As bikers, we accept certain risks every time we get on our bike, but most bikers work hard to minimize the risks that are within our control. We ride safe, check our equipment, wear All The Gear, All The Time, and never ride tired or impaired.
But not everyone is like us. There are bikers out there who seem oblivious to risk. I’m not talking about stunters or track day riders who push their limits in a controlled environment, I’m talking about squids. We all know a squid or two – the guy who shows up for a ride in shorts, a tank top and flip flops, who rides on a bald tire all season, or who rides beyond his skill level. We sometimes think they are an accident waiting to happen. Are these squids really meant to be a biker? Is there a way to tell whether a person should even take up motorcycling?
The Motorcycle Safety Foundation has an eye-opening checklist, Quick Tips: “Should You Ride a Motorcycle?” that asks a lot of probing, unusual questions to see if YOU are right for motorcycling instead of the other way around.
I hadn’t really thought about it in this way before. I can urge people to be safety minded, to take care of their bikes mechanically, to have the patience and focus to be safe and skilled bikers – but what if you know right from the start that these aren’t your strong points? That’s what the MSF questionnaire does – it asks you to examine your own traits and think about if you would be a good motorcyclist.
There are 10 questions on the MSF quiz:
1. Are you a higher risk-taker than others you know?
2. Can you ride a bicycle?
3. Can you drive a stick-shift car?
4. Do you see well?
5. Are you mechanically inclined?
6. Are you safety-minded?
7. Do you respect machinery and other equipment that has risk?
8. Can you focus?
9. Can you handle your car in an emergency?
10. Are you willing to invest some time in learning to ride the right way before hopping on a bike?
Each question then goes into greater detail – explaining how the skill or trait ties into being a good motorcyclist.
If you think you may need some help developing safe riding skills and habits, there are resources available to us. The MSF endorses Rider Courses offered across the country. Check the New York State Motorcyclist Safety Program website or the Pennsylvania Motorcycle Safety Program website to find a course in the area, or you can call the national MSF at (800) 446-9227.
I think this test goes too far in attempting to predict who will and will not be a safe biker. People’s habits and attitudes can change with age and maturity or by life experience. Maybe today’s squid can be tomorrow’s safe biker. Its amazing what getting up close and personal with a guardrail or ditch will do to someone’s aggressive riding habits. And a job, marriage and kids can have the same affect.
In the meantime, give those squids some extra room, but also give them an encouraging word. Set a good example and hopefully they will follow your lead.
Thanks for reading.
ZiffLaw Attorney, Esq.
NY and PA Motorcycle Attorney
The Ziff Law Firm, LLP
303 William Street
Elmira, NY 14901