Revving your bike’s engine and cruising the open road; zipping from street to street, block to block, through downtown; riding through the countryside with friends on a Saturday afternoon; there’s nothing like riding a motorcycle to give you a true sense of power and freedom. When you’re unprepared, though, motorcycles can be dangerous machines.
It’s motorcycle season again, and crashes have been sharply on the rise all over Columbus. Just recently, a local firefighter was in a fatal crash in the Downtown area.
Derek T. Walton, Columbus native and four-year vet with the fire department, was enjoying a ride on his 2014 Suzuki when, suddenly, he lost control of his motorcycle and collided with a light pole.
Walton’s motorcycle crash marks the third fatality in five days.
In the wake of this tragedy, it’s important to reflect on motorcycle safety. Taking your bike out for a ride is exhilarating, but it’s just as important to keep yourself safe while on the road. These are some of the most common dangers people riding their bikes face, and how you can avoid them:
Cars turning left
One of the most common times accidents occur is when a car is making a left-hand turn. As a motorcycle rider, you’re at an even greater disadvantage because your slimmer profile is more likely to keep you in a driver’s blind spots.
Always be on the lookout when a car is at an intersection preparing to turn left. Try to intuit when they may pull out in front of you. This is a skill that you as a motorcyclist will need to develop. Keep an eye on the car’s wheels; they’re a great indicator of the driver’s intention. Be aware of whether the driver has noticed you or if you’re blocked from view. If things look bad, hit your breaks before anything happens.
Cars merging into you
Your motorcycle is small in comparison to the SUVs and pickups you share the highway with. Big vehicles have big blind spots, and those blind spots can mean big trouble for you. If a driver doesn’t see you, there’s a chance they may attempt to merge directly into you.
Get to know the locations of other vehicles’ blind spots, and spend as little time as possible there. You may also not want to rely entirely on being able to see driver’s face in their side mirrors. Just because they can use their mirrors doesn’t mean they will.
Bike and road conditions
Slippery, uneven and worn road conditions are all major factors in many motorcycle accidents. A new season is upon us; this is a time to consider the state of your ride. How worn are your tires? If your treads are getting worn, don’t try to negotiate a long curve at 45 MPH in a rainstorm. When did you last check your suspension? If you haven’t thought about it in a while, take it easy on uneven and craggy pavement.
Keep yourself safe this motorcycle season. Get your bike into good working order before getting on the road, and remember that even if you are the best rider in the world, other motorists may be the ones you need to watch out for.