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Filtering, a beginner's guide

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This was created from a couple of posts on Visordown when I asked for ideas to beat the traffic on a bike but not get killed in the process. Which is largely a good thing in my opinion.

1. Pick your route, the main drags into London aren't necessarily quickest. Traffic and traffic lights will slow you down so it's worth trying a few different routes even if it looks like more miles.

2. Bus lanes can be handy (look at the signs to see when you can ride in them), but watch out for traffic turning across you and beware of getting boxed in.

3. When passing traffic on the right, going wide can be good - sometimes there's good visibility on the other side of the white line and you can zip past loads of cars

4. Use the horn to warn lemming peds. Lots. Some of them have the Mobile Phone Of Invincibility so beware!

5. If in doubt, don't filter to the front of the queue at the lights. 2nd is ok and you can usually get past when the lights go green

6. Beware of diesel spills in buslanes. You can go through them if you have to, but make sure you're upright and don't need to brake.

7. If your bars will get through a gap, the rest of you will follow, no matter how fast you're going. If your bars are about to hit a car's mirror, pop the front wheel up - sails straight over the top. If your forks are a bit spongy you can also smack the front brakes on a bit sharp and they might duck under the mirrors. They might.

8. If the traffic is really bad, bear in mind that the car drivers are probably getting more and more frustrated and doing stupider things than usual. Expect u-turns or even people getting out so go wide and slow.

9. Wave thanks when (if) another vehicle lets you into a gap or gives way to you. Spread a little happiness, as the song goes.

10. If you are having an off day then slow down. It happens.

11. Look way ahead, scan up and down the road for hazards and opportunities,

12. Never sacrifice forward vision for textbook rear observations. However do keep an eye on the mirrors at least sometimes because there will always be someone faster than you. Know how rubbish your mirrors are though, I can only quote Ducati Pete here on the subject of sportsbike mirrors: he could have a elephant with a hard on about to rape him with minimal lube and still be thinking - "The seams on the inner arms of these leathers are quality"

13. Use every part of the road to your advantage. If you reeeally need to do something naughty like go to the right of a keep left sign, make sure pedestrians aren't going to step in front of you, there's no oncoming traffic and of course make sure you don't get caught.

14. Keep an eye on the road surface, especially on hatching up to traffic islands. It's where all the dirt and debris gets pushed to.

15. Don't take anything personally. Inner rage saps concentration. If you get cut up stupidly and are still on your bike, breathe deep and just carry on. It won't be the first time and won't be the last.

16. Develop the sixth sense to be able to effortlessly glide through those gaps that seconds ago others would have sworn were not there and milliseconds later have vanished as if they never existed. Eventually, you will see yourself, Zen like, from the eagle's eye, way above your mortal form. From here the true path presents itself as a blinding apparition. A parting of the waves of white vans and scooters.

17. Finally and perhaps most importantly, remember that filtering is dangerous, are you sure that it's worth it right now?

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  1. jenkins's Avatar
    Well said that man. I'd add that if you ride a large trailie or similar upright bike watch for your mirrors and those of transit vans. At least I think it was transit vans that I used to have a problem with on mine. It was a while ago and I've blocked it all out now! Also try and maintain a steady pace - fast, slow, fast, fast, slow breaks the rhythm.
  2. Mad Liz's Avatar
    You forgot (in point 7) that breathing in and squidging your shoulders will make any gap achievable!

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