Summer Riding Rules...
by
Alex Pesacreta
June, 2007

 

Past Columns

January 2007

February 2007

March 2007

May 2007

 


The official start of the summer season is only days away, but already the weather has been cooperating and has been warm and rider friendly. For those of us living in NJ, the summer season brings along with it an increase in already awful traffic for those heading to the famous Jersey Shore. Unfortunately, it also brings the potential for an increase in accidents.

A motorcyclist's mantra "See and Be Seen" is necessary for our survival on the road, but equally is the responsibility of every rider to be aware of the traffic around them. One of our members, Lynn Lenco, remarked (quite astutely) that as motorcyclists, we should always follow the "Rule of Tonnage". It is a very simple rule to live by. If the vehicle coming onto a roadway is bigger and weighs more than what you are riding/driving, let it go ahead of you. Don't put yourself in a position you may not win.

(Editor: These two photos provide an excellent example of the "Rule of Tonnage", the semi dump truck jack-knifed trying to miss the motorcycle. Obviously he failed. Although seriously injured, only one person survived this crash and it wasn't the motorcyclist. Photos courtesy of Roger Cotton Photography.)

Another rule I follow all the time is to assume that the driver of any vehicle does not see me.

(Editor: the photo at the left shows two vehicles from 300 feet away. That tiny pinprick of light to the right of the dual headlights is a motorcycle. The picture on the right shows the same two vehicles from 150 feet away. While not as serious during daylight, the problem with visibility for the motorcycle is obvious. Photos courtesy of Poplin Engineering.)

Even if I have the right of way, I will slow down (slightly) at intersections-especially with the right on red. I never go just as the light at the intersection turns green without looking first. This I learned from experience. On day I was first in line at an intersection with the delayed green on my side of the road. The on-coming traffic had crossed and I was sitting (in my car) waiting for my light to turn green. When it turned green, I hesitated because I had seen something on my left side. Well, that something turned out to be a woman blowing through the red light. We all know what could have happened.

I know that I have written in the past about safety while riding, but I believe repeating myself is worth your life and safety. Be careful out there. Take the extra 1-2 seconds to look. Let aggressive drivers pass you. Seek out less traveled roads. Ride with a buddy if you can and always have your cell phone programmed with ICE (In Case of Emergency) phone number. Rescue personnel are trained to look for this number on your phone so someone can be contacted if you are in an accident. Make sure you bike is working properly and obey the speed limits. You will arrive no sooner than the people you pass. Don't tailgate. Exhaust fumes are not healthy to begin with and if you are close enough to see the serial number on the exhaust pipe it's time to back off the throttle. Besides, it is difficult to avoid smacking the back of a car or truck's bumper when they have to hit the brakes when you are too close.

Remember, enjoy the ride, take in the scenery but keep a watchful eye on all that is around you!

If you would like to comment on this article send your thoughts to spokeswomenmc@hotmail.com.

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