Today is the first day of Motorcycle Awareness Month, and this is a bigger deal in Canada than most places – we’re coming out of a long winter, and many of us will be rusty on our bikes in May.
All of us who’ve ridden for at least a season have picked up some little-thought-of riding tips or knowledge, sometimes the hard way, and now is the time to share it with everyone. I’m not thinking of the big swoops of sage advice that crusty old guys like to pass along, like the “ride as if everyone’s out to get you” stuff, but the little things that add up to make all the difference.
Here’s one: When you’re stopped at night behind a car, and you see in your mirrors that another vehicle is approaching from behind, then squeeze your brake lever a couple of times. This will make your bike’s flashing tail light stand out from the tail lights of the car in front. If the driver behind isn’t concentrating, he might think your light is from the car in front, and he won’t factor in you being there. Crunch!
Here’s another: When you’re riding on a two-lane highway, and you’re alone in your lane, and you’re sitting in the correct position just to the left of the centre (to claim the entire lane, and also avoid the oily centre patch) – if a line of traffic approaches up ahead, then move over a little to the right of your lane. This won’t give the oncoming traffic enough space to overtake into your lane, but it will make sure that oncoming drivers can see you. If you’re too far to the left in the lane, you could be hidden by the traffic they’re following. Ouch!
There are loads of snippets like this, and they all add up to greater than the sum of their parts. Just one could make all the difference one day, and the secret is to practice, practice, practice so that these all become second nature. When you can act without thinking, then you’ll be way ahead.
This week, we asked a bunch of people who know what they’re talking about to pass along some of their advice, and you can read it here. But don’t stop at this. There’s smart advice in books and elsewhere on the internet, and if you want to be both a better and a safer rider, you’ll seek it out and absorb it.
After all, that stuff that’s learned the hard way? Sometimes, those riders don’t get a second chance. You don’t have to be one of them, and while there will always be freak accidents no matter what you do, you can swing the odds waaay into your favour with a bit of thoughtful preparation.
Do you have some advice of your own? Leave it in the comments of our story. We really want to know about it.