A student in the Motorcycle Operator Safety class will not actually operate their bike on the streets during the class. However, they will learn techniques and procedures to safely ride in traffic. This article will discuss just a few of those techniques.
One of the advantages to riding a motorcycle compared to driving a car is a vastly reduced, if not completely eliminated blind spot. One of the most dangerous situations that can occur while driving in traffic is changing lanes. On a motorcycle a rider has the ability to take a quick look to one side or the other to see if the lane is open. In a car, you have to take a substantially longer look over the shoulder because there are obstructions to your view. On a motorcycle, the proper procedure for a lane change is to signal your intent well ahead of time, and then take a quick look over your shoulder to make sure the lane is open. Once you have determined the lane is open, gently push down on the handlebar in the direction you want to move. After moving into your lane position in the new lane, ease pressure off the handlebar to straighten out and proceed forward.
Another advantage to riding a motorcycle is the ability to quickly accelerate. Most motorcycles are going to be substantially faster than a car. This is especially useful when passing other vehicles. The proper procedure for passing other vehicles is all about lane position. First off, you want to move into the left portion of your current lane. This will help you to see around the vehicles in front of you to make sure there are not any vehicles approaching in the other lane. It is important to not take any chances when passing other vehicles. Make sure the other lane is going to be open for plenty of time to make the pass. It is impossible to tell how fast cars are approaching in the other lane, and a head on collision would almost certainly result in a fatality. Once you have analyzed the other lane and decided it is safe to pass, signal your intent. Next, you will accelerate and shift over into the far left side of the other lane. This is done in order to maximize the space cushion between you and the vehicle that you are passing. Making sure that you are well ahead of the car you are passing, signal your intent to re-enter your original lane. Then gently ease back into proper lane position in front of the vehicle you just passed.
As stated before, the added speed is a definite advantage of riding a motorcycle. However, it is very important to not abuse that power. Driving down the highway you will often see someone riding through traffic on a sport bike at very high speeds, weaving in and out of cars. Though this is probably quite exhilarating and fun, it is also extremely dangerous. One tiny misjudgment could be the last mistake that rider will ever make. It is very possible to have a blast riding a motorcycle without being unsafe. Many raceways will have open track times for those drivers and motorcyclists who need that adrenaline rush. It is much better to take it to a controlled environment than to risk the life of yourself and others.
One of the best parts of riding a motorcycle is the camaraderie you have with other riders. Riding with other motorcyclists is one of the best parts of owning a bike. Along with the joy come a few more things to learn, such as how to ride in groups. The suggested way to ride in groups is to stagger lane position. For example, the leader is on the right side of the lane, followed by the next rider in the left portion of the lane, and so on. Once again, the reason for this is all about maximizing space cushion between yourself and others. It is not recommended to ride side by side. However, riding side by side is not illegal. Novice riders should get a little experience before trying to ride side by side with other motorcyclists. No matter how seasoned the riders, no one should ride side by side around curves. Riding in a group also requires some communication before leaving. Every motorcyclist in the group should know the destination, and how to get there. This will keep riders who fall behind from having to ride unsafely to catch up. Not only that, but it will also prevent anyone from having to make a hasty maneuver to stay behind the leader. Follow these simple procedures, and everyone will have a better ride.