Thursday, June 30, 2011
A good friend of mine posed a question about motorcycles to me the other day. He asked if I had seen bikes that had headlights that alternated between high beam and low beam, back and forth, in an apparent effort to be seen better by passing motorists. While I had not, it doesn't surprise me that a motorcyclist would want to be seen better. Unlike cars, headlights on all street motorcycles come on when you start the engine. You have the option to flip to high beam, but that is your choice based on preference or need due to your driving conditions. Many motorcyclists choose to run their high beams in the daytime, in an effort to be seen better by cars and inattentive drivers. Since my bike is a touring model with a full fairing and 3 headlights (one primary and two optional), I choose to remain in low beam during the daytime. If I feel like an approaching car is not paying attention and drifting out of his lane, I will flash my high beam at him just to make sure he sees me. Driving at night is a different story. It's a fact that more accidents happen at night versus the daylight. The statistics are even worse for motorcycles. Motorcycles aren't seen as easily by motorists due to their lower profile. You probably won't miss that Mack truck or semi tractor trailer chugging past you, but how many times have you not seen a motorcycle in the lane you were about to change in to? Motorcyclists must be even more cautious and defensive when driving in the dark than they are in the daylight hours. In addition to watching out for inattentive drivers, motorcyclists must carefully watch the road for potholes and debris not easily seen in the dark as in the daytime. Hitting an object or a big hole in the road could mean dumping your bike and possibly being struck by oncoming vehicles following you. Even with lights on, it's not as easy to pick up bumps in the road, so be careful. If you are in a car or truck and see a motorcycle, give him some room and pay attention to the road. Everyone wants to get home and eat dinner. Don't ruin some one's day by not paying attention when you're driving. Be careful out there!
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Even though this spring has begun to feel more like summer, I have enjoyed venturing out on my motorcycle lately. Other than the irritating sound of cicadas, this past Saturday was a gorgeous day in St. Louis with temps in the high 80's and plentiful sunshine. Besides experiencing driving in a completely different way from behind the wheel of an automobile, the neat thing about being on a motorcycle is the camaraderie with fellow riders. When passing another motorcycle going the opposite direction, it is customary to wave. This is usually done by extending your left arm out low and to the side. Now the thing I like about waving to another biker dude (or dude-ette) is that it makes you feel good and respected. The really neat thing is that for the most part it makes no difference what kind of bike you're on. For example, I ride a Harley, but guys on Honda's and sport bikes wave to me and I wave to them. It makes no difference. This doesn't happen in cars. When was the last time you waved to someone you didn't know, while driving in your car? (and I don't mean the one finger salute!) Motorcyclists are all brothers and sisters on the open road. So check us out, and if you don't have a motorcycle, look into it. With gas close to 4 bucks, it's nice getting 45 mpg and feeling excited about being on the open road instead of dreading the commute.