If you want to live somewhere with epic riding, move to Eureka.

        • ike6116

          For someone who is calling for more open mindedness and less judgement you certainly seem quite closed to this guys’ opinion and are judging him every chance you get.

          • Pete

            Really Ike? Feel free to quote where I judged him. Good luck with that.

            • ike6116

              Really, Pete (rollseyes). If you can’t read the cunty tone in your response then I don’t know what to tell you, buddy, other than good luck with that.

              • Pete

                I’m misbehaving so Wes removed my comment.

                • Pete

                  But when someone else says I have a cunty tone it’s okay! Anyway Wes knows I was only defending myself so he still loves me. And I him.

    • http://www.ninja250blog.com R.Sallee (Ninja 250)

      The intent of this piece is not to glamorize dangerous activity. I don’t go out of my way to be dangerous when I ride to work–the act just happens to be pretty insane, and the alternative is not appealing. Rather, the intent is to convey how much I love it. I fucking love riding to work every day.

      • http://www.youtube.com/user/Adeysworld adeysworld

        Summed up nicely. With you 100%

      • JTB

        R.Sallee, Its not anymore dangerous than sitting in traffic most studies have born this out. Don’t expect all to get it they wont. I for one really enjoyed it and could identify with you as I did the Clayton to SF run on a 75 900ss. It was the bet way to unwind after the day and a good way to wake up on the way in. Just the diff in the temps at the Caldecott during summer was always amazing to me and still to this day when ever I ride there its the feeling of going home long ago.

      • Cro

        I also commute daily and you nailed it. Riding in to work is the 2nd best part of my day, followed only by my ride home.
        Proper job. Well done.

      • Mr.Paynter

        +1 I don’t even have a licence for a car at 28, it’s all bike all the time and it makes me very happy riding in to work every day and passing everyone I work with.

        My 15 minutes is there 45 and that alone makes me feel good, purely because I am wasting less of my life!

  • Pete

    Amen, Mark! I feel the EXACT same way but rarely express it because I find that even my riding buddies just don’t get it and dread commuting on a bike. “Moving puzzle” is exactly right. There’s something special about the pure concentration required to thrive in traffic…people like stickfigure above will probably never understand. Their loss!

  • R__M

    Completely agree with this. I get an odd satisfaction from lane splitting around LA. More than just the feeling of passing everyone trapped in their cars. It reminds me of riding trails back east, except here the “trees” are cars and mirrors. I’ve only been able to commute a few days a week lately, but when I do it’s the best part of the day.

  • Tyler

    No lane splitting/filtering in Canada. Commuting on a bike is pretty much the same as a car, except you’re on a bike (which does make it much better).

  • Glenngineer

    Can’t lane split where I live, but I do anyway – sometimes, 100 feet of split lanes can save 15-20 minutes in Greater Boston.

    • Holden and Annette

      And guess what — by getting out of their way when you lane-split, you’re allowing the people behind you to get to their destination a little quicker. You’re doing them a favor.

      • Glenngineer

        I know, and I think the drivers behind me feel that and appreciate getting inch closer to the next bumper by one Strom length.

        The guys in front of me, though, whom I’m passing… They just see someone who is getting to cheat, and get pissed. I’ve never had anyone open a door or move to block a lane, but I see a lot of head shaking and angry faces.

        • filly-fuzz

          we can’t spend our lives pandering to the ignorance of others (car drivers) Split away!

        • CCarey

          Yea that head shaking and agry faces pretty much is a given here in Boston, its not our fault everyone drives as if they have absolutely no place to be.

  • http://cynic13th.livejournal.com/ cynic

    Awesome.
    I’m not sure I would trade my ride down 280 to work (and most definitely not my ride home on Skyline) for this, but I do enjoy the crazy of Page Mill Rd. as I slice through all those cars.

  • Holden and Annette

    “the freeway becomes a moving puzzle to overtake.”

    Yep. Riding through traffic on a motorcycle is an intellectual exercise, while crawling behind traffic in a car is a negative-emotion experience. When you arrive at work on a moto, your brain is warmed up. When you arrive at work in a car, your butt cheeks are numb. Big difference.

    • http://www.ninja250blog.com R.Sallee (Ninja 250)

      Love the way you put it: “Riding through traffic on a motorcycle is an intellectual exercise, while crawling behind traffic in a car is a negative-emotion experience.”

  • Triman023

    I dont split lanes unless I absolutely have to, engine overheating, need to get off the freeway etc. You may now call me a chicken, wanker, geezer or whatever you have in your vocabulary. Today I be visiting my friend Bill in the rehab wing of the hospital. He has both legs and arms broken in multiple places, shattered wrist, broken collarbone,thumb and knees damaged. About four weeks ago he was on his way to my house to help me work on my Triumph, he wore an old leather jacket with no armor, jeans, tennis shoes and a jet style open face helmet. He was riding his restored 72 Honda on suburban streets. I got a call from his cell when he was late, from a guy in the hospital. I was the last call on his phone.
    We don’t really know what happened, the drivers version doesn’t add up, it boils down to an SUV going 40 and a bike going 40 hitting head on.
    He is awake now and can recognize me and have a 3 minute conversation, then he drifts off into a James Joycian monologue that is poetic but non sensical. The docs say his brain will either recover completely or he will be stuck this way forever. I hope he comes back.
    My riding is different now, I always wear all the gear even if I am going 35mph. I also avoid routs that are too dangerous, (the Pasadena freeway)
    and look out for red light runners. I have been riding for 32 years and I am a lot more apprehensive now.

    I read a statistic that said 4 percent of cars try to hit riders when they lane spilt, that is 4 out of every 100 cars. Seems like a gamble to me.

    • Holden and Annette

      You’re neither a chicken, a wanker or a geezer.

      • Triman023

        Thanks, but I am getting to the geezer category (62) and I am too old to recover from multiple broken bones without a huge disruption in my life. For me riding is a privilege, I need to use care to be able to keep riding as long as I can.

    • Kevin

      I’ve gone from riding my bike whenever I could to sticking to day trips and tours, purely recreational. I work from home now but when I did commute I still mostly used my car. It’s not that I’m intimidated by lane splitting; I’ve done quite a bit of it and still do. I just find commuting by bike to be a combination of all of the fun of traffic with all the safety of a motorcycle. It’s not peanut butter and chocolate, not for me anyway.

    • Steven

      why did a head-on collision convince you to never lane split?

      • Triman023

        I have always been reluctant to lane split, just dont trust the drivers much. My friends accident just highlighted the risks for me. I didn’t say I never do it, I just have to have a really compelling reason, not just to shave a few minutes off my trip. Seeing my friend in the hospital these weeks was a big shock, I have never seen that much damage to someone I knew. I love to ride and I want to tweak the probabilities more in my favor. I will reserve lane splitting as a tool to be used rarely and with caution.

  • Dani Peral

    Motorcycle commuting is another level…in summer you are sweating, in winter youre frozen to the bones, under the rain you get soaked. You have to watch for the cars. The buses. The taxis. Byciclists. Pedestrians. Pot holes. Even the white lines that divide the lanes are slippy.

    But in the bike you are almost unstoppable. No traffic jam can prevent you from reaching your destination. No slow driver can keep you at 90kmh on the left lane. You just keep moving, always forward, and when you park at the entrance of your office (because on a bike you always park on the entrance of your destination), you realize that you have just driven through one of the most congested cities in the world without totally stopping a single time. Then is when you grin to yourself and fall in love with motorcycle commuting :)

    (Well maybe you stop at a couple red lights, but you get the point hehehe)

  • Nathaniel Salzman

    I recently moved to Chicago from the Twin Cities and wasn’t enjoying riding as much as I did back in Minnesota. Chicago is just too dense to have much fun riding in town. Then I started commuting a few days a week on my 250cc Honda Elite and it completely brought the joy of riding back. If you don’t have easy access to scenic, challenging roads, then your commute can definitely be the best place to find your riding fix.

  • Coreyvwc

    Thanks man, this really captures the moment and the feeling superbly. Everyday I look forward to the 45 minutes of near insanity (for most) that is my southern California metropolitan commute. When everyone else shuffles into work angry and half asleep I’m already sitting there feeling quite mentally exhausted, but with a big stupid grin on my face…

  • Mike in NYC

    Maybe this is my inexperience, but I hate riding here in NYC, I’m just constantly stressed out. Give me the suburbs or country any day.

    • Vinicio

      I used to live and commute in SF – I totally get what he’s saying. Now I live in NYC, and hate riding through the city. I only ride to get the hell out. Not sure what the difference is, other than there seems to be a more aggressive style from cagers in NYC than in SF… and so much less space for so many people. I used to ride my motorcycle 7 days a week in SF, in NYC it’s just on the weekends. I feel less of a motorcyclist.

      • aristurtle

        The lanes are skinnier on the East Coast.

        I don’t have any facts to back this up but it feels truthy. I only lane-split in Baltimore when traffic is at a dead stop (which, on Pratt St., is pretty much all the time).

        • http://cynic13th.livejournal.com/ cynic

          Lane width is not a set thing. They vary from aprox. 9 to 14 feet. I’ve never ridden in NYC, but even here in SF some places are very hard to lane split since there is not much room. It would not surprise me to find that they were narrower on the east cost…

        • stefano

          man i only ride in nyc. and i love it. i can’t even imagine how much better it is elsewhere. I love the puzzle though. it’s just contant careful inputs and reactions. honestly it’s the only time im as focused as when i try my hand at meditating except easier: your mind cannot afford to wander

          • Miles Prower [690 Duke, MTS 1200]

            I hate riding my motorcycle in NYC. When I take my motorcycle into the city, I can’t wait to just park it in the garage, walk back to my apartment, and hop on my bicycle.

            Unlike riding a motorcycle in the city, riding a bicycle is so damn liberating!

            Plus, it’s 100,000,000x easier to lock a bicycle right outside your destination than park a plated motorcycle nearby.

    • wwalkersd

      When I first started riding, I had just taken the MSF basic course, and had had all the hazards scared into me. I found that I was so completely paranoid while riding that it wasn’t fun for me, and I quit after a year or two.

      15 years later, I got back into it, and found that I incorporated all that awareness of hazards into my car driving so completely in the intervening years that I was no longer stressed on the bike.

      Don’t wait 15 years, but do give it time. The more automatic the scanning and predicting gets, the less it stresses you out.

    • dan

      Love commuting in NYC by moto. More afraid of the weekends and suburbia. Manhattan, essentially one-way streets. You assume every cage is trying to kill you and go from there.

  • johnb

    Haha, great piece. I made the 50 miles from Costa Mesa to Wilshire Blvd office once in 42 mins. on a Ducati 998, great fun. Even better after the big quake when the 10 overpass collapsed over La Cienega… I learned all kinds of new ways around L.A. To me, earplugs in and on a bike in traffic is closest I get to Zen meditation. Or something like that. Flow…

  • NewOldSchool

    This! GF lives 30 min up the 101 and one of my favorite parts about going to the west side is slicing through Hollywood traffic or cutting up the 101. It activates this little part of my brain where I have to be acutely aware and react quickly.

  • randry

    I had to LOL, “little me acting a selfish asshole on two wheels”. I think most cagers look at us that way, only because we just kicked their but throught traffic and they couldn’t do a damn thing about, except to try to take us out.
    Some times I really enjoy being the asshole.

    • Mr.Paynter

      Yep. Me too.

  • TheZakken

    SF commuting is cray cray. Both my major crashes were during my commute in SF. I now ride (and drive) like a grandpa for the sole reason that being without my bike sucks. I didn’t mind the bruises and roadrash. I disliked my bike being in the shop for 6 weeks. The thought of losing my license and not being able to ride, or wrecking my bike (or worse, me) and not being able to ride have led me to preserve the privilege by being more conservative.

  • http://www.brammofan.com Brammofan

    Jealous of you lane-splitters. I have been stuck in traffic the last couple of days due to getting a slow start out the door and hitting the height of congestion. Today I’m taking the less-direct way home with slower speed limits but better curves and usually zero-congestion. I bet I’ll get home at about the same time, but I’ll be happier. And, to borrow a phrase from the fishermen – even a bad ride home on a motorcycle is better than a good day driving a car.

  • cdeforrest

    Sorry, seeing that first pic shifted my brain lanesplitting-Zen mode, with the black Lincoln pulling the douchey cager move & snuggling the centerline.
    Jealous, homicidal or just absent minded? Considering its a limo, I’ll go with one of the first two.

  • metawill

    YES, this article translates perfectly into words what it is like for me in everyday riding. If you think riding around a congested city in the U.S. is chaotic, you should see what it’s like here in asshat-driver-land, Porto Alegre, Brazil.

    • http://www.ninja250blog.com R.Sallee (Ninja 250)

      Maybe some day if I’m lucky :)

  • dan

    I agree with you. You should try commuting to and into Manhattan. I need no other recreational riding besides the daily commute.

  • paulo

    Sometimes I bemoan the fact that i live in the arse end of the world, especially when I see posts about all the great biking events held in Europe and the States. One of the upsides is of being way down here my daily commute which is essentially 15 minutes of traffic free coastal b roads. Everyday rain or shine I never feel like getting to work is a chore. I chose to get rid of my car years ago as I realized driving a car just made me angry.

    http://maps.google.co.nz/?ll=-41.299218,174.832392&spn=0.024568,0.132093&t=h&layer=c&cbll=-41.299188,174.832432&panoid=FAY4J7QbaWnYvmUNm2D7wA&cbp=11,176.35,,0,0.16&z=14

    • http://www.ninja250blog.com R.Sallee (Ninja 250)

      You’re not getting my sympathy :)

      • Roman

        Seriously, zero sympathy whatsoever.

    • MicMacinACT

      A mate of mine used to live in Island Bay and every time I’ve visited I just think – Must Ride A Bike Here!!!
      Great City, Great Country
      Cheers
      Mick in Canberra

  • Gene

    Hm. I leave for work at 9:30am and leave work at 7pm, so I miss most of the rush hour stuff. I still have slow people on the way to work, even bikes (mostly Harleys and Goldwings)

    I don’t lanesplit (mostly) but my motto is (with apologies to Steve Miller)
    “I want to drive like an asshole
    To the sea
    Drive like an asshole
    Let my spirit carry me
    I want to drive like an asshole
    Till I’m free”

  • http://www.firstgenerationmotors.blogspot.com Emmet

    Share more of his writing. His blog is full of awesome.

    • Miles Prower [690 Duke, MTS 1200]

      +1. I’ve been reading his blog on and off for a while now, ever since I first clicked on his handle here.

  • errorick

    Wow.. How many bay riders are there here?

    Personal Favorite ‘City Ride’ in SF? Surfing the 1 way steel river up and over on Franklin street, catching nothing but sweet timed green light goodness..

    • http://rider49er.blogspot.com Mark D [EX500]

      Seemingly, a lot. I personally like the section of Geary between downtown and the Richmond (past Japan town). Only fast riding in town.

  • Sentinel

    And I thought I was the only one!

    So I’ve been thinking about when to leave for a trip out of town lately and I’m a bit torn. Should I leave when traffic is light, or when it’s gridlocked so that I can have some slicing and dicing fun on my way? lol

  • ozgeek

    “A line of dawdling cars clogging the freeway becomes a moving puzzle to overtake.”

    I call it sliding windows. Looking for the gap to get ahead.

    There should be a way to quantify the level of peak hour slog. 65km each way from one side of Melbourne to the other. You come up with ways to amuse yourself.

  • David S

    I love the last photo. Any tips on how to reproduce it?

    In regards to daily commute. It takes me longer to put my gear on, and push the bike out of the garage than it does to drive to work. One of the cons of working 2 miles from where you live, you don’t get much of a ride to work.

  • Ed Bisdee

    I love the Sunday Best! R.Sallee’s blog really captures how I feel about riding. Keep up the good work!

  • Steven

    une ragecomic classique

  • paulo

    Thanks for leading me to R Salle’s Blog, I stayed up far too late reading old posts, Fantastic writing and content. : )

  • Gene

    So has no one had nutty cager incidents?

    I’ve had a BMW cut me off in a left turn lane and slam on his brakes and stop.

    I’ve had a guy in a Maserati pull a gun out and put it in his lap while yelling incoherently at me.

    I’ve had a plumbing van try to chase me down and push me off the road. He gave up after we went around the same 3 blocks 6 times.

    I’ve had an F-150 pull over in the shoulder on the right to block me so I couldn’t turn.

    This is why I now wear a GoPro all the time.

    • http://www.postpixel.com.au mugget

      Oh no, I’ve had plenty of nutty cager incidents. The skill is in anticipating any danger, and taking action to remove yourself from potentially dangerous situations.

      I have had a city bus merge into my lane, while I was in it. Lesson – the driver must not have seen me. Don’t drive in bus blind spots. Better to just pass then and get in front.

      I have had a guy in a car, on his mobile phone try and merge into me. I was slowly coming up by him and clearly saw him on the phone, he put his blinker on and didn’t even shoulder check, started to merge so I just honked the horn. The look on his face was priceless. Lesson – sometimes you have to ride faster than the speed limit for your own safety. Also it helped that I was ready on the horn the instant his car started to move towards my lane.

      I’ve also had cars turn out/do u-turns right in front of me. A couple of times I have just slammed on the brakes & stopped, other times I see them stop, then I just go around. But I can pick up on that type of behavior. Saved my own ass once when I turned into a street, and saw a car further down at a stop sign waiting to do the same. I usually give the throttle a good twist down this particular section, but I didn’t this time because the car was waiting there to turn. Good thing I didn’t gas it, because that car turned out right in front of me and I would have stacked it if I was going much faster.

      Plenty of crazy stuff happens, and you sure see some crazy stuff when you commute for long enough. The trick is to develop that skill of identifying how other road users are likely to act.

      • Gene

        Well most of that is the standard “I don’t need to pay attention” folks. That happens literally every other day around here. I was kind of talking about the ones where someone actually went apeshit for no apparent reason.

        For example, the BMW sat there in the middle of the turn lane with his finger out, and the F-150 driver just gave me the “what are you going to do about it?” grin out the window. This shit was on purpose.

        Once driving home after the Superbowl, I stopped at a light behind a white Econoline van. The driver got out, walked to the back of the van and yelled incoherent things at me while his wife screamed at him to get back in the van.

        The best “not-on-purpose” was when a 280Z actually kept up with me when I left a light. He must have figured he went fast enough to leave everybody else at the light so he didn’t need to look when he changed lanes. I tapped the horn and he snapped it back hard enough to bark the tires. I was worried he was going to lose it for a couple seconds.

  • http://www.postpixel.com.au mugget

    Cool stuff. Looks like there are plenty of people who feel the same about commuting!

    I have thought for years that commuting is often the best part of my work week. Now that I work for myself from home, commuting is actually something that I kinda miss! But that just makes track days and group rides the next best motorcycling activities.

  • justink

    Been commuting in LA almost daily for 7+ years now on the 101, 10, and 405 freeways rain or shine. I’ve been hit by vans (twice), crashed and gone down due to both my and the fault of others numerous times with consequences of varying degrees of severity. I’ve seen many smashed bikes on the side of the road with riders still standing and in an ambulance. I’ve been one of the first people on the scene after a bad crash staring down at the broken body of a rider astonished that he was still breathing. Riding buddies and acquaintances who’ve been smashed or killed. I’ve had countless people turn into my lane without even glancing at me, sometimes even continuing to merge after I laid down on the horn and made eye contact with them. Countless people who’ve turned left right in front me when I’ve had the right of way, even when I flash my brights as I do out of habit if I anticipate this behavior. Thankfully most of my accidents were in my early years of riding and as every year passes I have less and less close calls. Close calls are unacceptable to me now and I take full responsibility for being aware of the possibilities around me in traffic and how best to respond. The learning curve is high and merciless on a bike. I sometimes wonder if its worth the risks but sitting in a car stuck in traffic for hours is just as crazy to me and of course the feeling of riding a bike is incomparable for the many reasons stated in this article and more.