Sharing the Road with Two Wheelers: Understanding the Dangers and the Risk

Extending an arm out the window helps us feel the wind and the sun on our faces and body. There’s a greater thrill for cyclists and motorcyclists, who describe the feeling of peddling or riding on the open road in words closely synonymous with “freedom.” Starting in spring and waning in late fall, two-wheelers are especially prevalent on our roads. Even on long straightaways, two-wheelers can sometimes vanish or appear small in the early morning or late evenings, despite donning reflectors and lights. With a noticeable number of travelers sharing the road, it is important to take extra precaution for every type of “rider.” Not all have the experience of riding with helmets, jackets, and other clothing to protect the body from unexpected objects; however, with understanding and precaution, everyone who travels on the open road can ensure a safe arrival home

“Honk! Honk!”

As motorists, the keen desire to not be obstructed from driving, what may be termed as, “slowly” can, unfortunately, cause dangerous actions. A motorist traveling less than one car length away and edging even closer is a motorcyclist’s worst fear.   Not all “riders” weave in and out of traffic, disobeying the rules. While the motorcyclist can clearly see objects in the road such as small potholes, loose gravel, and uneven grooved patterns, he or she will deliberately drive more carefully and slowly in the name of safety. The front and back tire has approximately three square inches of rubber touching the road. Road conditions are a significant road hazard and a pothole may cost a motorcyclist his life. One important fact to keep in mind when driving near motorcyclists is that a motorcycle weighs around 600 pounds, and can stop much faster than a vehicle; therefore, when driving behind a motorcycle, please do not tailgate. The best practice of safety is to provide a distance of four car lengths. The motorcyclist is well aware of you and your needs.

Blind Spots

Bicyclists can be spotted even peripherally by their bright neon clothing and, sometimes, colorful helmets. While every reflector is necessary, few attach the tall, whippy wands with an orange flag on their bikes that encourages attention. These and other types of alerts are needed, especially when a “biker” is both unseen and unheard. Motorcyclists may have headlights and brake lights, and turn signals, yet, are not viewed with the same capacity as other full-sized vehicles. While bicyclists and motorcyclists are observing both the road and vehicles traveling by their side, it is important to watch your blind spots and take special notice with those traveling in a group, single file. Do not trust your mirrors; instead, use your turn signal to make your intentions known, and take the time to check over your shoulder before changing lanes and fully opening car doors.

Rain and Bugs!

Motorcyclists and bicyclists all have different definitions of why they enjoy the ride; yet, one word is clear: freedom. We all want to be connected to the air, sun, and fragrant smells that transition from one location to the next. Every minute a “rider” is traveling the open road, an unsuspecting danger can occur. Our minds may consider the threat of dust and pebbles, rocks or a passing gale; yet, riders are prone to other threats such as raindrops and bugs. You may have a personal memory from youth peddling down a semi-steep hill and enjoying the moment of wind until a sharp pain makes contact with your arm. Yes, a bug or rain drop that connects with a helmet can alter the speed and visibility of the protected biker. Most feel the need for open freedom is usually worth it.

Whether your mode of transportation is a vehicle, motorcycle, or bicycle, please take care of others who share the road in pursuit of travel and freedom!