States across the country have begun to reopen, following the global Coronavirus pandemic. Many non-essential businesses that temporarily closed can now accept customers, but restrictions remain in place on a state-by-state basis, including for non-essential travel.
When you factor in motorists who have driven less often over the past few months, your next motorcycle ride becomes fraught with uncertainty. Consider the following points to help you prepare for a safe trip.
Roadways Will Have Less Traffic
A recent article in the New York Times described the experience of riding through the near-empty streets of New York City. Especially for urban motorcycle riders, this sounds like paradise: You don’t have to worry about traffic and can actually enjoy the open road.
Yet there’s one major catch: In an environment like this, some riders may be tempted to speed or forget to watch out for other road obstructions.
A driver may turn a corner without looking properly or a vehicle may back out of a blind driveway right into the street.
As you enjoy the freedom of less congested roads, obey the speed limit, be aware of your surroundings and ride defensively.
Motorists Are Not Expecting to See You
A report in the Seattle Times found that motorcycle accident rates started to increase in April and continued through May in Washington State, hitting the highest level since 2006.
Two factors likely point to this trend. For many riders, the motorcycle season started later than previous years. Typically, we’re back on our bikes and have completed a couple long-distance trips by April or May. Yet, motorists have primarily kept their cars and trucks in the driveway, only venturing out to the grocery store.
A lack of driving time may affect their skills behind the wheel, plus many are not expecting to see a motorcycle rider after all these months. We encourage motorists to double check their mirrors before making any maneuvers and maintain a safe distance from motorcyclists.
With these points in mind, keep the following points in mind before going for a ride:
- Reckless Motorists: Taking advantage of fewer cars on the road, some motorists may speed and risk losing control, especially around corners. This situation can be further exacerbated by getting behind the wheel while intoxicated. In all cases, keep a safe distance from other vehicles and never position yourself in a car or truck’s blind spot.
- Distracted Motorists: With fewer places open and new safety measures to contend with, motorists may be less aware of their surroundings as they worry about being out in public. With this in mind, always ride defensively and make eye contact with other drivers before pulling into traffic.
- Be Cautious: Do not attempt any risky maneuvers that could result in an accident. Many hospitals are still caring for COVID-19 patients and may have fewer resources available.
- Be Prepared: Pack snacks, bottled water, disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer and other essential items that will help you avoid making multiple stops.
- Maintain Social Distancing: Just because states are opening back up, that doesn’t mean everything goes back to normal. Keep your distance from other riders – keep group rides small and spaced out – wear a mask, hand protection, regularly sanitize your bike’s high-touch surfaces and wash your hands after each ride.
Schedule a Service Appointment
Many dealerships were deemed non-essential businesses and had to close their doors for several months. As bike shops start to reopen, schedule a maintenance appointment to check your fluids, battery, tires and other essential components.
Before taking any long trips, make sure your bike has been fully serviced and any necessary repairs made.
If you’ve been riding over the past few months, how have you faced the new challenges? Share your experiences on our Facebook page.