As the weather starts to get warmer and warmer, we are going to see a lot more motorcycles and peddle bikes on the road. In Vancouver, there are much more bike lanes now then there were even just last year. We are forced to share the road with each other so we need to be aware of our surroundings at all times no matter what you are driving. Drivers in vehicles have many more blind spots and need to be more aware of their surroundings as bikers are much smaller and are often not seen. Cyclists must remember to follow the rules of the road when riding on the roads and be extra cautious of the vehicles around to avoid an accident. Remember cyclists, drivers in vehicles may not see you so it’s up to you to keep yourself safe! Stop at stop signs and red lights. We all want to get home safe.
The highways will start to see thousands of riders this time of year as well. Sadly, too many of them will not see the end of riding season. Most will lose in a collision with another vehicle, and we all know the motorcycle will always lose. Some will crash due to over confidence or reckless riding.
Riders say that motorcycles are the safest vehicles on the road because they accelerate out of danger, stop quicker and are more maneuverable than pretty much any other vehicle. They like to think that they can ride out of most dangerous situations.
The problem is that, too often, they are just simply not seen and the other driver does something to cause a collision that they can’t avoid. A motorcycle is the safest vehicle on the road, right up until the point of impact.
Drivers typically misjudge the approach speed of a motorcycle when they are making a left hand turn thinking they have enough time to turn. It takes much longer to make a left hand turn than most people think it does. In a collision with a vehicle and a motorcycle, most often it will be the drivers fault. Poor judgement can cause for an unfortunate accident that could have been avoided. Play it safe and give yourself extra space, sit there and wait longer if need be. Also, keeping a larger distance from the motorcycle in front of you than a vehicle. Motorcycles can stop much faster and if you are too close, it could be an unnecessary accident waiting to happen.
Motorcycles are tough to see and, if you are not looking for them, very easy to miss. They handle much differently than other vehicles and have some special characteristics. If you don’t really understand them, they can be difficult to share the road with.
Some easy guidelines for you to apply as you see motorcycle riders this spring and summer will help keep everyone safer.
• When you are waiting at intersections to turn left, remember that you may have more than just cars and trucks approaching and look for motorcycles. If you see a rider approaching, make sure that they are coming at a speed that allows you to turn safely in front of them before starting your turn.
• Remember that a motorcycle can stop in a fraction of the distance than your car, SUV or truck can so leave a good following distance. If the rider brakes suddenly for some reason and you are too close, you will not be able to slow quickly enough to avoid him or her. Normally, under ideal conditions we suggest a following distance of at least three seconds behind a motorcycle. Add more distance if conditions deteriorate.
• When you change lanes, check your mirror and shoulder check to make sure there is no motorcycle in your blind spot. Most riders work hard to stay out of blind spots, but if you don’t shoulder check before changing lanes, you will never be sure the lane change is safe.
• When you are stopped behind a motorcycle, leave a good space. It feels very intimidating to have a large vehicle stopped really close behind you. This should actually be a rule for any vehicle, maintain your distance!
Whether you are an experience driver or a new driver (or rider), take a moment to refresh your memory or learn the different safety concerns associated with motorcycles and cyclists. We all want to get home at the end of the day so safety always comes first. Please be aware of your surroundings and be extra cautious around other road users.
Riders – it may also be wise to wear a hi-vis jacket or have something on your helmet. Make yourselves as visible as possible for your own safety.