If you’re a biker, the open road is your playground. Still, you want to reach your destination in one piece. Follow these guidelines to stay safe.
1. Always wear protection
It’s the law of every province and territory: when riding a motorcycle, you need to wear a helmet that meets Canada’s universal helmet laws. Not having one is not only illegal, but can turn a minor road spill into deadly head trauma. Other gear to consider for your ride includes a motorcycle jacket, pants, boots and gloves. Ordinary fabric can protect you from sunburn and wind rash but are useless when you fall. Look for togs that resist tearing, such as those made from abrasion-resistant mesh or armour.
2. Keep your distance
Allow enough distance between your ride and the surrounding vehicles. Because you can stop on a dime relative to cars, you don’t have to worry about the space in front of you. However, that SUV in your rear can’t deal with your quick deceleration. So always take those vehicles behind you into account by slowing down gradually. Don’t forget to account for increased stopping distances when the ground is wet from rain or slippery from black ice and snow.
3. Stand out from the traffic
A motorcycle is a smaller and narrower vehicle than a standard road vehicle, so it’s less visible to drivers of cars and trucks. Call attention to yourself by wearing a helmet and clothing that’s brightly coloured and highly reflective. Don’t rely only on your lights to communicate your intentions because they’re relatively easy to miss by drivers. Instead, use hand signals, which will appear at the eye level of drivers. Establish eye contact with other drivers to get their attention.
4. Don’t pursue an endurance record
Driving a motorcycle is more taxing than driving a car, so allow yourself rest breaks, especially on long trips. Limit your daily distance to a maximum of 500 kilometres, or less if you’re travelling on exceptionally rough roads or hilly terrain. On hot days, remember to stay hydrated and wear sunblock on any exposed skin.