You can ride your bike to every letter of law, but nothing is unavoidable. You can’t prevent an accident from happening, only minimize the risk of it happening. There’s risk involved with everything in life, even driving a car.
When it comes to riding a motorcycle on public streets, being safe will always be more beneficial than being skilled. Even MotoGP class racers will agree on this.
A lot of young riders get into the lifestyle thinking they’re invincible until life inevitably shows them that they’re not. Seeing my leg hanging from a muscle definitely made me aware of my own mortality, but I consider myself lucky because a lot of my riding brothers and sisters don’t ever get to wake up from a crash.
Riding safely on the street involves a deep understanding of traffic, psychology, and the driving forces of human behavior at large.
On the smaller scale, riders need to understand that they are on motorcycles, and a padded suit and helmet helps if you slide off your bike or make contact with a stationary object, but not if you end up under a minivan. Understand that drivers are human beings, and just like us, they will try to find shortcuts. Driving sucks, can you blame them? Identify when they will take those opportunities, and make sure you are clear of their path.
In the grand scheme of things, it’s useful to have some awareness of your geographical location, and the social dynamics at play. I live in San Jose, California. In the heart of the Silicon Valley, drivers here are aggressive, and more dangerously, in a hurry. People who are not in a hurry do not run red lights.
Motorcycles offer an unparalleled feeling of freedom, but it’s easy to forget that as a rider, you are at the mercy of traffic, you do not dictate it.