Guest Author - Nancy Brotherton
Riding a motorcycle is exhilarating, enjoyable, and somewhat more dangerous than driving a car where you are protected by a cage and have four wheels; however, crossing a street can be just as dangerous depending on the circumstances. For example, when you cross a street, you look both ways and try to use a crosswalk. When riding a motorcycle you should take the necessary precautions such as keeping your riding skills polished, wearing protective gear suitable for riding conditions, keeping your motorcycle in top mechanical condition, and being aware of your surroundings and possible threats.
To begin with, I strongly recommend taking a State certified motorcycle safety course, such as the Basic Rider Course (BRC) provided by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) for beginners or the Experienced Riders Course (ERC) for more experienced riders who have at least 3,000 miles on their bikes. I recommend taking the ERC annually to keep your skills up to date. Remember, learning what to do such as a quick stop again and again, becomes habit and it becomes automatics when you need it. You also get some added benefits besides lifesaving maneuvers, such as doing a u turn or figure eight with your motorcycle in a parking spot (very cool).
The MSF BRC training provides instruction in riding etiquette, riding gear, and differences in styles of motorcycles. The BRC also goes over the SEE technique, which in a nutshell is to Search ahead, Evaluate your surroundings, and then Execute your plan. This is a great skill and is essential in any types of riding. Some insurance companies will give you a discount on your motorcycle insurance when you complete the MSF courses. Information can be obtained about MSF training by visiting the motorcycle training link below or by calling (800)-446-9227.
I can never say enough about wearing the proper gear when riding. It isn't if you will have a spill, it is when you will have a spill. I have seen so many parking lot spills where the rider has skinned hands or elbows, when all they had to do was wear the proper gear and they wouldn't have had a scratch. If that happens in a parking lot at low speed, imagine what it is like in motion. Protect your brain, your skin, and your life by wearing the proper gear.
Proper gear can also protect from dehydration and hypothermia. Dehydration and hypothermia are enemies of the motorcycle rider and by taking proper precautions can be easily prevented.
Remember before you go on any ride to check your motorcycle for proper tire inflation, oil level, working lights, mirror adjustment and any loose nuts or bolts.
Be information hungry and read all you can about proper riding and what types of dangers and hazards there are to riders. Slow at intersections, even if you have the light, because other vehicles turning into you are a major cause of accidents. Look ahead for children, animals, open car doors, potholes, vehicle blind spots, gravel, oil slicks, and road debris. Already have a plan in mind on how to avoid or minimize risk in these situations. By practicing swerving and quick stop maneuvers, they become habit and automatic.
By following the simple steps above, you can minimize your exposure to risk on your motorcycle. Remember you can't totally avoid risk in any activity, just take precautions so you can enjoy. I have listed links to articles that give more information about the steps above.
Take care and happy riding.