As the calendar flips to March, Daylight Savings Time is within sight, and the thermometer creeps above 50 degrees, thoughts of getting that motorcycle back on the road will turn to action. Before you fire up that bike for the first time, please take a minute to consider your safety practices. These safety tips could mean the difference bewteen coming home in one piece and not coming home at all.
We all know that riding a bike carries a few more risks than sitting behind the wheel of a car, but by applying a few simple strategies, we can reduce that risk significantly. I’m not here to preach; you’re going to do what you want anyway, and so you should. I’d just like you to do it safely.
1. BE VISIBLE
Wear bright clothing and a bright colored helmet, something that will draw attention to you and make you stand out. This gives the guy who is talking on his cell phone about last night’s game a better chance of seeing you. If all drivers were as vigilant as the average biker you wouldn’t have to take these measures, but they’re not. Always ride with your headlight on.
2. WEAR A DOT APPROVED HELMET
Sure, those skull cap helmets look cool, but would you want to be wearing one if your brain depended on it? Wear a properly certified, good fitting helmet and your chances of surviving a crash without brain damage will go up. As mentioned above, consider a light or bright color.
We have speed limits for a reason. Obey them, and your chances of coming home safely are increased. Need another reason? Not only will obeying speed limits get you home safely, but without speeding tickets you are also more likely to come home with your driver’s license and all your money in your pocket!
4. YOUR BIKE
Consider a tune up before the start of the cycling season to be sure that your motorcycle is in tip top shape. Check your oil, tires, chain and brakes. Immediately investigate any unusual noises.
As mentioned above, bright clothing is preferable, but I wasn’t referring to yellow gym shorts. Wear clothing that protects you from harm. You can never go wrong with leather. A good pair of gloves, especially during the early riding season, will help keep your skin where it belongs.
6. ALCOHOL AND DRUGS
It goes without saying that alcohol and drugs don’t mix with safe cycling, but it happens every year. Those are usually the bikers getting scraped up off the road. If you want to drink, take a cab. If you want to ride, drink soda. For everyone’s sake, please don’t mix the two.
7. RIDING AN UNFAMILIAR BIKE
If you bought a new bike in the off season, or are trying out a friend’s bike, take a little time to familiarize yourself with the handling before you get too carried away. Every bike is different, so even bikes of similar weight, size and style can handle differently.
8. AVOID RIDING TIRED
You need to have your full wits about you every second you are on your bike. You may not be able to nap on your bike on the side of the road the way you can in a car, but if your eyelids are feeling heavy, consider stopping for a cup of coffee and a walk.T
9. RIDING WITH A PASSENGER
Riding with a passenger can turn your beautiful-handling machine into a monster, especially if you’re not used to it. A passenger affects the balance, performance and handling of any bike. Take it easy until you get used to the way your bike handles with a passenger on the back. Also remember that every passenger is different; some will move and lean with you, while others will sit rigidly. Which kind of passenger they are will also affect the handling of your bike.
Your most important defense against a collision is your anticipation. Try to anticipate trouble before it happens. Ride as if you’re invisible and expect cars to pull out in front of you, so that when they do you are mentally prepared and have adopted a good road position and speed to handle it.
Thanks for reading, and ride safe!
Adam M. Gee, Esq.
NY and PA Personal Injury and Malpractice Attorney
The Ziff Law Firm, LLP
303 William Street
Elmira, NY 14901