The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Editorials

April 17, 2014

Proceed with caution | Motorcyclists face spring obstacles

JOHNSTOWN — This past weekend’s mild weather brought out an abundance of motorcyclists. Bikers were riding everything from the smallest dirt bikes to the largest highway cruisers.

We know that motorcycle enthusiasts can’t wait to hit the roads after having to park their rides for the winter. They love the freedom that riding a motorcycle provides.

However, we would hope that they are aware of the hazards that await the early birds.

Anti-skid material was applied with zeal to area highways this past winter and, to the unsuspecting biker, it can be the same as driving on marbles or ice. It can throw even the most experienced biker to the pavement in the blink of an eye.

Also, spring has been known to usher in some strong winds, which can play havoc with a motorcycle if the driver is not paying attention. A powerful gust can easily cause a biker to lose control.

We don’t mean to spell doom and gloom to motorcycle riding. We just want everyone on two wheels – and three wheels – to be safe.

And we pass along the following suggestions from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation to help bikers achieve that goal:

-- There are more cars and trucks on the road than motorcycles and some drivers don’t recognize, or choose to ignore, motorcycles.

-- Motorcycles, because of their narrow profile, often can get lost in a car’s blind spot. Everyone on the road should take extreme caution when changing lanes or at intersections.

-- Bikers often slow down by shifting gears or rolling out of the throttle, thus not activating their brake light. Other drivers should be aware of bikers slowing in front of them.

-- Turn signals on motorcycles usually are not self-canceling. Never try to guess what the biker in front of you intends to do.

-- To draw more attention to themselves, motorcyclists should always turn on their headlights.

-- Bikers should always assume that they are invisible to other drivers, and remember the foundation’s SEE strategy – Search, Evaluate and Execute.

-- Riders should always signal their next move in advance.

-- Cyclists should wear leather or other protective material. The only thing that will prevent a biker from catching a severe case of road rash should he crash is his clothing.

-- Know your bike and how to drive it.

We suggest that all motorcyclists to take a few moments and inspect their bikes before heading out on the highway for the first time this year. Make sure your tires are properly inflated, all your lights – especially brake, tail and headlights – are in proper working condition and that your brakes are functioning properly.

We want you to have fun on your motorcycle, but we also want you to stay safe.

We also want to take a moment to make other motorists aware that they now have to share the road with motorcyclists.

If we all remain alert, we can arrive alive.

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