Community Commentary Motorcycle Safety: A Lifelong Process

Motorcycle Safety: A Lifelong Process

2011-motorcycle-safety-a-lifelong-process (3)

Lieback’s Corner (3) / 5.13.2011

At the unofficial start of riding season here in Northeastern Pennsylvania, two men were killed in separate motorcycle crashes. The early May incidents – one a single bike crash, the other involving a car – happened within a few days of each other.

I didn’t personally know these two men, aged 30 and 60, but they were part of that motorcycling community that we are all part of, regardless if we’re thousands of miles away or two houses down the street.

The details are scarce regarding the deadly motorcycle crashes, and both are said to be under investigation. But regardless of how they occurred, these incidents are the saddest reminder of how seriously we must take safety.

But from the looks of things, not many of my fellow riders – most of them unknown to me – are taking this safety issue seriously. This was easy to see.

When the temps climbed above 70 last week, the rest of the motorcycling world suddenly awoke. And with this awakening arrived many dumb ideas, including the most basic necessities of riding safely.

Within the first three days of temps above the 70s, I witnessed the usual cruiser type with no helmets, doo rags dangling. Then the sportbike riders with T-shirts and shorts, and the occasional woman on the back with lower back exposed, thong sticking out.

And then the stunt riders expressing their inner souls on the streets of America.

Example: Here I am, arriving back on a major four-lane highway after a sport ride through my own TT country, piloting my beloved CBR, clad in full leathers. I pull onto the highway, maintaining a lengthy following distance behind an 18-wheeler. Upon checking my mirrors (every 10 seconds in a triangle method as a habit), here comes this first-generation Yamaha R1 blaring past me, block-off mirror plates shimmering beneath the sun.

The rider who wears sneakers, shorts and a t-shirt begins taunting me, I guess wanting to see who may get run over first. I maintain my speed, hoping the best for this guy. Then I hear him clutch the machine, and wheelie past the 18-wheeler.

This guy or kid or whatever was on the obvious risky side of things, wheeling past a tractor-trailer at speeds easily over 100 mph. I hope he made it home safe, but also hope his motor mysteriously exploded that night while he slept. He gives all of us sportbike riders a bad image.

Then a rider who appears less risky. Example: The following day on a leisurely morning commute aboard the VFR, I was amazed at a guy piloting an Electra Glide at a leisurely pace, wearing a leather jacket, gloves and a ¾ helmet with goggles.

Finally, I thought, someone with sense. But then he’s about four inches away from a car’s bumper on a road where the speed limit is 45…and we were traveling about 10 mph over that.

I was hoping no debris suddenly appeared on the road, allowing him all of no time to react. This guy is in immediate need of rider education…and it’s as easy as reading a basic rider’s guide that is readily available almost anywhere. If not, he’ll easily become another statistic.

These are just two examples near the city of Wilkes-Barre, which has a whopping population of just over 40,000 people. All within a few days of warm temperatures…I could only image what goes on in California.

These situations demand attention. So if you know people like this, please say something in the nicest way possible. Someday you can possibly save that person’s life, and that’s one thing that should be on everybody’s “Bucket List.”

Remember, riding a motorcycle safely is a lifelong process of constantly educating yourself with new skills, and re-learning the lessons we’ve already learned. And of course wearing the right gear. And not wheeling past 18-wheelers. And not riding on the bumper of a car…

My local motorcycling community already lost two riders, and the season didn’t even begin for these people. Regardless if you or I didn’t know these people on a personal level, they were part of the bigger motorcycling community…the worldwide motorcycling community that unites every rider.

And I want this motorcycling unity to continue growing. So let’s always take riding safety into consideration, and look ahead to many more beginnings in our community, and not so many endings.

– Ron Lieback

Stay Twisted; Throttle yr Soul

Ron Lieback
Ron Lieback
One of the few moto journalists based on the East Coast, Ron Lieback joined the motorcycle industry as a freelancer in 2007, and is currently Online Editor at Ultimate Motorcycling. He is also the author of "365 to Vision: Modern Writer's Guide (How to Produce More Quality Writing in Less Time).

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