Hidden In Plain Sight
In nature, the chameleon has the ability to camouflage itself with its surroundings. This gives he reptile an edge while attacking its prey but more importantly, it is a key defensive system for survival. While in life, man has work constantly to replicate and perfect the same aspect of being hidden from others (primarily in the military and hunting fields) for that edge and survival; the art of blending with our surroundings as a motorcyclists can have a devastating effect – one that all of us rather not encounter.
That ever infamous statement of “I didn’t see him/her” should be a driving force for us to approach certain scenarios differently with a possible positive outcome – nothing happening at times can be a great thing! I have heard many riders, instructors, etc state that we should consider ourselves invisible to the driving world around us. While that may be a good start and something close to the truth, we need to look at points that we can take to protect ourselves whether we are invisible or not.
One point I have mentioned several times when it comes to being conspicuous is the gear we wear while riding. Bright colors and reflective materials work far better than the traditional black that bikers have been traditionally associated with. I recently attended an event where at least 70% of the attendees were wearing Hi Viz gear and clothing, perhaps Hi Viz is slowly becoming the new black? Couldn’t hurt. Another thing we can do when it comes to our machines is install additional lighting. It just makes common sense that the more illumination you have either front, rear, or sides that it should hopefully help present more of an awareness of you to others. Once again – couldn’t hurt, except for your wallet but if it prevents a conflict and/or injury I think it certainly would be worth the cost.
So we covered making ourselves more visible via our gear and bikes, but is there anything we can do while riding? Absolutely. One factor that many within the safety skills industry feels is an important one to consider is lane positioning. Where we place ourselves for a situation or scenario can perhaps make a major difference as to what could or couldn’t happen to us. Lane positioning is a constant adjustment; if we a moving then situations change as quickly as we roll. We want to keep ourselves in the best position of the lane where we have the best visual input for ourselves as well as to be in best visual view for those around us.
The constant adjustments to achieve this require a better sense of awareness for us to take in all the information around us and play the “what if” game. If you are always taking in your surroundings you may recognize things that you can adjust for way before any bad problems have a chance to happen. If you’re in traffic or riding within a town or city you would definitely consider that you just may blend in to the surroundings and not be seen. Though there is no definitive corrective action but it could be as simple as slowing down to adjust for anything or covering your controls for a quick reaction or shifting lane positions prior to intersections, maybe just your movement will help develop awareness to others.
The one thing I am a bit leery about is flashing your headlights; there is a chance that a driver may interpret the information differently and where you intention was to bring awareness, they might consider it as a signal to proceed into your path of travel. The same can be said for oscillating headlights, though I have heard many positive comments from users of these devices; I have also been told of the times that drivers didn’t know what was ongoing and mistook the lights for a signal to proceed. Just another thing to consider.
Even if we wear the brightest of gear, install to brightest illumination available and become vigilant with our awareness of our surroundings and always adjust correctly for the conditions we encounter, can that guarantee the elimination of the risks we deal with other vehicles and drivers? Definitely not; but I believe, as well as many others, that each step we take is one closer to reducing the risks and likelihood of living the world of the chameleon where we are hidden in plain sight.