Here are 10 simple ideas that you may want to try to become a safer rider:
- Assume Drivers Can’t See You: Ride assuming that you and your motorcycle are totally invisible to motorists. That means you must never assume that drivers can see you. The odds are, they can’t so believe it yourself and always have an “out” for dangerous traffic situations.
- Maintain Safe Spacing: Leave plenty of space in front and back and to the sides from all other vehicles. Be an island. Stay away from traffic as much as possible. This gives you more visibility and more time to react to situations.
- Anticipate Trouble: Anticipate trouble situations and know what to do when you see them. Analyze what vehicles are doing and try to predict the outcome. Then make sure you’re ready to avoid a bad traffic situation
- Beware of Oncoming Left Turners: Beware of oncoming motorists turning left in front of you at intersections. This is the leading cause of death of motorcycle riders. I’m deadly serious here. I have personally lost many friends to this accident. If you only remember one tip here, let it be this one. Slow down before you enter an intersection. Have an escape route planned. Stay visible. Don’t travel too close to cars in front of you. Position your bike so the left turner can see it. Eye contact is not enough.
- Your Own Ride: Don’t try to keep up with your friends who may be more experienced. Know your personal limits. Ride your own ride.
- Watch Out for Curves: Beware of taking curves that you can’t see around. A parked truck or a patch of sand may be awaiting you.
- Don’t Give In to Road Rage: Do not give in to road rage and try to “get even” with another rider or motorist. If you follow these tips, most likely you won’t fall victim to road rage. It’s better to calm down, slow down, and collect your thoughts first. Then continue on and enjoy the ride. That’s what we’re all out there for in the first place.
- Don’t allow Tailgating: If someone is tailgating you, either speed up to open more space or pull over and let them pass. Life is too short. Remember that a bike can stop faster than a car so you don’t want a truck on your tail when you find yourself trying to brake to avoid an accident. Also, don’t tailgate the vehicle in front of you. Oncoming drivers can’t see you.
- Don’t Be Blinded by Sunglare: Beware of riding your motorcycle into sun glare. All it takes is turning a corner and finding the sun either directly in your face or passing straight through your windshield. Some helmets have shields to block the sun. Face shields help somewhat. But sometimes you just find yourself blinded by the light. Slow down, pull over, shield your eyes and look for a way to change direction.
- Avoid Riding at Night: Avoid riding at night, especially late Saturday night and early Sunday when drunken drivers may be on the road. It goes without saying that you shouldn’t drink and ride. Going bar hopping? Leave the bike at home and find a designated driver.
Here are 17 simple tips to ensure everyone in the group has a safe ride:
- The first thing you want to do is organize the ride. This can be as informal as standing around in a parking lot, or as complicated as a special meeting to hand out maps and cellphone numbers.
- Remember that riding in a group does not mean you surrender any decision making when it comes to your safety. Ride your own ride, and don’t go any faster than you feel comfortable going.
- When picking your route and the stops you’ll make along it, consider the stamina of the group, the experience of all the riders, and the limits of the motorcycles in the group. Remember, these are your friends. If it’s going to be a long ride, be sure to have a few break stops along the way.
- You’ll need to communicate while on the ride, so make sure everyone knows the signals you’ll use.
Hand Signal Chart
- When creating your formation, it’s wise to have your experienced riders at the lead and running sweep. Consider positioning the less experienced riders immediately behind the leader. This allows the front rider to adjust the pace if necessary.
- Ideally, the sweep rider will have a cellphone to call for help if a motorcycle is disabled, or if there has been an accident.
- If the goal of the ride is to keep the group together, the leader should only go at the pace of the least experienced rider.
- While riding, don’t fixate on the motorcycle in front of you. Instead, remember your basic training. Look well through the turn to where you want to go.
- If the group is riding faster than you are comfortable with, let the sweep rider know you’re dropping out and ride at your own pace. So you may reach your destination a few seconds behind the others, but you will get there, and that’s what’s important. Keep in mind, it’s all about fun.
- All riders are also responsible for making sure their motorcycles are mechanically up to the task. Before you even meet up with the group, make sure you’ve got plenty of fuel in the tank, and you’ve taken care of all those maintenance issues. Not sure what to check? Use T-CLOCK. You really don’t want to be the reason for stopping the group for something mechanical you could have prevented.
- If it’s going to be a large group, consider establishing a buddy system among the riders, or divide the group into smaller five- or seven-rider packs. That way, if something goes wrong, you don’t have 25 motorcycles sitting on the side of a busy highway. Also, smaller groups can more easily navigate through city streets.
- On the road, motorcyclists should have at least a 2-second cushion in front and behind them. If you want to keep the group tight, consider a staggered formation. Leave enough room per lane so each rider can maneuver side-to-side if need be. Avoid side-by-side formations as they shrink your space cushion.
- Trikes and sidecars should stay in the center of the lane, and should be given the same amount of cushion as if they were a car.
- As turns get sharper, or as visibility decreases, move back to a single file formation. You’ll also want to use single file when entering or exiting a highway, at toll booths, or when roads have a rough or questionable surface.
- At intersections where you’ve come to a stop, tighten the formation to side-by-side to take up less space. As the light turns green, or when traffic opens up, the bike on the left proceeds through first.
- Remember we share the road with many other vehicles, and it’s against the law to block an intersection.
- When parking, try to get the group off the roadway as quickly as possible. If you can, arrange in advance to have pull-through parking at your destination, or at the very least, make sure there is ample parking for your size group.