Disclaimer: OzRider does not condone or encourage speeding! We believe all road users must always obey the road rules.

When we ride our motorcycles we have no physical protection, except for our riding gear. We do not have a metal cage around us, no front/rear bumper bars and no airbags. This leaves us very vulnerable when mishaps occur behind and around us. 

Taking Initiative

One of the most effective ways riders can deal with heavy traffic is to take the initiative. We cannot take the initiative when we ride at a slower speed than the traffic around us. Neither can we take the initiative when we ride at the exact same speed as the traffic around us. In both situations we are vulnerable to tailgating, being bumped from behind and drivers merging into our path. Basically we are at the mercy of the drivers around us, their (often poor) driving skills, alertness and attitude (ie aggression). 

However, when we ride slightly faster than the flow of traffic around us we have more control over our space and our buffer. We have more opportunities to choose the next safe place on the road. It’s an initiative. Without it, we have no protection.

Be mindful that faster does not mean fast! It just means faster than the pace around us.

How fast?

So the question is: how much faster than the flow of traffic should we ride? 

Unfortunately there is no straight answer to this question. There is widespread agreement that 5-10% faster than the traffic is a speed which allows initiative, yet is safe. A faster speed may surprise drivers around us, which may result in unexpected behaviour. It may also be faster than the speed limit, thus illegal.

This figure of 5-10% is not set in stone. None of us should spend any of our riding time on solving mathematical calculations. Our focus must be on what’s on the road around us, mainly ahead of us. So rather than trying to calculate what is 5-10% of 47km/h, we should simply ride slightly faster than the flow of traffic, while observing the speed limit.

We need to adjust our speed to maintain a safe position in traffic and constantly re-evaluate. We should move through traffic, slowing down or speeding up as necessary, but slightly faster than the surrounding traffic.

We must ride through the traffic, not with the traffic. Riding slightly faster than the traffic allows us to ride out of blind spots rather than in them. It allows us to control our situation, choose our position and focus on the next move ahead of us.

Be safe. Enjoy the ride

* * *

Related articles:
The Ability to Take Responsibility
Sorry Mate, This Is Why I Didn’t See You
2019 Was Not a Good Year for Rider Fatality