It's finally the end of April and we can see riding season from here. May is the month when those of us living in colder climes are climbing out onto our bikes for the first time in too long a time. It could be why this is the chosen time to remind riders and drivers both to keep our eyes open for one another.
Before launching into a bunch of reminders about how to stay safe or how much more likely we motorcyclists are to die in a collision, let’s remind ourselves that we ride because it’s so much fun, and that the spring, summer, and fall are packed full of incredible opportunities to safely enjoy the sport with fellow riders, friends, or just on our own.
In the month of May in particular, look out for motorcycle safety events in your area. Some of these are rides that promote visibility, others are geared toward skills enhancement. All of them will help make you a better rider. For example, two years ago, I decided to upgrade my moto-license, which meant that I had to review, practice, and demonstrate all the rules of the road. What were some of the best tips, you ask? So glad you have.
After a day with an experienced instructor I was reminded of the importance of the following:
- Leave lots of space between you and the driver in front both while you’re riding and while you’re waiting. This gives you more space to evade the drive that you suddenly notice is headed right where you are as though you aren’t there. You saw this because you always….
- Watch your side mirrors—even when you’re stopped. Someone hit our car from behind just yesterday. He thought the advance green was for him, ‘cept we were all still waiting for our light. Well, not all of us, clearly; great reminder to watch for distracted drivers.
- Wear all your gear, all the time, even when it’s damn hot. Nothing is as warm as third degree burns on your whole body, and nothing ruins a riding season like broken limbs.
Fact is, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA), as the number of motorcycle riders increases (yay!) so do the instances of fatal motorcycle crashes (boo!), 37 percent of which involve alcohol! Drinking and riding? Duh. Aside from giving you an over-inflated sense of your abilities, alcohol impairs both your balance and response time, the two things that you most need to stay safe. Drugs are also a bad idea on a bike, but the statistics are difficult to gather, so in the meantime, err on the side of “no.” After all, isn’t riding the only high you need?
Choosing to participate in a sport that has elevated levels of risk is not what we need to avoid, we need to avoid our own mistakes and drivers who make them. So, during this, the month when we’re paying a little more attention, do that. Don’t complain about what people do, watch out for them while you do everything right. #BeSeen #BeSafe