Ride safely

2007 was a a bad year for motorcycle related deaths on Queensland roads.  It truly is a tragedy that anyone dies in a vehicle accident and if you’ve been personally affected by the loss of a loved one I extend my condolences to you.

I used to summarise motorcycling as “Not dangerous providing you don’t hit something or fall off” and I still believe that thought has merit.  In the event of an accident, your chances of being seriously injured or killed are greatly exaggerated on a motorcycle (when compared to a car) and if you’re riding but not admitting this to yourself, you are probably doing yourself an injustice.  It’s this realisation that can help motivate you to go to the extra effort to keep yourself safe. 

I’ve been riding motorbikes on the road for around fifteen years now – and have yet to have an accident.  I refuse to be superstitious about this (by adding a “touch wood” style comment) – and I still remind myself that it’s not beyond me to have an accident.  Do I have the definitive secret to riding safely on the road?  I can only wish!  Ask enough riders how they keep safe and you will probably end up with a conflicting set of answers.  But I refuse to believe that “luck” needs to play any part of it.

I’ve raced (and crashed) motorcycles on a race-track.  To quote a fellow racer “I never set the world on fire” in terms of my on-track performances, but it did teach me a few lessons.

  1. Motorcycles are harder to crash that you might imagine.  Providing you’re getting gyroscopic effect from wheels turning they are incredibly stable.  In the event that you lock a wheel on the motorbike, the quicker you can get it turning again, the quicker stability returns to the bike.
  2. The biggest issue working against you keeping the motorbike upright is usually yourself…  “Panic” suppresses your ability to deal with an emergency situation.  If you can recognise the on-set of it, you may have a fighting chance of dismissing the panic and saving the situation.

On the road, these points still apply, but can be rather academic if your scenario includes other vehicles.  Road position / covering brake levers / situational awareness and many other factors all help improve your chances but these can best be summarised as “Concentration on the job at hand”.   Don’t ever allow yourself to think that it couldn’t happen to you…  Ride safely and enjoy the sense of freedom only motorcycling can offer.

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