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Commuting during coronavirus pandemic

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Commuting to work is one legitimate way to ride and avoid the pandemic lockdown and travel bans, yet some riders are either scared for their safety or find it inconvenient.

Motorcycle commuting is not only fun and challenging, but also handy for parking, faster than cars because of lane filtering and more convenient than public transport.

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However, many riders find the biggest drawback is safety.

Commuting traffic is fraught with danger from inattentive motorists on the phone, eating breakfast, getting dressed, putting on lipstick, reading the paper, changing channels on the radio or Spotify … anything but paying attention to riders.

Peak hour radio traffic reports frequently include motorcycle crashes involving cars, buses and trucks.

Riders can be understandably concerned.

So here are five safety tips for riding in heavy traffic:

  1. Ride as if you can’t be seen. Move around in your lane, try to stay out of blind spots, blow the horn or blip your throttle to alert drivers and wear something bright.
  2. Look at indicators and drivers for their intention to suddenly change lanes. They don’t always indicate, but you can sometimes see them move the steering wheel or their head as if they are about to swap lanes.
  3. Filter to the front of traffic at the lights, stay in gear with the clutch in and plan your exit route in case you hear screeching tyres behind you!
  4. Avoid filtering next to or around trucks and buses as they have limited visibility of small riders.
  5. Practise slow and balanced riding in a deserted carpark at the weekend, slipping the clutch, using the rear brake, keeping your head up and your eyes forward.

Inconvenient truth

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Even those who are confident in traffic may find commuting inconvenient because of the weather or because they have to wear a suit, well-ironed dress or carry a laptop and other gear.

So here are five tips to get around motorcycle commuting inconveniences:

  1. Fit panniers, top box and/or tank/tail bag to carry a change of clothes and gear such as a laptop;
  2. If not, then invest in a really strong but lightweight backpack (some even fold out like a suit carrier);
  3. If you are lucky enough to be able to shower at work, leave a towel and a couple of changes of clothes at work;
  4. Invest in high-quality airflow gear and carry a change of clothes;
  5. Invest in a high quality rain suit or separate waterproof jacket and pants that overlap.
  1. I’ve continued to commute by motorcycle into the Covid shutdown as I can’t work from home. It’s bloody brilliant as there are hardly any other cars on the road. No need to filter through traffic. I think it’s actually safer than before!

  2. I agree with Tempocyclist – the traffic has been so much lighter. Until this week, starting Monday 27th, when it seems 20-30℅ of the pre-covid commute traffic all returned at once. (These are absolutely rigorously yet sporadically considered opinions providing this data I’m making up right now). Add this 20-30% to the 30-40% of usual commute traffic that made riding to work at 5-5:30am each day fun again, and we’re back to 50-75% of the pre-covid stress test, cursing competition commute. (I reckon I wouldn’t be far off the actual numbers, but that could be the wrongest assumption here.. I’m eager to be called dreamer or King Guesser too).
    I have ridden to and from work the whole time via either a 30-40minute suburban festival of tollfree traffic lights 29km route, or a 60km/hr conga line for 10min, 110km/hr tollroad tradie and truck dodgem for 20min 32km route. Pretty much the same home. I leave home at 5:15,5:25am, and leave work at 3:00-3:15pm.
    Using my spot on, or way off, figures for traffic density at these times, I believe commuting in pre-covid traffic is borderline not safe long-term, because traffic density is well over acceptable levels, and getting worse. I now believe the road network I commute on is functional and usable and safe only at 50-70% of pre-covid numbers. I imagine this would apply to most of the Sydney metro area.
    This time of covid has allowed me to experience what traffic densities the system can accommodate, and what it can’t, and the consequences and effects shown by both. Pre-covid numbers were not normal, they were well above what the system can handle efficiently, effectively and safely over time. The negative impacts of this would are more severe and deleterious than we can imagine-reports last year had Sydney commuters the unhappiest in the country, with commute times getting longer and longer every year. Workers arrive at work stressed and pissed off and full of fight/flight physiologic processes, then workers get home stressed and pissed off and etc… Domestic violence up, productivity down. Working people putting 1-3hours, five days a week in a psychological and physical shitshow that has the added bonus of stuffing up the atmosphere, and making people fat and dumb through fast food and commercial radio…
    One thing could almost solve every one of these issues, fix all the problems. If one in four commuters got a motorcycle and drove their car into a scrapyard, and another quarter also ditched the cage and replaces it with nothing because they have access to clean, efficient, multiple forms of cheap or free public transport…. That’s two things…. But, it seems bloody simple to me… And one last thing-your car IS NOT YOU. Only cult members and fools would link their sense of self worth and wellbeing with car ownership….. Sydney is chock full of fools and cult members it seems

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