Written by English Don and pulled from the J.J. (A little long, but a great read! Hope it's okay to repost it here E.D.):
Here's some riding tips fromthe NYC Hellriding school:
NYC HARDCORE ATTACK RIDING OR LANE SPLITTING 101
As most experienced riders already have some idea of the ins and outs of Big City riding this important advice is mostly for the novice pilot. The white line thing is serious business. Life or death intense consentration and fearless courage is needed if you wish to endure. Hesitation and indecision will get you killed quicker than anything. Your instinct and ability to read the road is your most powerful tool.
KNOW THINE ENEMY
The first thing to master is reading the occupant of four wheeled cages. Most daily commuters are pretty docile, quite content to sit in their cloud of coffee and egg farts, listening to Howard Stern while jamming a finger up their nose to the second joint. Others can be quite irritable and pushy. The make and model of the car is a usually good indication of the mental state of the driver.
For example, the Volvo driver is possibly the most dangerous on the road. Why? Because the Volvo is advertised as the safest car in the world, so any person slightly paranoid about getting into a fender bender finds sanctuary in owning this Swedish bean can. Confidence in the vehicles defensive structure absolves them from having to posess any basic driving skills.
Another red flag is MD license plates. Doctors may have the goods to change your internal organs but they dont possess the savvy to change their own oil. They seem to ascribe to a hidden agenda geared to cause bodily harm to other people on the road. Usually enclosed in their four wheeled bubble with a car phone clamped to their ear, seven years of advanced education seems to excuse them from elementary politeness.
Now, what about women drivers? Most women are good drivers, but, if they have kids on board their protective mother instinct overrides the rational and they are slow and unpredicable. However, a chick in a Trans Am is hellfire!
Other killer cages can be identified as taxis, young single guys driving company vans, taxis, any Mercedes, BMW, infinity, etc, with tinted windows piloted by some young male with three buddies is an arrogant cock sucker period. After this comes belligerent truck drivers,taxis, messengers, taxis and old folks.
If a car has a bumper sticker it will give you a vital clue about whom you are about to pass. 1-800-EAT- SHIT...Save the Whales...My Kid Is An Honor Student...all are a cheerful label of an ASSHOLE. A Harley Davidson sticker will guarantee you some respect when trying to pass. Military college decals or cop shields are a major steer clear.
BEWARE THE YELLOW
TAXIS...Now this is a subject thet needs serious thought. A big city rider must pay particular attention to this yellow vermin. Undoubtedly the worst 4-wheeled scum ever born. These hellions have no respect for any other vehicle...DO NOT FOLLOW TOO CLOSE...snap lane shifts are always imminent. A cab with his "for hire" lights on will cut across six lanes of rush hour traffic to pick up a fare regardless of consequences.
Recently the cab pilot corp. has been monopolized by the newly arrived brown folk. Gone are the days of friendly Bronx-Brooklynite cabbies all willing to discuss the daily diatribe familiar to all New Yorkers. Consider this: there is no real aptitude exam for obtaining a hack license, not even minimal knowledge of the city's geography is required! Operating a motor vehicle safely is "unnecessary" as is courteous behaviour or spoken English...and what is that smell? However, in comparison to a suburban asshole who will squeal when challenged, a NYC cabby will usually take a punch in the face or a busted windshield if confronted. The reason they do not want police involvement in any way, shape or form is a brutal fear of the INS.
When white lining in heavy traffic, loud pipes and bright lights are better than mirrors or horns. Attack equipment over defensive goods every time. Lets face it, horns are for cattle. The only possible function of a mirror is for your ol' lady to put her lipstick on. However, the law says different.
Wide handlebars are a deterrent to the novice for obvious reasons but in the hands of a master they do not pose a problem. When used with jockey shifts they provide the necessary leverage to maneuver one-handed while making fast gear shifts. Drag bars are the perfect width for tight traffic but in conjunction with the clunky wide-glide and 16" wheel they provide near disastrous handling at slow speeds.
The best bet would be a 35mm-39mm dual disc narrow glide front end stock length or under with 4" risers and maybe a modest 10" rise "0" bar...Or a Queens boy Flanders bar. This will give you nearly 30" of leverage while putting your knuckles above car mirrors, yet, below door handles and mirror of most vans and trucks...also, the light handling and fast stopping narrow glide helps quick maneuvers.
Steering dampeners are optional and do give stability when negotiating pothole riddled roads at high speed. Springer front ends are strictly for looks. 1930's technology has no place in the modern world of lane splitting!...You might as well put a snow plow on your bike.
IF YOU CANT FIND 'EM, GRIND 'EM.
Choose your gear carefully. Acceleration is a good tool-keep RPMs up, ride the cam. Ride the lower gears harder. Seconds lost downshifting into the powerband can cost you.
Urban highway lane selection is important. In two lanes of traffic, obviously, you are safer in the center of the road, but, when three or more lanes come into play the place to operate is between the left and the middle lanes....there are less cars jockeying for position. The slot between middle to right is more dangerous in the bumper to bumper traffic. Car drivers often abruptly brake for an exit and the last thing they expect or look for is a motorcycle.
GIVE 'EM THE FINGER-ALL FIVE
When passing one car and entering a lane in front of another car...do not rely on just your turn signals USE HAND SIGNALS also and try to establish eye contact. This will let the cager know your intent. Hand signaling is very important, I cannot emphasize this enough. Use the turn signals, however, they can fail or deliver the wrong message especially if not cancelled promptly.
ASSUME THE CORRECT POSITION
When riding in heavy Manhattan traffic there are some additional rules. Keep to the middle of the avenues where there is less lane shifting from cagers. The dangers of double parked vehicles suddenly opening doors, taxis, buses and suicidal pedestrians are lessened.
When negotiating the major crosstown streets you must beware of the cages turning in traffic. When traveling say, say west to the piers and approaching a downtown (southbound) avenue there is always a line of cars waiting to make a left, so stay right. This applies in eastbound and uptown situations. Similarly, in westbound and uptown traffic, like towards Broadway, there will be cars trying to turn right, so stay left.
To make the right do not go to their inside right...this is a tight spot. Pass around their left and make your right double checking all the time for the idiot that decides to go straight after all. The cars are usually being held up by stumbling civilians in the crosswalk creating gridlock. This maneuver will give you more space to bypass the drones.
When at a city stop light try and get to the front of the line to be able to see the whole intersection. Beware of speeding vehicles and last chance pedestrians trying to make the light. Blipping your throttle serves two purposes, one to attract the attention of the cars so they can be aware of you and two to stop your motor loading up and fouling plugs.
SEE YOU, SEE ME
Eye protection is necessary. For all city pilots I would suggest clear or lightly tinted safety glasses. Bulky goggles and full face helmets may cut down on your peripheral vision as well as being hot in traffic. You must wear something to keep the city confetti, butts to bottles, from taking out an eyeball. Another hazard is crosswinds, especially on bridges. Slipstream and windbreaks caused by trucks are another adventure. Bikes sporting clumsy solid wheels, unnecessary bolt on covers, boxes and fairings will act as sails and tend to blow you across the road.
THE MORAL IS...
Be careful but confident. Hesitation and indecision will get you killed. Never underestimate the stupidity of the car driver they can be unpredictable and vindictive. Stay out of their blind spots. Oh and watch out for those rubber wheel-well accents on the city buses... they stick out six inches from the bus and will snag your levers!
If you want to drink and ride I suggest some heroin and a hit of LSD to go with it. The dope will ease the pain of impact when you slam into the bridge abuttment. The acid will help convince your brain that your leg is still attached and the bloody stump poking out of your chaps is a cruel hallucination.
Here endeth the lesson
English Don (Cycle freak) Thunder Press 1998