May is Motorcycle Awareness Month – How to Help Raise Awareness {Guest Post by Michael Morris}

Posted: May 15, 2017 in Motorcycle advocacy, Motorcycle Rides, motorcycle safety
Tags: ,

safety

Spring has sprung across the world (in the northern hemisphere), and riders are starting to come back out in force.  Despite my near-debilitating seasonal allergies this is one of my favorite times of year!  Nothing gets me psyched up like the first Sunday that it’s warm enough to ride after winter where I’m pretty sure every person that owns a motorcycle where I live is out!  (Side note:  motorcycles are out in much greater numbers on Sunday compared to Saturday around me, is that true for anyone else?)  The strong sense of community, camaraderie, and kinship I feel on a warm (or at least not cold!) spring day is part of why I love riding so much.

But motorcycling isn’t all sunshine and rainbows.  As we all come out of our winter cocoons to spread our wings on the road, it is important to remember that motorcycling is not without its fair share of danger.  In many parts of the world, four-wheeled motorists still are not properly trained to accommodate us on the road.

TIPS FOR YOU TO KEEP YOURSELF SAFE

Make Sure Your Bike is Properly Maintained

I will probably do a whole post just on this in the future, but motorcycle maintenance is much more frequent than cars and very, very important.  I’m only going to touch on two items today as I feel they are the most overlooked maintenance tasks, and they both pertain to your chain.

Maintain your chain!  That’s a refrain I’ve heard across the internet in regards to proper bike maintenance.  Chain-driven bikes are the single most common type of bike, and the chain is pivotal in making everything work, yet so many people neglect to take care of it.  If you don’t properly care for your chain you could one day find yourself riding down the road on a sunny afternoon one minute and on the ground the next because your chain jumped off the rear sprocket and locked up the bike.  This is a worst-case scenario, but it does happen.  Here are two simple tasks you can perform to help prevent that:

Regularly monitor your chain’s slack.  Slack allows your motorcycle’s chain to adjust as your back wheel bounces up and down on the road.  Every motorcycle has a recommended chain slack, and it’s usually even printed on the bike’s swing arm (if you have a swing arm bike) or somewhere else near the chain.  You want to keep your bike’s chain slack within the manufacturer recommended specifications so your chain has enough slack to adjust as needed, but not so much that it can fly off the sprocket.

Lube your chain.  I’ve heard many people say “I lube my chain and change my oil at the start of every season” not realizing that while that’s fine for your oil, chains need to be lubed much more frequently.  Most manufacturers I’ve seen recommend lubing your chain every 500 miles, but the usual common accepted practice among owners is about 500-1000 miles.  I commute 450 miles a week for work, so I just lube my chain every weekend regardless.  It takes 5 minutes and could save your life.  Finally, lube your chain EVERY TIME after you ride in the rain.  That’s right, every time, even if you just lubed it before riding that day.  Rain cleans your bike, but it also washes all of that sweet, sweet lube right off the chain!

Wear A Helmet

I personally am an ATGATT type of guy, but I get that some people don’t want to go through the trouble of putting on special pants, boots, gloves, and a jacket every time they go out to ride.  Motorcycling is about managing acceptable risk after all.  One thing that I try my hardest to convince every rider that I meet to do, though, is wear a helmet.  Broken limbs can heal, shorn skin can grow back, but a crushed skull is often motorcycle-helmet-after-accidentpretty permanent.  Once again, I intend to do a whole post on the topic of helmets, but for now I want to leave you with this one thought:

A friend once told me “You buy a $40 helmet for a $40 head, and a $400 helmet for a $400 head.”  I really like this, it makes a lot of sense.  What’s not said is you’re unique and regardless of what you think your head is worth, it’s worth so much more to someone else out there somewhere that cares about you.  Every head is at least a $400 head, please protect it.

Pretend You’re Invisible

I feel this too has been said a lot, but it cannot be stressed enough.  In a fight between a bike and a car / truck / whatever, the bike will lose.  Every time.  While it’s important for other motorists to look out for us, we also need to be looking out for ourselves.  Be proactive, before passing someone consider the likelihood of them wanting to get into your lane assafety you pass.  Assume that they won’t see you when they consider their lane switch.  And in this specific example, if there’s one thing I’ve learned about passing other motorists, do it QUICKLY.  Motorcycles are in part about speed.  Speed is fun.  Speed can also be a lifesaving tool if used appropriately.

A note specific to intersections:  intersections are the most deadly place for motorcyclists.  That person in the SUV crossing the other way may have looked you dead in the eye from your perspective, but odds are good they didn’t even see you.  They’re not trained to.  Proceed into intersections with the utmost caution; make sure you are aware of every car within visible distance of the intersection.  And only proceed through once you’re 100% sure no one is going to cut you off, and do it QUICKLY (see the theme here?)

So those are just a few quick tips to stay safe throughout the riding season, but wait I thought this post was about Motorcycle Awareness Month?  That is a very astute observation, and absolutely correct!  Which brings me to the second part of this post…

Put a “WATCH FOR MOTORCYCLES” Decal on Your Car

Bumper stickers and decals are annoying, I get it, but how many random things have you gotten stuck in your head because you were stuck behind someone with one at a stop light?  If you ride a motorcycle you owe it to yourself to put one of these on your car.  This is one decal that could actually save a life.  In the United States, the MSF gives out these stickers pretty often at the end of their courses, (that’s how I got mine) but if you don’t want to go through that, and don’t want to go through the hassle of looking up where to find one, here’s a couple direct Amazon links to both a high-visibility one depicting a cruiser and a standard black and white one featuring a sport bike.  I recommend getting the high-vis, but if you are the type of person who absolutely can’t stand the idea of having a cruiser stuck on your car, I understand.

Talk to Non-Riders About Riding

Depending on who you are this may either be a no-brainer or easier said than done.  Motorcycle awareness starts with you and the people around you.  For some non-riders talking about riding could be difficult as the fact that you ride worries them, and thinking about it makes it worse.  I am writing this tip for those types of people in your life.  Do your best to let them know that if they truly worry, then the best thing they can do is talk with you about it, and learn better how to share the road with motorcyclists.  Every non-rider that listens and learns is a step toward a safer world for motorcyclists.  With any luck that one person will then educate other people when the topic inevitably comes up among four-wheel motorists every Spring.

This second part is specifically for those of you with kids.  I used to always play a game with my friends called “Yellow Car”, which, as you might expect, is played by saying, “yellow car!” before anyone else when you see a yellow-colored car.  As a kid on long trips, my family would try to find as many different states’ license plates as we could before getting to our destination.  These games are silly, but they also teach very important observation skills.  For example, I can spot yellow cars in my sleep now.  So when you’re on the road with kids, play “Motorcycle” where the first person to yell (or say, but it usually turns into excited yelling) “Motorcycle!” as one goes by gets a point!  This will not only keep them entertained, but will teach them a very important skill once they grow up and become licensed drivers:  they’ll be able to spot a motorcycle from a mile away.

Join SyncRIDE

SyncRIDE is actually the inspiration for this whole article!  EatSleepRIDE is hosting SyncRIDE on May 27th to raise motorcycle awareness.  It’s a worldwide synchronized ride. No matter where you are at 10 AM EDT, just turn on your EatSleepRIDE app, (if you have a smartphone) and go for a ride with thousands of other riders!  As long as they continue it next year, I foresee SyncRIDE becoming a annual event for riders with the ability to create some real awareness.

And if you live in the Lancaster, PA area, hit me up at readysetmoto@gmail.com!  I’m trying to coordinate a group ride around here for the event as well!

What other things do you think we as riders can do to raise awareness and create safer motorways?  Let me know in the comments!

 

Michael Morris is a motorcycle enthusiast living in the middle of Amish Country Pennsylvania.  He runs and owns the motorcycle blog and news site www.ReadySetMoto.com.  When not working on his blog, he loves to interact with fellow motorcyclists on Twitter (@ReadySetMoto) and Facebook (facebook.com/Ready-Set-Moto) as well so drop him a line!

Comments
  1. Thanks for this post. It’s definitely something that every rider, even the well travelled ones, should read.

    I agree on you with you that Sundays are the days riders are most active. Even during the winter months here in South Africa.

    I do however wish to make an observation regarding the bumper stickers that you have mentioned in the post. The roads here are filled with cars that have “think bike” stickers on them. However, in my personal experience, its the drivers with these stickers that are the most inconsiderate. I hope this is not true elsewhere.

    Stay safe and enjoy the journey.

    • ReadySetMoto says:

      Glad you liked it! That’s a huge bummer about the people with think bike stickers where you live :(. Hopefully they’re still helping other people remember to keep an eye out though!

      Side note: cool blog! Consider it bookmarked :).

  2. Thanks for including the SyncRIDE in your announcements. We are hoping to see a record number of riders out on the road to celebrate and advocate. #syncride #watchformotorcycles

    • ReadySetMoto says:

      No problem! I think it’s really cool what you’re doing and I hope we get that world record!

  3. […]  Check out last week’s feature article on Motorcycle Awareness Month (featured also on IJustWant2Ride) for a general idea of what to expect.  Second, you can expect news articles posted throughout the […]

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