Picture yourself traveling down a North Idaho two-lane blacktop on a cool early summer day. The colors are more vibrant than you’ve ever seen and the scent of pine is fresh in the air. You pass through a shaded area and feel the temperature drop 5 degrees and at the same time, you see a deer running off into the woods on the side of the road and can hear the brush crackling beneath its feet. You are at one with the rhythm of your bike and the road on which you ride.
Motorcycling offers sensations that are beyond compare; a feeling of freedom that is seldom found in other activities. It demands attention and skill to achieve that level of harmony and you must be physically and mentally prepared to take care of whatever comes your way.
The truth of the matter is that motorcycling is more dangerous than driving an automobile. Motorcycles don’t have the luxury of having a steel enclosure for the passengers, crumple zones, seat belts or air bags. Motorcyclists are more vulnerable. When a motorcycle collides with another vehicle, the riders are generally not at fault but they are almost always injured; sometimes very seriously.
VISIBILITY IS THE KEY. In collisions involving motorcycles, other drivers very often fail to see a motorcycle until it’s too late to avoid a crash. The most important thing a motorcyclist can do for themselves is to see and be seen. Motorcyclists must communicate their presence and intentions. Some of the ways that motorcyclists can accomplish this task are:
Wear brightly colored clothing and/or a brightly colored helmet. The use of retro-reflective material on your clothing, helmet and bike will help you stand out.
Ride with your headlight on at all times.
Use your signals. Don't forget to cancel them and don't assume that other drivers see you.
Flash your brake lights.
Although you can use your horn to signal other drivers, don't rely on it. Motorcycle horns are not that loud.
Motorcycles are made for many varied uses and purposes and therefore come in all shapes and sizes. Know what you want out of your motorcycle. Try on your bike to see how it fits. Size does matter in motorcycling. You must feel comfortable and confident so pick a model that you can handle. Take the time to set up your motorcycle. Many controls such as handlebars, brakes, shifter and clutch are adjustable and should be adjusted so that they are an extension of your hands and feet. Prior to riding your motorcycle, check the fluid and oil levels, tires for pressure and damage, controls, electrics and drives. Belt drives should be inspected for wear or damage and shaft drives should be checked for leaks. The Operator’s Manual is the best source of information for your motorcycle.
Alcohol is a leading cause of death among motorcyclists. 35-40 percent of riders killed in motorcycle crashes every year have been consuming alcohol. Alcohol is a depressant that is absorbed into the blood stream very quickly. Alcohols effects appear almost immediately and include errors in judgment, impaired vision, slowed reactions and reduced coordination. Adding drugs (prescription or others) makes things worse. Impairment begins with your first drink.
Be prepared to ride. Be mentally prepared, physically rested and unimpaired. Ensure your motorcycle is in good working condition. Wear appropriate riding gear. Be aware of and prepared for changing weather, road and traffic conditions.
Remember that all motorized vehicles on the road in Idaho, registered or not, must carry liability insurance. Idaho Law requires riders and passengers under the age of 18 to wear a protective helmet while riding on a motorcycle or scooter. Helmets must have DOT (US Department of Transportation) certification.
Motorcycle safety courses for riders from novice to expert are offered throughout Idaho from the good folks at Idaho Star. Participation in these courses is highly recommended.
Four wheels move the body. Two wheels move the soul ~ Author Unknown