Motorcycle tragedies demand attention

What’s that up ahead? Oh, it’s just a bike!

Look again. That motorcycle is carrying someone’s son or daughter, mother, father or grandparents.

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A number of motorcyclists have met with tragedy this spring and early summer, before the calendar flipped to July.

These heart-breaking tragedies include the loss of a Virden/Oak Lake wife and mother, as well as two people from Strathclair, a woman from Souris, and three others in western Manitoba. 

Motorcycles don’t take up much of the road, or so it would appear at first glance. But in truth, they take up the whole driving lane; and, they are travelling as fast as every vehicle on the highway and maybe faster than some.

When you see a bike ahead on the highway, in your mind, replace that image with that of a half-ton, or an SUV.

Would you pull out with that truck coming? Would you let your attention wander with an SUV in front of you? In fact, a motorcycle is less predictable than either of those vehicles and the motorcyclists are very vulnerable.

In comparison to most other vehicles on the road, bikes are far smaller and can accelerate and decelerate far faster than car drivers are accustomed to.

Bikers know that. They know they practically have to drive as though they are invisible. That’s exactly what the lady riders (Women Riders World Rally – WRWR) in the world’s largest motorcycle rally told me last weekend as they toured on the TransCanada to Virden.

They know people don’t see them as easily as they see cars. They also feel as though traffic does not take them seriously.

Every biker you speak to can tell you of the times they narrowly escaped a serious accident. The incident when a car or truck treated them as though they weren’t there and pulled into their lane.

It’s a game of wits and motorcyclists need defensive strategies.

Among the Women Riders World Rally (WRWR) Laurie Cardinal, with a big quiet Honda touring bike, admitted that she liked to ride with Harleys. Their rumble makes their presence known.

There are great safety tips for motorcyclists on the website Even a fraction of a second difference in reaction time can be the difference between life and death.

  • Bright colours can exponentially increase the chance you’ll be noticed
  • Reflective tape increases the visual footprint of your motorcycle
  • Pass decisively (avoid drivers’ blind spots)
  • Tap your break lights to warn following vehicles to stay back
  • Run with high beams on in the day-time
  • Add auxiliary lights, high and wide
  • Have a loud horn and use it!

One final word of caution involves bicycles. By law, they also have the right to ride on the highway’s paved lane. Their speed is so slow compared to motor vehicles, it’s like they are stopped.

Bikes and motorbikes were made for this wonderful summer weather that we Manitobans live for. Watch out for them on your travels.

© Virden Empire-Advance