The beautiful summer and fall days mean more motorcyclist on the roadways of Wisconsin. Whether enjoying the back country road on a scenic tour or on the busy highways, this time of year means sharing the and the safety of the rider is the responsibility of both the motorcyclist and the other vehicles sharing the road. The truth is though that riding a motorcycle is more risky then driving a car. The reality is, a motorcycle crash is 30 times more likely to be fatal than as a motorist according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)
There are many riders who avoid accidents and enjoy their motorcycles without incident – this happens by following basic safety practices. Stay safe by following these rules of the road.
1 – Gear Up
Looking cool should not be your number priority on a motorcycle. Even if it is hot outside, summer apparel of shorts, t-shirts and sandals are not proper riding attire. Jeans are that protective against road rash. Choose leathers, reinforced jacket, pants and boots. Wear leather gloves to protect your hands as well.
If you select an open-faced helmet, goggles or glasses are a must. Never ride with out a DOT approved helmet. It is the most important selection in your protective gear and will help to keep you alive.
2 – Choose Comfort First
Your bike should fit you properly. Your feet should touch the ground when seated and the bike should not feel to heavy for you. You should be able to get on and off easily, and your handlebars should feel comfortable and easy to reach.
Comfort also means being comfortable with your route. The more familiar you are, the easier it will be for you to focus on your safety and not your navigation. Always ride at your own comfort level, don’t try to keep up with a group that is riding at a speed that is uncomfortable for you.
3 – Inspect Before You Ride
Look over your bike hitting the road. Things you should check out every time you get on your motorcycle include tire pressure, mirrors and lights. Taking a quick walk around to check if there are any loose bolts, leaks or other potential mechanical hazards.
Stay on top regular care and maintenance. Don’t delay fixing something that needs attention, conduct all recommended regular maintenance including oil changes, chain and suspension adjustments, and stay on top of brake pad and tire wear.
4 – Keep Your Eyes Open
Do not rely solely on your mirrors. While you need to use them, you need to be aware of what is in your immediate riding space. To keep cognizant of your surroundings and your position in relationship to those around you, you need to use your head.
Experienced riders know that it’s important to keep your head and eyes up while rounding corners and that the safest way to change lanes is to actually turn and look over your shoulder to make sure you are clear. You will also be able to get a feeling for whether other drivers are paying attention to you.
5 – Attention on the Road
Paying attention to the road you are riding on is a must. Always use caution when going into curves and turns, watch for potential gravel and potholes. You need to use caution when crossing railroad tracks, because the paint can be slippery, white lines at stoplights also can be.
6 – Ride Happy
Do not ride your motorcycle when you are not in the right frame of mind. Riding angry, drowsy or distracted can lead to an accident. Remember, when you’re on a motorcycle you are ultimately the only one on the road looking out for you. If your mind and thoughts are anywhere other than the road, you could easily make a mistake that could end in a crash, injuries or worse.
7 – Watch the Weather
Weather plays a huge factor for perfect driving conditions or dangerous conditions when you’re on two wheels. The lack of a windshield and your body’s exposure to driving rain add to the risk if you are caught in a storm.
Your visibility is completely impaired if you are caught on your bike in the rain. Pelting rain drops can be very painful when driving at 50 MPH, something you don’t want to have to experience.
8 – Sharing your Ride
You need to make sure you are comfortable with a passenger on the back of your bike and also make sure that your passenger knows how to do their part to make sure the ride stays safe. Be sure your passenger is also equipped with the right gear.
They need a helmet, protective clothing and the right shoes. You also need to make sure they know what to do when you turn corners or need to stop. It might be a good idea to take a test run together in a safe environment like a parking lot before hitting the open road or the stop-and-go of city traffic.
9 – Watch out for other Cyclist
Just because you’re on a motorcycle doesn’t make it any easier for you to see other motorcycles. Always double-check when changing lanes or turning. You also need to practice braking in all sorts of conditions.
To make sure that a quick stop won’t result in tragedy, always give extra space to the vehicles in front of you and know how to stop on a dime without locking your brakes.
10 – Share the Joy
When you are out riding, drive as if you are an ambassador for motorcyclists everywhere. By riding with courtesy, care and awareness, you are representing motorcycles for those around you. Always use your best judgment and remember the joy of riding, road rage with a truck or car on the road will only take away from
The bottom line for a safe day on your motorcycle is this: wear your gear, know your bike and know your abilities. You can’t control your environment but you can control how you react to it.