A few years ago on my way to New York City a Harley rider raced past me. I was going about 75 mph. He was wearing a T-shirt, no gloves, and no helmet. Caused me to ponder risk a bit.
Riding to work today, the first really warm day this year and my marking of the start of spring, I was seeing a lot of gravel on the road at intersections. Would have thought it would be gone by now. The desire to carve through turns, even at intersections, is a siren calling to a rider. A dangerous call at best. A racetrack can provide a predictable road surface. Not many other places can.
“I could have dumped the scooter there.” I though to myself on one ubiquitous turn. And hot on the heals of that thought has a recognition of risk. It’s something the raises its hand from time to time.
Reflect on Risk
I watched it again today and it holds up well with many reminders of the risks on the road to machine and man (and woman). As the riding season starts again for many riders I think it’s always good to spend a few moments in silent meditation on the amount of risk you’re willing to assume, how your riding skills (or lack thereof) influence the risk you face, and what, if anything, you’re willing to do to mitigate risk.
What Can You Do About Your Own Riding Risk?
There’s no way around it — riding a scooter or motorcycle is dangerous. According to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, your chances of dying on a motorcycle are 35 times higher than in a car, calculated on a per-mile basis. Reading that statistic reminds me that I should look for ways to mitigate some of the risk — at least the things in my control.
- Don’t drink and ride — alcohol is involved in a big percentage of fatal motorcycle crashes.
- Don’t ride beyond your skills — a lot of riding accidents don’t involve another vehicle but instead are caused by a rider getting into a situation they can’t handle. Most cases that means going too fast.
- Ride defensively — a motorcycle or scooter isn’t a car. Don’t pretend it is. Assume you’re invisible, you never have the right of way, and are not entitled to road rage when on two wheels.
- Wear a helmet. (Unless your helmet-less head is an important expression of your individuality and trumps health or survival concerns)
I won’t go on about training or maintenance of the machine. That stuff is obvious.
So have a look at the film. If you’ve seen it already it’s worth watching again. If only for the reminder of the unexpected.
How do you think about your own risk on the road?