The streets are empty and quiet. Almost eerily so. Freeways that were once rush hour parking lots now look like stills from a post-apocalyptic film. If you’re anything like us, you’re probably feeling a little stir-crazy… and starting to think those roads might make the perfect personal racetrack. But should you be riding your motorcycle right now? It’s a tough question to answer. More on that in a second.
So far we do know this: social distancing IS working. In California, we are just now starting to see the curve of new Coronavirus cases start to flatten. But… we are not out of the woods yet. Not by a long shot. This last month has been rough. No matter who you are, or what your background is, you’re feeling it. Covid-19 has upturned all our lives, shattering the warm normality of modern life with all the grace of a bull in a china shop.
Among the things we’ve all lost is our freedom of mobility. The ability to climb on your bike or behind the wheel and just go. Anywhere. Has anyone else found themselves almost missing their daily commute? Or just wishing you could take twenty minutes away from your family, much as you love them?
A joyride right now almost sounds like the perfect antidote — an opportunity to free your mind from the slow bore of sequestered life. There’s a case to be made for the mental health benefits of getting out there. Anxiety and depression are spiking; we could all use a break. But… there’s an equally, if not more, compelling case to be made against taking to the street on a motorcycle right now.
- Every state’s stay-at-home order has different rules, but California’s are pretty clear cut: travel is restricted to essential activities only. These days, going to the grocery store is just about the only essential activity any of us is partaking in. When you could safely go to the store multiple times a week, taking your motorcycle with limited cargo space would have been a non-issue. That’s not the case during a pandemic. Better to take a car, buy more at once, and avoid going back as long as possible.
- A joyride is NOT an essential activity. Just because it seems like the world has ended doesn’t mean it has — to wit, the police are still out there in full force, and they are not likely to take kindly to you riding around just for funsies.
- Fewer vehicles do not automatically equal safer roads. In fact, anecdotal reports indicate an increase in poor behavior behind the wheel. It’s not entirely surprising. When people think they have the roads to themselves, they’re more likely to speed or engage in distracted driving. Complacency is dangerous to motorcyclists.
- The last place you want to go right now is the ER. Think about what might happen if you get in an accident. What if you get exposed to coronavirus? What if you have the virus, and expose someone else to it?
- It’s all hands on deck at the hospital right now in the fight against Covid-19. Even though it’s an unlikely scenario, if you crash, think of all the resources that will have to be rerouted to care for you. Beds and personal protective equipment are in short supply. Doctors and nurses are already fighting to stay upright through 90 hour shifts. And god forbid you’re hurt so badly that you end up needing a ventilator. Riding a motorcycle already has an element of danger to it, but never before has that danger so substantially extended to the lives of others. As one commenter wrote on RideApart, “Please take it easy. The hospitals don’t need more work.”
We get that it’s hard, and we really wish we could be out there riding too. Being stuck inside on a gorgeous, 78 degree day is the peak of insult added to injury. Every one of us would love nothing more than get out and enjoy the fresh air; the wind in our face; the roar of the engine. As we settle in for the long haul, you might take solace in the fact that your sacrifice — the part you play when you take heed to the “Safer at Home” order — is having the intended effect. Never lose sight of that. And never forget that the roads will still be there when this is all over.
It sucks that now isn’t a good time for motorcyclists to take to the roads, and we know that, because we’re feeling it ourselves. But what if a motorcycle is your only mode of transportation? What if you have no choice but to take your bike when performing essential activities?
That’s what our next post is going to be about: how to ride safely during this pandemic if you can’t avoid it. If you can help it, take a car. But if you can’t, we’ve got you covered, too.
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Check Out These References for Further Reading:
“New York City’s motorcycle community is riding to save lives.” ABC News. Retrieved 14 April 2020.
“Riding Through The COVID-19 Pandemic.” Cruiser. Retrieved 14 April 2020.
“Social distancing works. The earlier the better, California and Washington data show.” The Washington Post. Retrieved 14 April 2020.