Motorcycle Riding Skills: Signals

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Yamaha Motorcycles Street Event - I-90 Motorsports


Safety Tips

Give 'em the Finger! 

...and other ways to stay alive

As is true in any metropolitan city there's a certain amount of danger involved with getting on a motorcycle and hitting the road. The more you ride the more you tend to forget this, but don't.  Riding a motorcycle is risky business so here's you wake up call.  

As I ride through the city I realize that motorist have little regard for us, or sometimes just don't see us. To that I offer a little wisdom based on this. Some you'll find in the motorcycle safety manual, most you won't.

Everyone and everything is a potential accident.  Keep this in mind as you head down the road. A parked car with it's brake lights on could be making a u-turn in front of you in less than one second and you'll be glad you spotted it before the driver spotted you.

Give 'em the finger. We're not talking about flipping the bird here, were taking about the fact that you have those little tiny lights on your little tiny vehicle which you rely on to get the message across to other drivers that you want to make a lane change. Ha! Don't think they take you seriously. Instead let them know you mean it by pointing your forefinger at the left lane when changing left and looking three times to the right when changing lanes to the right. Somehow this body language wakes the driver next to you up and gets the point across much better than a blinking light. They will know you mean it.

Look Left and Right when the light turns green.  Getting hit by a moving vehicle running a red light often has it's bad side. Take the extra precaution and look left and right before taking off from a green light.

Watch for vehicles making left turns into your path.  The statistics show this is the most common way that motorcyclists get hit. So common that we watched a sport biker on an nice yellow F4 do a superman outside our offices this summer because a a result of this.

Ride the Speed Limit (damn it!). I'm not your mom, but if you tend to ignore the speed limit sooner or later you'll wind up in a nasty situation. A lot of accidents can be avoided if you play by the rule. If you need to speed Washington State has one of the best Road Racing Motorcycling Associations in the world ( WMRRA ) and it doesn't take much to join up. 

Watch thy alcohol consumption. It's interesting how the state only included two pages of information about the consumption of alcohol in the motorcycle handbook. When I went to take my written test 60% of the questions involved those two little pages! Bottom line is that while most motorcycle casualties have below the acceptable alcohol level in their blood stream, the majority of them have some level of alcohol in their blood. Because so much more brainpower is needed to operate a motorcycle, having your motor skills impaired by even trace alcohol levels can make or break how quickly you can avoid a dangerous situation. 

A passenger greatly changes your center of gravity.  Having a passenger along on your bike greatly changes your center of gravity and throws the physics out of whack regarding how the bike was designed. It's simple. If you've got a passenger on your bike be more cautious, drive a little slower and remember it takes longer to brake. And if you plan to speed in the rain on the freeway with an additional rider we will just have to label you "dumb" and place a dunce cap over your helmet.

Patrick Thomas

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