If You Ride A Bike, Please Forward This Article To Anyone Who Doesn’t
Riding a motorcycle puts you at risk, and that’s just the facts, Jack.
As infuriating as it might be at times, people driving their cars just don’t see you in the same way they see the other vehicles on the road.
Can you imagine pulling out in front of a semi-truck barreling down the road at you? Not a chance if you’re at all awake behind the wheel, but drivers regularly fail to see – and pull out in front of – motorcyclists. It’s how it goes, but as the driver of a car, it’s your duty and responsibility to watch out for the safety of all the people who use the roads.
With that in mind, here are a few things bikers would like you to consider the next time you drive your car:
- When a motorcycle is in motion, don’t think of it as motorcycle; think of it as a person – it is a person – and we all have families and friends we’d like to see at the end of the day…
- Maneuverability is one of a motorcycle’s better characteristics, especially at slower speeds and with good road conditions, but don’t expect a motorcyclist to always be able to correct your mistakes as a driver and get out of the way.
- Motorcyclists often adjust position within a lane to be seen more easily and to minimize the effects of road debris, passing vehicles, and wind. Motorcyclists adjust lane position for a purpose, not to be reckless or show off or to invite you to share the lane with them.
The Flip Side of the Car VS Motorcycle Equation
Should You Even Ride A Motorcycle?
Here are ten questions to ask yourself if you want to start riding, and granted, riding a motorcycle isn’t for everyone:
Are you more of a risk-taker than others you know?
If you tend to need a thrill behind the wheel of a car and have aggressive or risky tendencies while driving, motorcycling may not be for you. While motorcycling is a gas and provides a freedom it’s hard to find these days, for some people, it can lead to disaster. Thinking that accidents only happen to others will get you in trouble.
Can you ride a bicycle?
Sounds silly, but this is a prerequisite for enrolling in the Basic RiderCourse. The MSF says it’s generally a good gauge of your ability to handle a motorcycle. Motorcycling is a demanding physical activity which requires balance and coordination.
Can you drive a stick-shift car?
It’s not a requirement, but given the fact that almost all motorcycles have manual transmissions, it can’t hurt to know how. If you can’t get the hang of shifting gears in a car, you might want to consider riding a motor scooter. Scooters generally have automatic transmissions and come in sizes from 50cc to powerful – and motorcycle-like – 650cc models.
Do you have decent vision?
Riding a motorcycle requires crucial perceptual skills and good vision is critical. If you tend to see things that are far away later than other people you know or have problems with night vision, you might want to consider staying behind the wheel…
Are you good with a wrench?
Today’s motorcycles are reasonably reliable machines, but with all the bolts, nuts, and mechanisms on a bike and only two small tire patches connecting you to the road, you need to know how to inspect your equipment and make minor adjustments if anything gets out of whack. There’s no need to be a master mechanic, but it helps to know how to use a tire pressure gauge and a wrench.
Do you consider your own safety?
Do you routinely find yourself bandaged up after taking on do-it-yourself projects around the house, or think it’s acceptable to operate a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol? The unique challenges of motorcycle riding may not – to put it bluntly – be compatible with your standards of decision-making if you do. Riders can control their situation only if safety is a high priority. Millions of motorcyclists ride millions of miles without incident, and they most of them understand what they’re facing on the road…
Do you have the proper respect machinery and other equipment?
Do you maintain you machinery properly and use eye, ear and hand protection when the situation calls for them? If you’re not serious about safety in connection with simple machinery, you may not respect the difficulties of motorcycling enough. Successful riders know that safety isn’t a matter of luck, but a matter taking pains to minimize risk.
Can you focus on what you’re doing for long periods of time?
Inattention is a major cause of crashes. Motorcycling requires undivided attention to the immediate task at hand and constant awareness of everything going on in the 360 degrees surrounding you while you ride. Daydreaming in rush hour traffic on a motorcycle can get you flattened. If you find yourself overusing your brakes in your car because you were caught off-guard or you’re regularly surprised by a passing car or truck you didn’t see, your lack situational awareness is a danger to everyone.
Can you physically handle a motorcycle in an emergency?
It’s pretty rare that a driver has to brake hard or swerve violently to miss a crash, but you need those skills when the situation calls for them. While riding a motorcycle, having those skills is essential because other drivers tend not to see motorcyclists in traffic, especially around intersections.
Are you willing to invest some time in learning to ride correctly before riding long distances?
A Basic RiderCourse let’s you familiarize yourself with the operation of a motorcycle, and if you’re a more experienced rider, you can even take the course as an experiment to test your riding skills.