The month of May is earmarked as National Motorcycle Safety and Awareness Month, the brainchild of congress launched in 2004. Coinciding with the springtime kickoff to the riding season, the goal is “To promote motorcycle awareness and safety and to encourage all citizens to safely share the roads and highways of this great Nation by paying extra attention to those citizens who ride motorcycles.”
As riders, we naturally believe the focus of a motorcycle awareness month should be on car drivers. After all, more than half of all fatal motorcycle collisions involve another vehicle, according to the Motor Safety Foundation. Motorists are encouraged to safely share the road with motorcycles and to be extra alert to help keep motorcyclists safe. Motorcyclists are reminded to make themselves visible to other motorists.
While these suggestions and recommendations are undoubtedly great advice, there is another aspect to motorcycle awareness that should also be encouraged: being an exemplary motorcyclist.
As riders, we’re already sold on the joys and benefits of motorcycles. But many non-riders aren’t so fond of two-wheeled transport. Riders may think you meet the nicest people on a Honda (or Triumph or Ducati, etc.), but many car drivers openly show antipathy to our hobby/sport.
So, while we’re asking cage drivers to show us the respect of awareness while sharing the road, I’d like to encourage you all to put your best boot forward while you’re riding this month. Be a model citizen, a citizen who happens to choose riding a motorcycle for their transportation. Here are a few suggestions for shining a positive light on riding and riders.
Keep in mind that, as riders, we’re a distinct minority out there on the roads. Motorcycles made up just 3% of all registered vehicles in the United States in 2011, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), and we accounted for only 0.6% of all vehicle miles traveled.
It behooves us all to ensure we’re a pleasant minority rather than a nuisance. Let’s show the rest of the motoring world that we deserve their respect.