Hoooo doggie! It was a big ‘ol mess on July 24 when hundreds of bikers blocked I-25. A giant group of motorcyclists participated in an event they called “Kill Da Streetz,” which they said was intended to promote motorcycle safety awareness. However, even hard-core bikers have lambasted the participants and the “event,” saying it put bikers and auto drivers in harm’s way, created a backlash against bikers in general, and ultimately had the opposite effect that it purported to have.
“There are people who work 365/24/7 to get a positive message out so that drivers can see us and not run into us, but your event took us back to caveman days. Biker’s lives matter and you made our work 10 times harder.”
Laurie Easton-Montoya, founder of BikerDown, had this to say about the event, “Let me be abundantly clear! You 100 bikers who scared people, ran rampant in the streets and did stupid tricks: you do not represent the biker community. Your message got lost in the carelessness and lack of consideration for everyone around you. There are people who work 365/24/7 to get a positive message out so that drivers can see us and not run into us, but your event took us back to caveman days. Biker’s lives matter and you made our work 10 times harder.”
Here’s what some of Denver’s media had to say and the footage they shared:
At one point on Sunday, police say the mass of riders stopped and blocked all lanes of traffic on northbound I-25 near University Boulevard. The group was also seen disregarding red lights downtown and weaving in and out of cars on a crowded Park Avenue as fans headed to a Rockies game.”
We’re not going to tolerate that behavior on the roads and highways,” said Denver Police spokesperson Doug Schepman.
“Investigators plan to use the city’s public nuisance ordinance to seize the bikes. That means property could be seized for up to a year, and there would also be fines and fees associated with the seizure.” Check out their footage of the event’s start.
So, I thought this would be an excellent time to share some tried-and-true motorcycle safety awareness tips for keeping motorcyclists safe on the road – for both bikers and car drivers.
Motorcyclists: Be Noticeable!
If you’re noticeable, you’re less likely to be hit! I firmly believe that most car drivers want to avoid motorcyclists and to give them the right of way, but so often after an accident, a car driver says, “I never saw them!”
There are a couple of easy ways to make yourself noticeable so that drivers don’t move into your lane.
- First, use your headlight all the time: Currently, 86 percent of motorcycles on the road have their headlights on during the daytime, which has improved safety significantly. Some safety experts also recommend using your high beam during the day. This helps car drivers see you, even if you’re in and out of their blind spot.
- Wear bright clothing: I sure wish more of my biker friends would heed this point. One of the easiest and most effective ways for a motorcyclist to be seen by car drivers is to wear brightly colored clothing or reflective materials. We’ve all seen the riders on sport bikes who have embraced this idea, wearing bright reds and yellows. But most biker communities tend to wear black and other dark colors, even on their heads (which are hopefully covered by helmets). You could make yourself a lot safer if you just brighten up your clothing a bit.
Conspicuous motorcycles and riders are less likely to be in an accident. So, get conspicuous!
Car Drivers: Be Hyper-Aware
Now, car drivers, motorcycle safety awareness applies to you, too! Once you see a motorcyclist, you need to take extra precautions to keep him or her safe. Yes, their safety is your responsibility, too! Here are a few things you can do around motorcyclists:
- Give them space: Treat motorcycles like they are as big as other vehicles. They have a lot more to think about than you do. Passing trucks can create wind gusts that might destabilize them. Sudden stops by the car in front of them can force them to take evasive action. Debris in the road might force them to pull to the right or left suddenly. Also, your reactions may not be as speedy as theirs; if they brake suddenly, you might run right into their back end. This kind of accident might only cause a minor fender-bender when you hit another car but can be catastrophic when you hit a motorcycle.
- Communicate: Use your turn signal! Whether a biker is in front of you, behind you, or off to your side, they need to predict your every move. So, communicate your intentions well in advance so that bikers can adjust their own speed or path to accommodate you.
Motorcyclists: Be Hyper-Aware
OK, riders, we’ve got the auto drivers paying more attention to you. Now it’s time to do your part.
- Be predictable: Just like car drivers need to communicate their intentions to you, you need to be a predictable rider. No sudden bursts of speed or sudden stops. You’ll freak out the drivers around you, which could cause them to do things that jeopardize your safety. Use your turn signals and make eye contact with drivers when you can.
- Target open spaces: The more space you surround yourself with, the better. When you have lots of open space around you, chances are that you’re not in a driver’s blind spot.
- Stay alert: You need to be a lot more vigilant of your surroundings than a car driver because you are more vulnerable. If anything happens on the road ahead of you, you need to be aware of it so that you can adjust your riding quickly.
Motorcyclists: Buy the Right Bike
People aren’t even supposed to ride bicycles that don’t fit them or are geared too hard for them. You need to be even more picky about the motorcycle you ride!
- Don’t buy more bike than you can handle: Would you put someone you love on a bike that would rocket out from under them at a flicker of the throttle? No. So don’t do that to yourself. (Your loved ones would like to keep you around a bit longer, too.) Buy a bike that you can control.
- Buy a bike that fits you: Sit on it! Reach for the handlebars and drop your feet to the ground. When seated, you should easily be able to rest both feet flat on the ground. You should be able to reach all the controls easily. (And try this with your riding jacket on to be sure you can move easily in your gear.)
Motorcyclists: Take Lessons
You can learn myriad life-saving skills in just one day of riding lessons. One day could save your life! If that’s not enough incentive, there’s also a possible financial incentive. Sometimes insurance companies give discounts to riders who take approved safety courses and some motorcycle manufacturers offer a credit toward the cost of a new motorcycle if you take a safety course. If you won’t do it for yourself, do it for the people who love you and want to see you come home in one piece after a great day of riding.
If you have any questions about this article, give me a call at (303) 388-5304 or send me an email!