Review staff and submitted
Now that summer is upon us, motorcycles in central Alberta have become much more prevalent and as such, RCMP Detachments both locally and throughout the province have initiated a campaign to ensure safe riding practices among motorcycle drivers.
Known as the Alberta Traffic Safety Plan and Road Safety Vision 2010, the campaign is aimed both at stressing the importance of safe riding habits while on motorcycles as well as making drivers of other vehicles on the roads aware of bikes and to be extra cautious.
“Obviously during the summer months there are many more motorcycles out there and it’s something we’d like to bring to the attention of all other motorists who are using the road,” said Cst. Steven Ip of the Sylvan Lake/Bentley RCMP. We would like to remind them to be more cognizant of motorcycles sharing the roadways with them and that they also need to be following the rules as well.”
In light of the recent tragedy involving Luc Bourdon, a promising rookie with the Vancouver Canucks who was killed in a head-on collision on May 29 of this year just two days after he purchased his new motorcycle, Ip said it is vitally important that all new motorcycle drivers put in a lot of practice prior to taking to the road and to become familiar with the bike’s safety equipment.
“Basically, myself being a motorcyclist as well, I cannot stress the importance of getting some kind of basic motorcycle training and a driving school would be the best,” Ip said. “Any reputable motorcycle riding school would tell you that you definitely need to practice and know your motorcycle very well. Having a new toy to play with is definitely something that people are going to have to deal with but knowing all the ins and outs of your motorcycle is something that everyone has to keep in mind.”
It goes without saying that motorcycle drivers are much more vulnerable than drivers of regular vehicles and thus the importance of paying attention and being aware of the biker’s surroundings is heightened.
“As a motorcyclist, you have to be a lot more careful than a regular motor vehicle driver. Simply, safety is the primary issue. If you’re only wearing a helmet, gloves and protective gear, it’s still not a comparative safety advantage over a regular passenger vehicle,” Ip said. “You have to be a lot more careful because you’re a lot smaller than even a small, compact vehicle, you have to look out more often and be a lot more aware of your surroundings than a regular motor vehicle driver.”
Ip added that in the event of a collision between a regular vehicle and a motorcycle, the motorcycle would invariably take the brunt of the collision.
According to a press release issued by the RCMP, the enforcement-driven initiative is designed to increase public compliance with safe driving practices and ultimately, to save lives.
During the month of July RCMP activities will involve targeted enforcement in the areas of motorcycle safety, speed, impaired driving (alcohol/drugs/fatigue), and all aspects of aggressive driving for all road users – drivers, riders and even pedestrians. In addition, the RCMP is implementing an education campaign to address the importance of safe driver behaviour.
“We also want to raise the public’s awareness about how they can improve safety on our roadways and we want to make road users aware of common behaviours that reduce road safety,” says Inspector James Stiles, Officer-in-Charge “K” Division Traffic Services.
A motorcyclist’s relationship with the road has more to do with the journey than the destination. Freedom is part of the motorcycle experience but along with that freedom comes a higher risk. Motorcyclists often don’t have the same distractions as drivers in a car (cup holders, cell phones, CD players, computer plug-ins, etc) but they still need to be aware that the drivers around them might have their minds focused on other things.
The RCMP is asking drivers to be aware of motorcyclists out on the road and to be aware of the space motorcyclists need to maintain their safety on the road.
“Look twice for motorcyclists when approaching intersections or changing lanes and never underestimate the speed of a bike,” Stiles said. “Failure to yield the right of way is a leading cause of collisions.”
The RCMP also wants to remind motorcyclists that when they head out on the road, they represent thousands of people who love to ride. Motorcyclists are encouraged to ride defensively and make every effort to enhance their visibility. They are encouraged to be alert at intersections and make eye contact with drivers before proceeding to stay aware of what’s going on behind them because a rear-end crash can be deadly and to position themselves to be seen and stay out of drivers’ blind spots.