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There’s been a rash of motorcycle accidents here in BC. Recently here on Vancouver Island, a head-on collision heading up towards the Malahat shook me (and many others) up. It had me reviewing the rules I ride by. While I expect to die one day, I want to live doing the things I love, not die by them. Here’s a fist full of motorcycle safety tips that I live by.

Know why you ride.

  1. I personally ride to relax. If I’m chomping at the bit to pass the idiot driving in front of me, I’m no longer relaxed. So I drop back, create a space between us, and relax.
  2. Stay focused. When you’re on a mission, make a concerted effort to stay focused on the road. Most accidents happen close to home, and there’s a reason for that. As you near your home (or destination), your mind starts to wander. You’ll think about that confrontation, what you should have said, how you can be a better parent, or whatever your destination holds for you. Bottom line is, when you find that happening to you, get your brain back to the moment.

Follow the rules.

  1. Ride right. When in a multi-lane road or highway, ride in the right lane. This puts you the farthest away from that lethal car that might wander over the middle lines.
  2. Follow the speed limit. There was a recent police effort to focus on motorcyclists. Bikers got all up in arms about it. But what struck me was that the police could only pull you over if you did something stupid or illegal. One that covers both of those categories is speeding. I’ve recently slowed down. If possible, I find a driver who rides my pace and follow from a distance. Then, I can keep my eyes off my speedo, lose the stress, and enjoy my ride.

Follow safe biking rules.

  1. Beyond the law, be safe. Wear appropriate gear. I personally wear a full-face helmet all the time. I personally abhor beanies. While I’ll never blame a death on a beanie, I do believe that it’s your job to maximize your own safety.
  2. Give yourself more time if you’re riding in a group OR riding with a passenger. And pre-determine the rules with your group or passenger.
  3. Practice safe riding. Experts recommend a three-second following rule. I go with a wide berth and settle in at five.

Ride your own ride. No matter what.

  1. You are responsible for you. End of sentence. I recently tagged along with a group of riders. I love love love doing that. In a group and still ultimately on my own. At times, these boys would lane hop to get ahead. Or cars would cut into the group and they’d lane hop to get back together. And I found myself doggedly pursuing them. And surrendering my own rules to stay with group. Foolishness. I got caught up in the “mob mentality” did things that I normally would not do on my own. Like lane hop. Like speed to get into the group.
  2. When riding with a friend, have pre-determined stops. Bikers generally sit above the crowd. If a car or two separates you from your buddy, relax! you can still see there helmet.
  3. If you get separated AND you’re committed to riding together, make it a hard-and-fast rule that the lead drops back. Doing it the other way around (that the back races forward) is an accident waiting to happen.

The shortage of nice riding weather I think has gotten to us all. It’s been an extremely short summer with extremely limited riding. So this August, we’re all madly hopping on to our bikes and leaving the bulk of our brains at home. Stop that. Review your rules and stick to them. Plan your ride. Think ahead. And follow the rules, both the legal ones and your own personal riding ones.

Arrive alive my friends, arrive alive.

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