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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Cancel those signals. Continuing straight ahead? Get used to checking your signals when coming up to intersections, ensuring you aren’t sending false messages.
- 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?