As a demonstration, he gave each of us a pen, and pointed to a bike that was parked about 25 – 30m (80 – 100 ft.) away on the other side of the venue.
“Can you all see the bike parked over yonder?” He asked.
“Yeah, of course we can”. We all mumbled.
The instructor continued “Good. Now put the pen at arm’s length, and in your line of sight, between you and the bike.”
“How many of you can see it now?” He asked.
We all struggled to see the bike in its entirety, we could see a little of the front, or back, but not the whole thing. Some of us had shorter arms so didn’t see the bike at all.
The instructor went on to explain that the brain puts what the eyes see together, like a jigsaw puzzle, and what it doesn’t know, it makes up as it goes along.This was a practical demonstration of ‘why’ we as motorcyclist should think of ourselves as invisible.
Consider the gadgets that people hang from their rear view mirror, or windscreen, or the location of the pillars that hold up the roof of a car.
Every one of these will totally hide a motorcycle and its rider.
Worse, most people do not turn their heads or “shoulder check” their blind spots when turning or changing lanes. Mirrors are seldom adjusted correctly and cannot be relied upon in my opinion.
This lesson in invisibility was reinforced to me recently on my usual commute to and from work, when I had a young lass in a dodgem car changed lanes almost on top of me.
She indicated, sure, but the indication was combined with changing lanes almost instantly the first flash of the indicator happened.
What she didn’t do was a “should check”. Had she have done that she would most likely have seen me.
Unfortunately the poxy OEM horn supplied on the bike just didn’t cut it in this instance. Its just not loud enough.
So over the Christmas break, I installed an aftermarket Stebel on my bike. I picked it up second hand for $30, and as it turned out it was money well spent. This horn produces a claimed 139db of sound at 2m and is wired in tandem with the OEM horn.
When you consider how well newer cars are insulated against noise, and the fact that windows are almost always up, the music up loud, and other distractions, a loud horn can make a world of difference.
This doesn’t excuse the driver from performing a “shoulder check” or obeying basic road rules and paying attention to what they are doing though.
Listen to a sound clip of the Stebel here. (pun intended)