Laurie Montoya, President, and Founder BikerDown Foundation
It can be hard sometimes to discuss the topic of riders taking additional motorcycle safety training classes when the driving community isn’t required to do the same. You get your driver’s license at 16 or 17, and that’s it. The bad habits you pick up as a driver never get corrected unless you get tickets or citations for reckless driving etc. 65% of drivers collide with our motorcycle community and cause unimaginable damage to the rider and their bike.
However, as a rider, I know I have to do everything I can to keep myself safer on the road, and if that means subjecting myself to some additional training, then I think it is worth it to arrive safe at home and to my family. I have added higher insurance coverage and purchased better safety gear because we don’t have 6 airbags to protect us after an accident.
Riding in traffic is a topic that isn’t discussed a lot. Riders pull up to an intersection, stop and if you are like me, put the bike in neutral and take a moment to relax. Recently at a stop light, it occurred to me, “where are you going to go, dumb ass? This guy was not only extremely close to me but was also way over on the right side of the lane, practically up against the curb. What is my exit strategy if some clown in their truck or car doesn’t notice you and decides to get up nice and snug?
I felt like telling him to back the hell off and use better lane positioning at traffic lights. I always grin when riding with my husband, how he looks back at a rider that is too close, and they seem to understand his look and not get any closer.
It’s tough enough to be seen on a bike, don’t make it harder by hiding yourself where a car driver isn’t likely to look. Then I thought some more about coming to a stop at a traffic light, and here are my thoughts:
- I have had a driver start to back up on me when they realize they have stopped in the pedestrian cross walk and try to back up so that people can walk? Am I in a good position? Can I be seen by the driver in front in their rearview mirror and by drivers behind more easily?
- Do you ride bumpers as that guy does? Or do you give yourself an escape route in case you need one for whatever reason, and Lord knows there’s plenty?
- Do you keep watching your mirrors to see if you need to make your getaway? It’s a good idea to keep an eye on what’s happening all around you, especially when you’re stopped and a sitting duck.
- Do you keep your bike in gear? This one is a hard one for me because I like having that few minutes to reset myself and take a break from riding. When you are at an intersection, stopped, you should be able to take a break. It’s much easier to save yourself when you are already to roll than when your bike is in neutral.
Bikers have rights to the road, the same rights as drivers, and at times these tips may seem unfair, but I look. The epidemic of injured riders nationwide bubbles to the surface the need of us as riders to do whatever we can to ensure that we make it home safe. Distracted driving kills motorcycle riders and pedestrians,
In the words of the band “The Police”, the song, “Don’t stop so close to me.” Ride Safe out There!