I'm posting this here, as some of the most valuable riding lessons I've learned have been from others' experiences.
I did the BC Safety Council course in 2001, and since then have done over 200k kms. 80k kms in the last three years. I'm sure all schools teach you to always keep an eye on your mirrors, especially at stop lights. This is something that saved my bacon today.
I was riding home in the rain travelling eastbound on Kingsway nearing Slocan. I was in the right lane and there was an old Toyota Tercel half a block behind me. The light at Slocan turn yellow and I braked coming to a stop. I have made a habit of tapping the brake light a few times when there is traffic behind me, or anytime that I'm slowing unexpectedly.
I glanced in the mirrors, and sure enough, Mr Tercel was still coming pretty fast. I saw the bumper suddenly dive and heard that awful sound of tires on wet pavement coming towards me. Sliding tires means no ABS. No ABS means he's not going to be able to steer, and I'm directly in his path. My training and experience kicked in and I reacted. I was still in gear, and managed to pull forward into the crosswalk (luckily no pedestrians) and to my left in-front of the car in the left lane. The Tercel slid to a stop next to me, just inches from my side case. I surely would have been ejected into the intersection had I stayed in-place. The whole process from first seeing the car to when it stopped was no more than a couple of seconds.
Here's some takeaway from the experience:
- Being in lane position 1 allowed me to quickly get out of the way. LP 3 may also have been doable, but there were right turning cars in the curb lane
- Keeping an eye on the mirrors, and identifying the threat.
- Staying in gear, ready to go
- Being aware of my surroundings, knowing that there were no pedestrians nearby.
- Also aware of cross traffic, and not just dumping the clutch to get out of the way.
- Things happen extremely quickly, and your reflexes need to be quicker.
In the words of Q of James Bond fame: "Always have an escape route."
Thank you for listening, and be safe out there!