The key takeaway should be that you have planned ahead. You are in 1st gear with hand on the clutch lever and an escape route already decided upon with enough space to the vehicle in front of you to execute your plan. Lane positioning is key as well. On two lanes in the same direction I always choose the outside of the lane.
There seem to be an endless number of video's on YouTube about motorcycles getting rear ended.
I know all about planning for the potential event, but I still don't think when the time comes in most situations you are going to be able to get out of the way of someone charging up behind you. You can have your clutch pulled in, bike in gear and be all set to go if needed ready to take off at a moments notice, but if you are dead stopped by the time reaction and perception take place the crash will have happened. You simply can't devote 100% of your "in traffic" attention to traffic coming up behind you. Much of this supposition is based on speed of the approaching vehicle and when you actually determine you have to get out of the way, but I have never talked to anyone that was actually able to perform this maneuver successfully.
It all sounds good on paper and perhaps worked in a controlled environment, but in the "real" world I don't think so. At 40 MPH a vehicle approaching from behind you is moving at almost 60 feet per second. At what point in that approach do you perceive it is a threat and decide to move out of the way and actually make that move? By my estimation you would have to make that move when that car is about oh 150' or more away to be able to pull it off if you have determined he is a threat to you. So does that mean that every time a car is 150' away you are going to bail out of the stopped position you are in?
I am not arguing that this plan to move isn't a good one, but don't bet your life on it and certainly don't swerve into an on-coming lane of traffic trying to avoid one crash only to have another. As one who has long preached the virtues of space being your best friend on a motorcycle, I think it is rare that one can simply move out of the way when stopped at an intersection in order to avoid being hit from the rear. I have also noticed a recent phenomenon taking place today where cage drivers who think they can't stop for something in front of them swerve left or right to avoid a crash regardless of what is in their way. If you decide to go left and the driver of the car approaching you from the rear decides to do the same now what? Ironically I have also noticed cage and motorcycle operators who notice my extra space between me and the vehicle in front of me decide that they would like to use that space to their advantage and simply pull into my living space I have created. So now all my planning goes out the window and I am left holding a bag of poop if something bad happens. Sometimes you just can't win.
... Much of this supposition is based on speed of the approaching vehicle and when you actually determine you have to get out of the way, but I have never talked to anyone that was actually able to perform this maneuver successfully. ...
I almost did. I was in a car (1985 Mercedes 300SD Diesel - very slow off the line) and saw a pickup truck coming up from behind and decided he was going too fast. I was able to pull forward by maybe 10 or 15 feet before he hit me. He did throw on his brakes and tried to stop, so the extra few feet made a big difference. If I had been on a motorcycle, I think I'd have avoided the hit.
On a bike, what would be even worse than getting hit from behind would be to get hit from behind and pinned to the car in front of me. That is why I stop so that I'm pointed at the gap to the side of the car in front, whichever side is wider.
Can't guarantee that it'd save my butt, of course, but I think it improves the odds.
As some have said, I'm aware of my "6" at a stop and if no one is behind me, as I see someone approach, I do flash my brake lights. If you are surprised by someone behind you, you are not paying close enough attention.
I would surmise that most rear end collisions are not from folks traveling at 40mph without braking but rather folks that were not paying close attention to their surroundings and came to the sudden realization they underestimated the distance needed to come to a complete stop. I suspect the experience of the OP and justcharlie are fairly common in that just a little bit more space and they would escape unscathed.
Sometimes you may not be able to get out of the way but, hopefully, you don't encounter any of those situations while you are out on the bike. Below is the worst case I have ever seen regarding getting rear ended.
After you watch the video a few times pay attention to the car in the middle lane as well as the other cars. No one seems to notice the traffic in the right lane is stopped ahead.