back to article Biker nerfed by robo Chevy in San Francisco now lobs sueball at GM

A motorcyclist is suing General Motors in the US after he was knocked off his motorbike by one of the automaker's self-driving cars. In a civil lawsuit [PDF] alleging negligence and demanding damages, photographer Oscar Nilsson claimed he was hit by an autonomous Chevrolet Bolt that had a human driver at the wheel. The driver …

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So if the S/W thinks the other guy's doing something illegal it's OK to hit him? Surely accident avoidance shouldn't rely on what ought to be happening instead of what is.

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.....except that, according to the article, the guy wasn’t doing anything illegal, the car however started a manoeuvre then changed ‘its’ mind. In reality it’s almost certainly a bit 6 and 2 threes.

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Surely overtaking on the wrong side is a problem for wetware with one set of eyes but no different for a self-driving car?

Or am I missing something?

Perhaps it was British software?

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"Surely overtaking on the wrong side is a problem for wetware with one set of eyes but no different for a self-driving car?"

No, that's not illegal in the USA. Failing to yield to faster traffic is illegal, it's basically the opposite. If someone can pass you on the right legally, you're breaking the law.

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I think the cyclist is at fault.

If a Human were driving the car, signaled to change lanes & then didn't complete the maneuver but instead returned to their own lane before completely leaving their lane, then anyone (car or motorcycle) that attempted to pass into their original lane (the one they never completely vacated) then the driver attempting to pass would be at fault.

You're not supposed to attempt to occupy a lane until it's completely empty, otherwise you run the risk of causing an accident if the other driver has to make an emergency reaction that means they have to reoccupy the spot they never fully left.

What if the car intended to change lanes, indicated that intention, & started to follow through with the move only to see an object (ladder, dog, a mangled Human body, whatever) & had to abort the maneuver to return to the safety of their original spot?

If you saw their intention, waited for them to completely leave the lane & complete the maneuver, and then (and only then) move into the vacancy that's a different matter; not bothering to wait for the other driver to complete their lane change, "anticipating & being proactive" in this case means you weren't paying attention to the actual conditions at the time.

Lane splitting is already a dangerous thing to do even in the best of conditions & at the best of times, doing it while another vehicle is in the middle of (but hasn't yet completed) a lane change is completely suicidal.

If you gave the other driver plenty of room so you could react in a timely fashion to any "WTF?! ACK!" move they may make, then you wouldn't be in a dangerous position to get yourself sideswiped by the vehicle you were trying to pass before it was safe to do so.

*Sighs & shakes head*

I'm of two minds on this: on one hand I used to ride a bike myself, took multiple defensive driving courses, & know exactly the kind of stupid shit some folks get up to while riding; on the other hand my mum was an insurance agent & drilled into me the importance of never letting your guard down.

It's already dangerous enough just riding in the first place, you don't need to ADD to the potential lethality by trying to pass a car *on the right* before it's well & truely safe to try.

The biker is lucky he's still around to complain; even a low speed crash can prove fatal if it hits you just right (wrong).

It doesn't take a 500Lb object to be moving very fast to land on your head & grind you into a slime patch.

I think the cyclist will be found to be at fault & will hopefully lose his license; the roads are dangerous enough as it is without letting people proven to be "a few buckles short of a safety harness" loose on them.

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Surely overtaking on the wrong side is a problem for wetware with one set of eyes but no different for a self-driving car?

No, driving in the land of hideous driving.

Most of the world expects that the slow traffic is in the slow lane, faster next to it and the fastest in the fast lane (left to right in Britain, Japan, etc and opposite elsewhere). In most of the world overtaking on the wrong side in front of a cop is asking for 3 points on your license.

It is only USA which has the grand idiocy of everyone driving in any lane at any speed they please and overtaking on both sides. Theoretically some states have restrictions regarding overtaking on the right. That is the most theoretical of all restrictions - one nobody ever complies with.

I find it quite entertaining that GM pulled that restriction out of the hat. While it is in theory legally in the right, if this ever goes in front of a jury convincing 12 people all of which overtake on the right all the time that overtaking on the right is somehow illegal is a very tough call.

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Hun ?? Under no circumstance can you pass on the right in the US

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@Doctor Syntax

The software didn't "think" the guy was doing anything illegal. It wanted to switch lanes, but the lead car in the lane it wanted to switch to slowed down so it had to abandon the lane change halfway through and return to its original lane. The motorcyclist prematurely tried to get past, was knocked on his ass for his trouble, and is now suing because he (or the ambulance chaser representing him) knows autonomous cars are a deep pocketed target.

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@kain preacher

Passing on the right isn't illegal, but allowing yourself to be passed on the right (because you aren't moving to the right yourself when faster traffic is coming from behind) is illegal in some states.

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People get tickets for Passing in the right. Most states in the US the left lane is for passing only. Yes it would be easy for a jurry to find the bike at fault. I don;t know if you have every been to the US but no it's not common to pass on the right

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Re: @kain preacher

Dough not if you are doing the speed limit

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Re: @kain preacher

That's not true. In some states it is illegal not to move over to the right to allow faster traffic by even if you are doing the speed limit or greater. As it should be.

Luckily you are wrong, if we had a combination of "you can stay in the left lane as long as you are driving the speed limit" and "it is illegal to pass on the right" some asshole could drive the speed limit in the left lane and hold up traffic for miles!

http://www.mit.edu/~jfc/right.html

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Re: @kain preacher

That happens here on the East coast of Canada, far too often.

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Re: @kain preacher

I never said you can stay in the left lane in every state. You can in California , but not in states like michgian . and yes you can stay in the left lane and only be doing the speed limit in California.

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Re: @kain preacher

If driving the speed limit cause traffic jams then there is some thing else wrong such as the limit is way to slow. I've never had that problem in California because most people do at least 10 over. 85 on 65 free way is common.

Now for me when I'm doing 85 in the left lane and some comes up and is pissed that I'm driving that slow I tend to get over so that person can get away from me . Now the one thing that does tends to make irritate me ,is do to traffic I can only do 55 in 65 and some ass hat behind me gets mad as if I can magically drive faster or through the cars in front of me . you know the kind that starts honking his horn, flashing his lights.

The other silly issue I've had is being in the slow lane towing. Hey there are three other lanes to go around me.

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It is only USA which has the grand idiocy of everyone driving in any lane at any speed they please and overtaking on both sides. You can do this in Western Australia. I was "surprised" the first time it happened to me as I was used to checking the offside lane for overtaking traffic...

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Re: six and two threes....

Interesting ... my initial thought is that the car is 100% at fault

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As some other people have mentioned, the concept of "right of way" takes less precedence over avoiding a collision. As stated in the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea:

In construing and complying with these rules due regard shall be had to all dangers of navigation and collision and to any special circumstances, including the limitations of the vessels involved, which may make a departure from these rules necessary to avoid immediate danger.

This is a real thorny part of the "self driving" problem: when to throw the rules out the door. In this case, I believe the self-driving car should have intentionally hit the car ahead if the speed of collision was low (as it appears to have been) since the more robust safety mechanisms in cars as compared to the non-existent safety mechanisms in motorcycles mean that everyone would have had a better chance of walking away unharmed.

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You have to keep left in Western Australia at 90km/h or above, with some exceptions - http://www.roadrules.rsc.wa.gov.au/road-rules/keeping-left.

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this was a city street, not a highway. 3 lane one way streets, quite frequently the left lane is full stopped because someone up ahead is making a left turn and waiting for pedestrians, are you saying the other two lanes have to stop and wait for the left lane to move before they can proceed? HAHAHAAHAHAHHA, right.

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Re: @kain preacher

THIS WAS A CITY STREET, THREE LANES, ONE WAY.

street view of area of accident,

https://www.google.com/maps/@37.7739495,-122.4313417,3a,75y,75.14h,90t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1slVB1-aUcs5K1fWyTjBZtYg!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

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Re: I think the cyclist is at fault#2

I ride bikes all the time in the good old UK. Been doing it since 1976 and I'm still going strong.

I "Filter" that's what we call "Lane splitting" over here. I ride from the South coast of England to the centre of London every day, rain, shine, snow, high winds, whatever. Technically it's not against the law, to filter but you do need to be sensible. I did over 38,000 miles last year on my bikes. I've been known to "Filter with attitude" as my mate calls it, in fact I'm so regular on one of the routes I use I see the same vehicles most mornings and they usually make space for me to get past.

What I do know is that I ride expecting cars/buses/truck/vans/cyclists/scooter riders AND pedestrians to make any crazy maneuver you care to think of. Stop dead, instant turns, drive where they are looking, step out, cross the road in front of buses (happens a lot in central London) open doors, you name it. And so I never get surprised by what they do, I'm expecting it. I ride a bike that is capable of 150mph, but can still, just about, stop far quicker than it can accelerate. So that's always the first option, stop or slow down.

Yes, I agree this rider was at fault as far as I'm concerned because he should have been expecting this autonomous car to look after the occupants of the vehicle, not anyone over taking it without making sure it's safe to do so. It's pretty simple, me and my bike weigh about 320kg together. Most cars have much more mass than I have, they are not going to "bounce" off me. I'm not ever going to knock a Routemaster off it's intended course.

A scooter I might be able to move, a cyclist is possible, a pedestrian might but anything heavier than I am gets enough space to keep me safe. Anything that I might be able to knock out of the way gets enough space as well. I always let buses out, if I see a car waiting to turn right in front of me especially in London I will wait until I know he has seen me or he has pulled out.

It's called looking after No1. He wasn't doing that, even in the US surely there has to be some measure of taking responsibility for your own actions?

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Re: @kain preacher

"yes you can stay in the left lane and only be doing the speed limit in California."

Not if somebody wants to pass. If you refuse to move over, you are impeding the flow of traffic, and subject to a moving violation (points on license, insurance goes up, etc.). Yes, EVEN IF the party wishing to pass would have to break the speed limit to do so. It's not up to you (a civilian) to decide the speed of other traffic.

The way I look at it, I just move over if someone wants to go faster than me. I still drive my drive, while allowing them to drive theirs. It's no big deal, I'll get to where I'm going. And if it's a ricer (or other twat) on I5 wanting to do 100MPH+, I'll follow safely behind at ~95MPH and allow them to get the ticket. When used judiciously, "cop plows" are gawd/ess's gift to the long-distance traveler ...

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Re: @kain preacher

As a part time motorcyclist in the UK, I use my two wheel privilege to filter through heavy slow moving traffic. However, I have to accept that it is a risk thing to do and remember that the drivers in the vehicles I'm passing are fallible humans. Just assuming that I should be OK to do something because it is legal is a road to pain. People will make mistakes. The common cyclists error (I am also a cyclist) is to insist on their "right of way" even when it is potentially dangerous. It's the wrong mindset, always yield where it will minimise risk. If you are filtering then you watch the cars like a hawk and if a vehicle is manouvering you give it space until you are sure that you know what the driver is going to do. I would not have got close to a car changing lanes in heavy traffic, even if it appeared to be going away from me.

I've have 1 injury accident in 23 years. Caused by a deer.

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Actually it's Australia that allows you to overtake on either side - provided there are at least 2 lanes.

Whilst that isn't really approved on Motorways/Tollways it's perfectly legal on normal roads.

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Filtering is perfectly legal here in the UK, in fact during a bike test if you fail to filter when its safe to do so you fail for lack of confidence in your ability. As per original comment though even if said biker was doing something he shouldn't that doesn't give self driving cars the right to hit him... it is in situations like this where the gap it was going for is no longer a safe option yet abandoning the move leads to an accident that is the hard bit of programming as you have to now make a difficult choice, if in the case both would end up with a casualty which one do you want the computer to choose?

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Re: I think the cyclist is at fault.

"If a Human were driving the car, signaled to change lanes & then didn't complete the maneuver but instead returned to their own lane before completely leaving their lane, then anyone (car or motorcycle) that attempted to pass into their original lane (the one they never completely vacated) then the driver attempting to pass would be at fault."

But it isn't clear that that's what happened. "Lane splitting" was mentioned, and in the complaint the biker said he was on the middle lane. Was he, or was he lane-splitting? And if he was lane-splitting, was it between middle and outer lanes or between middle and inner lanes? As a biker myself I would say that splitting is more safely done between inner lane and next lane out, particularly at speed mentioned of 17mph. This should always be done with awarenss of cars around and making sure they know that you're there, converseley meaning, don't squeeze into a space you can't manoevre in.

With my 'car driver' hat on, when merging into faster traffic I am not only looking at the gaps I can move into but also further ahead to see the situation AHEAD of the car that I want to merge BEHIND, exactly to avoid the situation described. I'm guessing that maybe robo-AI is not capable of accurately guaging this. I also know that as a biker, when driving a car I am more aware of bikes on the road, but many motorists aren't so aware. Is there the possibility that the robo-AI sensors are also more calibrated to see cars than smaller objects? (I should think not as it should be able to detect pedestrians). So did the robo-car not detect the biker at all, or did it somehow get into a position where it had to hit either the bike or one of the cars in the lane it was abortively merging into? In this latter case would be especially interesting to see the telemetry, as one of the most discussed topics on AI driving is, if collision is unavoidable either way, which collision is chosen?

So while the biker is not blamesless, I would not say he is completely at fault either, both himself and the robo-AI displayed errors of judgement, awareness and execution.

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Re: I think the cyclist is at fault#2

@ Lost it

I agree entirely with this. When I first learned to drive, the best advice I was given was "Just work on the basis that anyone using the road around you can and will, and entirely without warning, do something stupid. You need to be ready to deal with that."

Served me very well for the last 16 years or so of driving.

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"Under no circumstance can you pass on the right in the US"

I'm not sure if it's LEGAL to pass on the right, but having driven there I assure you that not only can it be done, but is done with alarming frequency. Add to that 5 or 6-lane highways (when we Europeans are more used to 2 or at most 3 lanes), and the fact that USA-ians have the tendency to not only overtake on any lane, but also cut across multiple lanes at a time, AND do so mostly in gigantic 5-tonne vehicles that are far more truck than car, it can get pretty hairy

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Re: @Doctor Syntax

"The motorcyclist prematurely tried to get past"

If the biker was following the robocar at a constant speed, the car started changing lane, then the car in front slowed down, so it decided to abort the manoever, presumably in this case the robocar braked at the same time as aborting the lane change. It's not a given that the biker accelerated into the space. I also suspect that the safety threshold for aborting the lane change is much hgher for the robocar than for a normal driver, ie it could be that the biker expected that the robocar woud complete the lane change manoever because a real driver would have squeezed their way in. (Also, was the biker aware at the time that it was a robocar not a human driver? How well are these cars marked?)

As a small aside, reported speed at impact was 17mph (27km/h) which is very slow-moving traffic. This type of traffic is slowed up even more by idiots changing lanes because they think the next kane is going at 2km/h faster than theirs (hint: it probably isn't)

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Re: I think the cyclist is at fault#2

Yep. Long term biker here (since '69 ) and rode around 13K miles last year on a big bike.

I was taught defensive riding by an ex Police Instructor in the mid 1970's. In traffic I still ride as he taught me. That skill has saved my life on many an occassion.

Ride as if you expect Tin Cans (driven or driverless) to do stupid things and you will survive.

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Trollface

"Actually it's Australia that allows you to overtake on either side - provided there are at least 2 lanes."

So if there are 2 lanes it's still OK to be overtaken on either side?? Wow, the Australian traffic must be as wild as the local fauna :)

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Re: @kain preacher

"That's not true. In some states it is illegal not to move over to the right to allow faster traffic by even if you are doing the speed limit or greater. As it should be."

Well, no, not really. Theoretically, if you move out of the way of someone wanting to speed, maybe you are "aiding and abetting"? Obviously, you should always return to the most left (or right depending on local driving rules) driving lane after passing, but are you sure there is a law stating you must get out of the way of someone breaking the speed limit?

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Re: I think the cyclist is at fault#2

"even in the US surely there has to be some measure of taking responsibility for your own actions?"

Don't be silly. "This coffee may be hot", "objects in the rear view mirror..." etc., etc., etc.

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Re: I think the cyclist is at fault#2

Actually "objects in the rear view mirror are closer than they appear" is a pretty valid warning, it isn't so obvious

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Alien

Car markings

An article elsewhere had a pic of that robo-car, and they're easily identified as such, or at the very least something out of the ordinary, by a roof rack fitted with cameras and other sensors.

They appear to not have further markings such as "BEWARE - ROTM - KEEP YOUR DISTANCE"

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Re: I think the cyclist is at fault#2

Actually "objects in the rear view mirror are closer than they appear" is a pretty valid warning, it isn't so obvious

In my Mustang GT, the warning says "objects in the rear view mirror are irrelevant".

Also a big thumbs-up for the subtitle, best lyrical play I've seen here in a while.

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Re: @kain preacher

Absolutely agree that the motorcyclist made a mistake... However: as far as UK insurance goes, which I would also consider to be fairly sensible rules, making a mistake does not always make you the one at fault. If you are driving along the road and you brake for a cat and the person (too close) behind hits you, yes you made a mistake: according to the Highway Code you should not brake for an animal without checking your rear view mirror ... but they will nearly always be found at fault: to do otherwise they would usually have to prove you deliberately attempted to cause a collision (because, e.g. you were annoyed at them tailgaiting you).

If the biker had hit the back of the car, this would be clear cut, his fault. But when a vehicle sideswipes another during a manouvre, the vehicle making the lateral movement will usually be considered at fault. Whether that manouvre is an 'undo' of an aborted manouvre is usually irrelevant, as whether the other vehicle should have been there or not: good luck avoiding being found at fault for hitting an illegally parked car solely on the basis it was illegally (not dangerously) parked.

If you drive out of a parking space, but realize you are about to impede another driver, and you reverse back injuring a pedestrian who thought you were committed to driving out, who is at fault? You don't get to say "oh, the space should be empty because I was in it, I drove out and then I had a reason to 'undo' my drive out." Well, you could say it, but I doubt it would carry much weight.

The vehicle is at fault IMHO because (a) it is the heavier entity and must always bear the greater responsibility, (b) because it was the one making a manouvre and possibly (c) because it shouldn't even have commenced making a manouvre that would have to be aborted for anything other than emergency reasons. (If, unlike me, you consider what happened "emergency reasons" I think the correct result would have been a low speed rear-end of the car in front rather than a sideswipe of a motorbike to the side, regardless of whether that vehicle was breaking any rules.

TL;DR: "That shouldn't have been there" is never considered a good reason for a collision in the UK. Trust me, I drove my Audi into a police car at a road block.

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Re: I think the cyclist is at fault#2

Actually "objects in the rear view mirror are closer than they appear" is a pretty valid warning, it isn't so obvious - NO! I couldn't see the object because of the fucking warning!

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Re: I think the cyclist is at fault.

The trouble with "lane splitting" is that it is only legal in the UK "if it is safe", but it never is. If the surrounding traffic is stationery then you have no where to go to, and if the traffic is moving then (as others have already said) you _have_ to assume that the other vehicles are about to change lanes.

No one ever has a "right to overtake" so I just don't get why bikers think that _they_ do.

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Re: @kain preacher

If driving the speed limit cause traffic jams then there is some thing else wrong such as the limit is way to slow.

Not true. In heavy traffic conditions it's common for the speed limit to be reduced to prevent traffic jams. Urban motorways have variable speed limits for just this reason.

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Re: I think the cyclist is at fault#2

Or to paraphrase the way my father put it when I first started learning to drive:

Drive with the presumption that every other road user is an idiot.

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Re: I think the cyclist is at fault.

"The trouble with "lane splitting" is that it is only legal in the UK "if it is safe", but it never is. If the surrounding traffic is stationery then you have no where to go to, and if the traffic is moving then (as others have already said) you _have_ to assume that the other vehicles are about to change lanes."

If traffic is stationary, there is still space between the lanes for a bike to pass through at a very low speed (20km/h or less). If a car is in the way, slow down or stop, but very often cars will move out of the way to allow a bike to lane-split. Even in stationary traffic, cars usually have space to manoevre a little bit.

In slow-moving traffic, bikes can generally safely do up to 20km/h faster than surrounding traffic. In this type of traffic it is stupid for a car to try and change lane, and people changing lanes most probably won't go any faster in the new lane, and are just slowing the already slo traffic.

In any case, bikers should be paying attention to everything hapening around them, and leave themselves room to manuevre, particularly so when lanesplitting. Keep in mind also that bikes generally can accelerate, brake and change direction much faster than a car, so as long as a biker is payng attention they can usually twist their way out.

In this particular case, I can't comment on fault or blame without knowing very exact details, but it is quite likely that both car and biker could have acted differently to avoid collision.

All the above based on >> 20 years' experience on 2 and 4 wheels

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Re: I think the cyclist is at fault#2

As a young man, a long time ago, I rode a motor bike. Like you, I gave priority to looking after number one. I found one had to ride on the assumption that other road users simply did not see you.

The optical laws of reflection seem to treat bikers as a special case, and remove a biker image from the mirror's field of view.

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Re: @kain preacher

In Britain, the Highway Code specifically says to let people overtake if they want. The HC is not law, but can be cited in court.

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Last_clear_chance means u can't plow into someone out of spite for cutting u off

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Re: I think the cyclist is at fault#2

What I do know is that I ride expecting cars/buses/truck/vans/cyclists/scooter riders AND pedestrians to make any crazy maneuver you care to think of

Summarised by my bike instructor (many years ago) as:

"Ride like everything on the road is trying to kill you. Because, at some point, it will be, oftem without realising it"

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Re: @kain preacher

I've have 1 injury accident in 23 years. Caused by a deer

Two injury accidents in 35 years:

1) On my magnificently powerful learner bike (125cc, 12bhp) - accellerated away from a junction behind a car - who then promptly put its brakes on to do a right turn. Bike ended up jammed under their rear bumper. I remember sliding down the road thinking "I'm glad I'm wearing leathers..". Injuries - a few bruises on my knees and a somewhat diminished pride in my motorbike-fu.

2) Coming out of go-karting on a cold winters night on my Fireblade 900. Taking it carefully because the road ran along the top of the hill and the ambient temperature was about -5C. Came to a small corner at about 20mph (with cold tyres), tipped the bike slightly into the corner then watched both tyres go very quickly sideways and the bike slide off down the road on its side. Main thought was "this is going to get expensive..". Injury - bruising to my backside and a wedge of cash extracted from my wallet to buy a new side panel.

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