We’re coming up on May, which is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. It’s a subject that’s important to us at CMG, so we reached out a selection of riders from a wide range of backgrounds to get their safety tips — stuff that’s kept them in one piece on the streets. You just might learn something here.
Motorcycle safety czar
Raynald’s spent decades as a rider, and he also coordinates the Canada Safety Council’s motorcycling training program oversight, and is involved with several other motorcycle safety initiatives. He says you shouldn’t fire your bike up in the spring and go for an extended ride right away; there could be mechanical problems that only exhibit themselves when the bike is ridden.
“Now, I think that I would ride a shorter piece, and look at the bike again, to make sure things are okay.” This way, you can be sure that everything’s working properly before getting stranded, or worse, far from home.
Retired motojournalist, racer
“I was riding my Honda S90 to college when the cars in front of me stopped for a red light. I pulled up behind the last car, leaving maybe three-quarters of a car length in front of me of open space. I knew it was a long light so I was sitting in neutral, hands off the bars when I checked my mirrors. I saw a dump truck growing larger by the second, so I quickly snicked it into first and peeled off into the adjacent gas station just as the dump truck hit the car I was sitting behind. From that day onward, I always leave almost a car length between a stopped vehicle and myself, and I’m always checking the mirrors.”
Clinton’s got a whole story’s worth of safety information – he’s been studying motorcycle fatalities in Toronto for 20 years – but here’s one simple piece of advice that expands on Bondo’s theme of watching your tail at a stoplight. Clinton does that, leaving a bike length of space behind the vehicle he stops behind, “just in case you have to launch off and move up between cars to avoid being hit from behind.
“I also install an additional rear light from Admore lighting which enhances visible light for following vehicles.”
“Remember that you are expected to squeeze into any available space. If you don’t, the person behind you may run into you, expecting you to go.”
Retired motojournalist, racer
“Never over-ride your line of sight … always leave room to brake, and if you’re having fun riding on the street and are using your brakes for the corners, you’re riding too fast.”
Adventure tour guide, world traveler
René guides riders in South America, Africa and Mongolia, taking motorcyclists into unfamiliar areas and traffic patterns; he says it’s important to fit in to local driving habits.
“Be predictable. If cars are not stopping to let the dude cross the street, you don’t either. If you stop to let him cross, you are going to confuse the cars behind you, the cars in front of you, and the dude.”
“Practice your skills! Especially in the spring, but also throughout the season. Make an effort to regularly find a safe area where you can work on emergency stops and swerves, collision avoidance, cornering skills, push steering, and generally getting to know your bike, its quirks, and its limits.”
Motojournalist, racer, riding instructor
“Use your eyes wisely; always look far ahead, do not fixate on any one item. If you’re following cars, look through their windows at what’s ahead; look over the roof. Use your eyes to recognize and understand what’s going on all around you, be situationally aware all the time.”
CMG’s new guy
“One situation that I have found myself in more than once is an oncoming car not only turning left in front of me, but making a full U-turn, thereby entering the lanes in the same direction, not just passing through the intersection. This can be even more dangerous, since the car now takes up one of the escape routes the motorcyclist may have attempted to use to avoid the turning car. ”
Retired dealership owner, riding instructor, adventure rider
Potholes are one of the worst hazards that Canadian riders regularly face. Frank Simon’s battled them coast to coast in Canada for decades, and says you should tackle them aggressively for best results.
“The secret to potholes is to move your weight back slightly, put yourself to the rear, where you have very good throttle response, and skim over them as fast as you can, or as the speed limit allows.”
Iron Butt Rally rider
Wolfe is a guy who puts down big mileage on long distance rallies, including the Iron Butt Rally, so he’s got a lot of tricks to stay safe. He says he’s very careful to avoid getting stuck behind transport trucks on the highway; even though many riders think this makes them safer, he says it’s actually quite dangerous, because trucks obscure upcoming dangers.
“They don’t swerve for debris, and when you’re tucked in behind them, you can’t see that debris until it’s too late. So that’s something I try to avoid, getting tucked in behind a tractor-trailer on the highway.”
Do you have some advice of your own to share? Let us all know in the comments below.