Today, my crew and I rode about 150 miles, about half and half between freeway and city riding. It was a skill-building day, as there were many events that tested my ability as a rider and also tested my fortitude as a socially acceptable person. Had I been a brand new rider today, it might have been more of a bone-setting day rather than a skill-building day.
Face it: people aren't looking for motorcycles on the road with them, despite the fact that there are thousands of us out there. Car drivers are looking for other CARS. Car drivers are focused on where they want to go and not on who is sharing the road. Car drivers assume that the other folks on the road are as stable, protected, and practically anonymous as they themselves are. Car drivers don't always look both ways at intersections, and often start moving through the intersection before they've even looked ONE way. Car drivers don't always know where they are going and may brake erractically, change lanes often and without warning, or suddenly stop altogether. Car drivers sometimes are so fucused on making that left hand turn before the light changes that they don't notice the motorcycle traveling the opposite direction until they actually broadside it. Car drivers honk their horns for no apparent reason. Car drivers throw things out of their windows. Car drivers change lanes without signalling and cut across four lanes of traffic at 80 miles per hour because they realized they've passed their exit.
The Event of the Day today was random and sudden stopping. In a three-hour ride, four cars stopped suddenly right in front of me, each time while I had another rider directly to my left. For new riders, the REALLY important thing to remember in these situations is without power, a motorcycle has no traction. If a rider panics, pulls in the clutch and hits the brakes (probably locking up the rear wheel in panic), there is no traction whatsoever available to actually avoid a collision. 70% of a motorcycle's stopping power comes from the front brake. USE IT. Slow yourself as quickly as possible, downshift appropriately (you'll stall if you don't and then you have the same problem - no power), and SWERVE if still necessary. Power = traction and traction = stability.
Quick-stops are something easily practiced in a nearby parking lot. It's worth the time to practice this skill regularly... I guarantee you'll use it.