10 Motorcycle Safety Tips to Keep You on the Road

Motorcycles driving BC Highways

Whether protected by three tonnes of metal and a seatbelt or by leathers and a helmet, all drivers are responsible for motorcycle safety. In fact, besides speed and inattentive driving, the main factor contributing to motorcycle incidents in British Columbia is a failure by other drivers to yield the right-of-way.

Provincial laws covering helmet standards and passengers are meant to reduce the risks of riding and potential injuries; however, greater overall awareness of motorcycles is still vital for preventing serious incidents.

In the name of motorcycle safety, we want to share some tips for bikers and four-wheeled travellers to encourage all drivers to move in harmony.

Driving a car or truck?

  1. Treat motorcycles like they are as big as other vehicles. Sure, motorcycles don’t take up as much lane space as a dual cab pickup, but they often adjust lane positions to avoid road debris and respond to wind and passing vehicles. Allow motorcycles plenty of lane space.
  2. Double-check those blind spots. The motorcycle’s smaller size still has to be taken into consideration, especially when changing lanes. Use your turn signal and take extra care to ensure the way is clear.
  3. Back off. Stopping distances for cars and motorcycles are about equal, but wet conditions can make quick stops difficult for both. What might be a mere “fender bender” between two cars could end up much more serious with a motorcycle involved.
  4. Be extra cautious pulling in front. Due to their smaller size, motorcycles can appear farther away than they actually are. They can also be hidden behind other larger vehicles, so ensure you have lots of space to turn in front without interrupting the oncoming motorcycle. Does the bike have its turning signal on? Play it safe and wait until it turns.
  5. Change lanes for merging motorcycles. While we suggest getting out of the way for all vehicles merging onto the highway, changing lanes to leave room for motorcyclists is particularly important.

Driving a motorcycle?

  1. Avoid centre of lane when traffic slows. It’s best to have a quick exit strategy when traffic suddenly grinds to a halt. Keeping to the left or right of your lane allows you to escape quickly if a trailing vehicle fails to stop in time.
  2. Dress to be seen and protected. Wearing reflective clothing and bright colours helps other drivers see you. Also, wearing an approved helmet and garments made of leather, or Kevlar, can protect you if you fall. Protect your body from head to toe.
  3. Target open spaces. Think of it as an invisible shield. The more space you surround yourself with, the better. That way, you’re staying out of drivers’ blind spots and avoiding any sudden movements.
  4. Cancel those signals. Continuing straight ahead? Get used to checking your signals when coming up to intersections, ensuring you aren’t sending false messages.
  5. Never come between a car and its off ramp. How many times have you seen a vehicle suddenly cross over to a highway off-ramp at the last second because the driver wasn’t paying attention? When approaching off ramps, it’s best to be in the left lane or, at least, ensure there aren’t any vehicles to your left.

Motorcyclists are more vulnerable than other drivers, but it’s up to everyone to be motorcycle aware on the roads. Do you live for the ride? If so, ride to live, and share your concerns with friends who drive cars and trucks. Seeing the face behind the visor can help get the message across.

Question: What’s your favourite place in BC to cruise your motorcycle?


Page 1 of 36 comments on “10 Motorcycle Safety Tips to Keep You on the Road”

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  1. I bought my first motorcycle, a cruiser two months ago. Having rode one, for a year 40 years ago, I never got over the thrill now at 66. It all comes down to the number of cars on the road which has increased dramatically over that time, and the technology governing urban rush hours which here in Vancouver are starting to fill up any time of the day, coming to a complete stop. All four lanes on the 12 billion dollar just built highway every morning now are gridlock. Within 2 months of acquiring my new cruiser bike I ran into my first idiot driver and with the saturate streets there is one in every 10. Sat on her cellphone, moving intermittently down the shoulder of the road, through the ‘one stop sign’, intersection she chose just that instant as I passed along side to pull out. With on-coming traffic and no-where to go I had to dump it and hope for the best. Never ever, ride in a car’s blind spot. Rev your engine to let them know you’re there. Assume if you find yourself there, they will pull into your lane. Your life depends on it, if you are a motorcyclist. And don’t count on the law, I.C.B.C., or anyone else but yourself to protect your rights and you, on a bike. The Times they are a-changing.

  2. I have often wondered just what happened to the old “May is Motorcycle Awareness month”. Over the past few years there has been less and less activity related to motorcycle safety by the government and local law enforcement. I have campaigned for many years for motorcycle safety and am always looking for improved ways to support motorcycle safety both with motorcycle riders and other drivers.

    There seems to be a real lack of public participation on the part of ICBC, Government and local law enforcement to bring the message to the public each year.

    I would be interested to hear from you as to whether there is still a public campaign for motorcycle safety and whether you need any assitence.

    • Hi StormRider,

      Yes, May is still Motorcycle Awareness Month in BC – although you are right, there does seem to be less activity in this campaign of late. We searched the ICBC site for a current campaign, and found that there were a number of links to information about motorcycle safety but no current campaign. We are always looking for ways to promote road safety and would love to talk with you about ways we can better promote motorcycle safety on BC Highways.

  3. It’s an old argument (even between motorcycle riders) whether “Loud Pipes Save Lives”. To my knowledge there is no scientific evidence which supports the old saying.

    That said, the original article has some great pointers for both motorcyclists and other vehicle drivers. We could all use a dose of cooperation to reduce the number of deaths and injuries on the road this season.

    Lets all try to get along on the road this season and show everyone that it CAN be a safe summer for everyone this season.
    And if you have a constructive idea to contribute, you input is welcome.

  4. Although I support all highway safety initiatives, I find it extremely difficult to understand why the Ministry does not insist that motorcyclists follow the basic rules of Motor Vehicle laws. Motorcyclists seem to believe that operating their cycles without mufflers is their right. In addition to the vast majority who operate at unsafe speeds ( weekend of 4/5 May is an indication) it is obvious that neither municipalities nor provincial police forces seem inclined to enforce any motorcycle infractions.

    Why should BC citizens tolerate the continual high decibel noise during the warm weather season? As displayed by IRSU on Vacouver Island this weekend, RCMP seemed intimidated during their roadside inspections., I request that TranBC commits the same initiative to citizen’s quality of life as they do to advising auto drivers to be aware of motorcycles.

    • There is an active, combined working group within the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure and the Ministry of Justice addressing these concerns. The BC Association of Chiefs of Police have put forward a motion regarding possible regulation changes and adoption of an SAE road side testing protocol. Currently there are enforcement options under two relevant sections of the Motor Vehicle Act Regulations: Excessive Noise 7A.01 of the Regulations and under Division 7 of the Regulations there are standards related to mufflers.

      Inspection can also be required with use of a notice and order. The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure has reviewed the technical material, the SAE standard and testing protocol, surveyed other jurisdictions regarding existing legislation and protocols for all types of vehicle noise and have begun to engage the public regarding their understanding and perceptions of the issue. We are also working closely with industry (the Motorcycle and Moped Industry Council). Once the consultative phase has been completed, we will evaluate the material and consider next steps. We continue to reach out to educate both riders and motorists on motorcycle safety and awareness and recognize that the vast majority of riders are safety conscious and responsible operators.

      Hope that this information helps, and if you want to stay up to date on ministry activities, remember you can follow us on Facebook, Twitter and here on TranBC. Thanks Frank!

    • It is obvious that you have never been on a motorcycle before. It is actually safer for a rider if cars can hear them coming, if people would just treat motorcycle’s with the same respect as automobiles it would be safer for everyone on the roads.

      • Obviously you do not ride a motorcycle. Sitting in a cage with the radio on is no different than an ambulance approaching you or coming up from behind you. You do not hear the sirens until they are almost on top of you.It is no different than loud pipes. It is a proven that loud pipes only hurt the ears of the motorcyclist.

        • That’s why some wear ear plugs! the noise is a real turn off, especially when they return from a ride at night waking up the neighbourhood. why do otherwise respectable people become jerks when they saddle a motorcycle?

      • Respect is a two way street, cut the noise & the pollution, many motorcycles stink more than a Brigg & Stratton lawnmower!

        • What about all the loud sterios ?? I ca t sit at a light in my car without having my music drowned out by some youths choice of music.
          He obsiously would not be aware of a bike nearby .
          And as far as pollution ?? Give me a break ! I get 500 km on one little tank of gas on my bike

        • Hi Frank. I’ve ridden motorcycles and cycled in Ontario most of my life. I work for a mining company where safety is EVERYTHING! While I don’t completely agree with open pipes, I don’t believe your statements should be taken seriously until you’ve ridden a motorcycle and been cut off even once (and survived!). Being seen and heard as opposed to just seen (situational awareness seems to be optional for most motorists! I have MANY gopro videos to attest to this..) makes a massive difference and absolutely HAS saved my life on my motorcycle on several occasions. Good luck pushing authorities on this. Most of them drive motorcycles and whether they admit it or not publicly, they do understand most of our safety concerns and our vulnerability on motorcycles. Thanks, Ian.