As all of the above
Ensure your mirrors are properly adjusted so that you can take regular snapshot rear obs, but don’t stare in them as Wise says!
The run down to the Blackwall is your hairiest part. If you are filtering and you see a gap in a lane: it’s there for a reason! Adjust your speed accordingly. Somebody is moving into it. Where there is one lane change, there is often another so don’t expect a Prius to change just the one lane at a time. These Uber drivers are very efficient, often saving indicator bulbs while they are at it.
The last sliproad merge toward northbound Blackwall is fraught with danger, the LCVs disguise merging motorcycles very well. Be aware that a fellow motorcyclist can occasionally just merge into your path with little warning. Try to recognise what is going on in lanes 1 and 2 as well as lanes 3 and 4 which you are filtering between. If you see a motorcyclist merging into lanes 2/3 they are going to end up in your channel. Use your horn to let them know you are there just in case they don’t look/view is obscured by a large vehicle. In fact, use your horn very frequently. Filtering round traffic lights, buses etc. It’s there for a reason. Please don’t be tempted to alert people to your presence by reving your bike. It sounds cooler but you limit your evasive options as you’ve just revved with clutch in. You dump that clutch you may well end up on your arse, and that’s just on a dry day.
When someone pulls into your path, try to stay calm with them. Quite often I’ll filter behind someone who clearly thinks their Gods gift. You will be able to recognise these riders because they seem to filtering at a hell of a lick but you’ll notice they are constantly on their brakes. They are only thinking one or two cars ahead and have no idea what they are doing. Let them go. These bikers are often caught out by a sudden lane change. You’ll see them get angry, rev the bike, smash a wing mirror and just generally embarrass themselves. This isn’t great for the rest of us as it tarnishes our reputation and honestly whenever I’ve been caught out, okay the driver in question has done something sketchy, but most of all I would have missed a warning sign.
Be mindful that when it’s dark, or there is a low sun behind you, it’s actually very difficult for drivers to see you in their mirrors. In some instances, it’s unfair to expect them to. In those instances filter in the mindset that nobody has seen you.
If you see a driver a few hundred yards up with poor lane discipline, they may well be on their phone, eating breakfast, doing their makeup, changing radio programme etc. Factor that in. Always look at cars and try to predict what risk a given car posses to you - you can then adjust your position accordingly to be slightly further from that vehicle.
Up until recently, I analysed cars with blind spot warning lights in their mirrors to be a lower risk profile but honestly I don’t think any of those drivers ever look and in traffic they seem to always be on so I don’t think they are actually much use for warning of a motorcyclists presence.
If the lights turn red or you come up to traffic you don’t think you’ll filter through don’t just stop in the middle of the back of a vehicle right up it’s arse. What happens when the Romanian lorry behind you is looking at the sat nav rather than the road and doesn’t see the red? Stop to the side or in between vehicles ALWAYS.
Sometimes, some clever Dick on bike will see that the traffic on the A2 is faster between lanes 1 and 2 than 2 and 3. As such he proceeds to undertake in between those lanes. Fine. But if you are sat in between lanes 2 and 3 while Dick is doing this, be aware that cars moving out of his way courteously in lane two will be moving into your path. Never, ever, ever, ride parallel or even close to parallel with a rider doing this - it will end badly for one of you
Foreign number plates. It’s a huge red flag. Look at number plates
Sat nav. Do they have a sat nav on? If I’m close enough, I’ll check they aren’t meant to be turning (although never make an assumption based on this, or anything else for that matter). They also probably don’t know where they are going so keep a wide berth, you can see a sat nav on in a car from quite some distance so it is an easy clue.
Said about gaps when filtering earlier. This is super important when in something like a bus lane and there is a junction on your left. It’s quite probably a car will turn across your path. A gap in the queueing vehicles in the normal driving lane might indicate that a car will be crossing you - look out for the absence of cars as well as the cars themselves!
That’s as much as I can think of for now but it is by no means an exhaustive list. Just when you think you’ve mastered every hazard there is, you’ll discover a new one
What are you riding? I come up through the blackwall tunnel on a black Yamaha TDM 900, with a silver aluminium top box at around 7.20-7.40. I’ll look out for you and give you a wave if I see you - I come in from deepest darkest Kent so I recognise a lot of the ‘regulars’ when out and about on my commute
Ride safe mate