Motorcycle Riding Safety Tips And Techniques
Riding a motorcycle is different from driving a car. While we may share the same roads, there are several rules of the road specifically designed for the safety of motorcycle riders that everyone should be aware of and follow. These include spacing between vehicles and motorcycles and visual awareness. However, as a motorcyclist, there are many hidden dangers lurking on the highways that you should know are out there. Motorcycle riding safety is a life and death issue and if taken seriously, you will live to enjoy riding for many years.
First and foremost: make sure you can be seen. Motorists are used to large bulky vehicles. A motorcycle can blend into scenery for motorists or be lost in blind spots. Make sure you have colors either in your clothing, helmet or your bike. Make sure you have head lights AND tail lights that are working and use them. They are the first point of vision for other motorists. You may be a perfectly safe motorcyclist, but if a motorist who crosses your path isn't, then you will be the one getting hurt. There are LED lights to accent motorcycles with that come in various colors. They can be amazingly bright and help with your ability to be seen by others. They also have been found to enhance your "cool" factor. They are easy to add to any motorcycle and are not outrageously expensive. Main point is BE VISIBLE!
Wear A Helmet
Our home state does not require motorcyclists to wear helmets over a certain age. In my opinion, that is foolish! If a motorcyclist has on a helmet, they reduce their risk for serious injury by 37%. That's not a guarantee, but every little bit counts. Any accident which involves speed of any kind leaves a risk for injury. A head injury is the most dangerous type. A helmet can be the thing that keeps you alive. Like a child's car seat, do not reuse helmets which have been in an accident. An accident reduces its ability to protect in the manner it is designed. Look for one that has a neck support and full padding. For comfort there are helmets designed with air vents and even tinted face shields to help keep out the sun's glare. Make sure it fits correctly. Try on several until you find the brand and fit that is best for you.
Know Your Place And Your Space
A motorcycle may not take up very much space, but it still needs as much space as any other car or truck. When a motorcycle goes down, it puts a person on the road. Cars should allow plenty of room to stop and make sure you are watchful of the motorcycle near you. Motorcyclists should always be aware of the cars around them. A car may not be aware that you are there and may cut you off without even knowing it. Being aware will allow opportunity for evasive movements and may save your life. Motorcyclists ride offset of each other to allow room for each bike to move without affecting the other. Motorcyclists often take curves different from cars, some pull wide and lean, some hold tight to the curve and lean low. Having ample room between bikes allows for safe curves and prevents dragging. The biker may reach out and touch the road in a tight curve, or may put their foot out to help stabilize the bike in the curve. A bit of debris on the road can be dangerous and they must have the space to avoid it. If you are behind a cyclist for long, you will notice things like they will kick out their leg from time to time. This movement is actually a "flagging" that they do to point out debris on the road to their fellow travelers. It is a courtesy they share for safety. Be aware and allow space enough for them to see debris and maintain safety. We motorists take so much for granted!
Be Aware of Weather and Road Conditions
It is more important for motorcyclists to be aware of weather and road conditions than it is for drivers of any other vehicle. The weather can affect road conditions in a moment and cause a motorcycle to hurtle out of control! A road which has been well traveled and dry becomes an oil slick in a light shower. The rain causes the oil to float and become a danger to motorcyclists. A watchful rider has no trouble keeping control as they can adjust their speed and the path they ride on a particular road. A light layer of hail is like rolling on marbles and a patch of ice....well....not a pretty sight! Sometimes a motorcyclist can avoid riding on these weather days, but its not totally practical to assume that the weather will always co-operate! Weather happens! Do your best to plan ahead.
Extreme heat can be as dangerous as extreme cold. While skimming a curve, a motorcylcle peg can become implanted into asphalt softened by extreme heat, causing the bike to stop cold and throw the rider! In addition, the state of the tires can be changed by the temperatures as well. A hard, cold tire will not hug the curves until it warms. A hot tire can roll. Again, be aware of weather and road conditions.
Wrapping It All Up
In reflection, it is just as important for motorists to be aware of cyclists as it is for cyclists to be aware of the road and weather. We are all responsible for the safety of cyclists. Most of them are out there to enjoy the road, the scenery and the fresh air. The freedom of the open road need not come at the cost of safety. Take a moment and be aware of your surroundings and your fellow travelers! Who knows - you may one day choose to take up riding open on a motorcycle too! In the meantime, thanks for watching out for cyclists - you may pass my son while he's out riding! Although, it will probably be him passing you! Let's just say, he rides like his Mom drives!