Riding safely is an all round approach to riding a motorcycle every day, every week and every year. Riding a motorcycle is like life on steroids. It plugs you into the real world in an immediate and direct way. And like life, there are no simple answers, as every situation is different, but yet there are better and worse ways to handle it. This chapter covers the basics, while the next chapters cover:
- Attitude. Attitude is everything.
- Readiness. Expect the unexpected.
- Conditions. Conditions change riding parameters.
- Situations. Recognizing accident situations is the key to avoiding them.
Few ride motorcycles only to be safe but equally few ride with a death wish. The choice made here is not fun or safety, but fun and safety. Riding and safety can go together. Don’t choose short term pleasure and long term pain, choose long term pleasure! Riding safely is for motorcyclists who enjoy riding and want to keep doing it.
Should I follow your suggestions?
Not necessarily, as everyone is different. This site is what I do, but even I don’t do it all the time. So don’t blindly follow what this book says. The only way to take advice is to make it your own. Everyone has their style. Read mine, and if you find something useful, then take it up! Even if you only do one thing, it could save your life one day. Embrace the best and leave the rest. You are the rider, so you decide what you do.
Motorcycle safety is for everyone
This site is for motorcycle riders, but safety is for everyone, young and old, men and women. For example, few women ride motorcycles in America, but many women know men who ride , either as boyfriends, husbands, sons or fathers. If a man in your life rides, or wants to, he needs to ride safely. Give him this link. He may see the risks, and change his mind. If he is going to ride anyway, he might as well get good advice.
The principles described here apply to car drivers as well. If you drive a car and read this book, you will likely learn something. The chapter on Attitude applies as much to drivers as to riders, as does the chapter on Situations. When people talk of the “road carnage” they are not kidding. In 2003, 42,643 people died on US roads. Over forty thousand in one year! Compare that to the few thousands killed in Iraq or on 9/11. And for every death, many more are injured or maimed. Most of these deaths did NOT involve motorcycles. Vehicles affect safety, but the problem is mainly the “nut behind the wheel”. Mental not mechanical things cause most accidents – things like inattention, false perceptions and bad attitudes. This book is all about such things.
Would a site called “Riding Dangerously: How to push your motorcycle to the limit and tempt death” be more successful? Maybe. But let other sites cover extreme riding and how to do wheelies. This site is for every day riders. If you want to ride safely to work every day in all weathers and traffic, then read on. From this point of view, a motorcycle doing a wheelie is like a bear who gets up on two legs and then decides to stand on one. It just isn’t a good idea. The bear can do it but whats the point? Riding safely is about riding a motorcycle for a long time by someone who has done just that. The aim is riding longevity not riding thrills. May you ride long and prosper.
Life is risk
Isn’t the best way to be safe not to ride a motorcycle at all? Well is the best way to live safely to not live at all? If you want no risk then don’t get out of bed in the morning. To minimize risk, you would have to spend each day in a padded room, like the girl in the movie “Final Destination”. That is not a good way to live, and in that movie, even that girl died. Life is inherently risky! To reduce risk by doing nothing means you have no life. Even TV couch-potatoes, who never do anything dangerous at all, die of obesity and heart attack!
Risk is built into life, so this is not a “how-to-be-100%-safe” book because there is no 100% safe. Without some risk, life is not worthwhile, and if life is not worthwhile what are you afraid for? Freedom to ride is freedom to fall and there’s no getting away from it. If it is any consolation, no form of transport is 100% safe. People trip and hurt themselves when walking, yet we still walk. People die when planes crash, yet we still fly. Thousands of Americans die in cars, yet we still drive. Why? Because the only way to avoid all risk is to do nothing. Life is ultimately a fatal condition and the only “cure” is to live it! Yet to take every risk is as foolish as to take take no risk. Riding safely is a balance between paralyzing fear and arrogant bravado.
I don’t know
This book is my thoughts to you, but sharing them is dangerous as I might think I knew stuff! That thought would immediately put me at risk on the road. The reality of riding is that you never know what will happen. Thinking you know is a disease of the mind. A healthy mind knows it doesn’t know. Only this gives you a chance on the road. Its the difference between open and closed, whether a pair of eyes, or a mind. If you think know the road, you’re immediately in danger on it. So I’m telling you right now, “I don’t know! ”
Welcome to the club
Long term motorcycle riders are a special breed. Whether men or women, black or white, young or old, they know what it takes. When they meet, they relate immediately. The rider camaraderie cuts across age, sex, race, culture, religion, status and all the other divisions. Before the realities of riding, we are all the same. Welcome to the club!