To ride a motorcycle is to make a million decisions with each passing minute. Some of those decisions are big. Some of them are small. But all of them are in pursuit of the same ultimate goal: stay on the bike, and stay alive. That’s kind of the fun of it though, isn’t it? The feeling of freedom that comes with being one with the bike and the pavement beneath it. Every bump in the road; every crack in the highway — you feel them, and you react.
Riding a motorcycle has this way of dragging you headlong into the present, because if you let your concentration drift too much, well… we’ve seen our fair share of crash scene photos, and we’d rather leave them to your imagination.
A lot of those million decisions you’re making are unconscious. They’re not things you actively think about. They’re the product of your experience, your training, and instinct — plus a bit of that human will to live. But there are some things you should be actively putting thought towards when you’re on the road. If these are things you’re already thinking about each time you ride, that’s awesome! There’s nothing wrong with a refresher.
With a big assist from the California Highway Patrol, let’s dive in:
Reminder #1: Lane splitting is legal (if done in a safe and prudent manner).
The operative word here is safe. Last year the lovely state of Utah (protip: take a ride there during autumn) joined California as the second state to allow lane-splitting. This is actually one of our favorite topics, because it’s a bit of a prickly pear, legally speaking. Though it is of course legal to split lanes — and in traffic, often the safest course of action to avoid being rear-ended — driver and motorcyclist opinion on the matter is a bit… divided. Pardon our lack of pun.
Many car drivers are resentful of motorcyclists splitting lanes. It can be a startling experience suddenly having someone come up right alongside you. And many drivers don’t realize that what you’re doing is legal. The best approach is to be cognizant of that. While safety has to be priority number one, performing lane splitting with a sense of awareness to those around you can go a long way towards swaying public opinion in a positive direction.
Reminder #2: “Postpone your trip if the weather is bad or roads are icy.”
If a motorcycle is your only mode of transportation, you’ve no doubt encountered a bit of rain here and there. Riding in the rain isn’t prohibitively dangerous, but it can be more challenging — especially in the first few hours after the precipitation begins. That’s when all the oils that have seeped into the pavement are drawn upward, making highways extremely slick. If it just started to rain, or if the rain is coming down so hard that even drivers are struggling, that’s your cue to sit this one out for a bit. Wait for the weather to pass, and the oils to be washed away. And if you can accommodate it, maybe take a different form of transportation that day.
Reminder #3: “Don’t drink and drive. Driving under the influence is a leading cause of motorcycle crashes.”
Don’t drink and drive. Don’t drink and ride. And for good measure we’ll add: don’t partake in maríjúana prior to setting out on the road. This is one of those “so obvious we can’t believe it still needs to be said” reminders, but it does. When you overhear people bragging about how they’re “great drunk drivers” (there is absolutely no such thing), it does. When you see yet another crash being reported on the local news, it does. When you think about how many people lose their lives to drunk driving each year — be it at their own hands, or someone else’s — it does.
Just don’t do it. Riding while impaired endangers everyone around you. Don’t let the dumbest decision you’ve made be the one that kills you. Just don’t.
Bonus Reminder: Keep your eyes on the road ahead.
The list of things you need to think about is long and winding, much like the roads most fun to ride. We’re going to be releasing a bunch more tips like the three above over the coming weeks, so stay tuned, and keep your eyes on the road ahead!
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Check Out These References for Further Reading:
“Press Release: CHP Announces Lane Splitting Tips.” California Highway Patrol. Retrieved 15 January 2020.
“Lane Splitting in California.” LaneSplittingIsLegal.com. Retrieved 15 January 2020.
“Motorcyclists revved up about removal of lane-splitting guidelines.” Hearst Communications. Retrieved 15 January 2020.
“Motorcycle Safety is a Two-way Street.” National Safety Council. Retrieved 15 January 2020.
“Motorcycle Accidents: Common Causes.” NOLO. Retrieved 15 January 2020.