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Safe Riders

How do you define a safe rider? What makes a safe rider safe? How do you measure a rider's safety level? Is it someone who has never crashed? How about a rider who has never had a close call? Does having ridden for many years or logging tens, or hundreds, of thousands of miles qualify a biker as a safe rider? What about someone who has gone through a motorcycle safety class? Does that make them a safe rider?

I know a woman who received her motorcycle license after completing a beginning rider course over ten years ago. She's not been involved in a single crash since graduating from the class and she's never had any kind of close call that required her to make an evasive maneuver to avoid a crash. In fact, she hasn't even dropped her bike once in the past ten years. Would you consider her to be a safe rider? Now don't let the fact that she has not ridden a motorcycle in those ten years influence your answer.

So how do you identify a safe rider? Is someone who wears all the gear all the time a safe rider? Is a fully geared rider on a sport bike a safer rider than a partially geared one on a cruiser? How about a biker wearing no gear on a big touring bike? Which of these three would you consider to be the safest rider? Regardless of gear, is a touring rider safer than a rider of a cruiser style motorcycle? Are sport bike riders automatically less safe than other bikers on the road?

There are many types of motorcycle riders among us and we all ride for various reasons. Some ride their bikes to impress others. There are also the followers who adopt the riding style of the others in their group. Whether riding alone or with others, some bikers tend to ride their own way all the time. Still other riders have a consistent riding style that seems to set a standard for those around them. How does riding style weigh into your definition of safe riders?

I believe safe riding is a mindset that involves many things. It begins with being street legal by having a motorcycle license. Safe riders are willing to assume responsibility for their own safety on our streets and highways. They know they can't control the erratic behavior of others on the road so they try to manage the situations into which they get themselves. They select a position in traffic that allows them the greatest view of what's going on and maintain the time and space around them so they have an out if needed.

My biased view also includes training, but it goes beyond just attending a class. Not only do they pick up new techniques and refresh their skills during rider courses, they purposefully practice those procedures regularly. Safe riders are continuous learners when it comes to riding. They frequently attend advanced riding classes, study training videos and read motorcycle safety books and articles to improve their riding competency.

So what is your definition of a safe rider and where are you on this continuum? What can you do to become an even better and safer rider? What technique could you still learn that might avoid your next close call? Safe riding is an attitude. How is yours?

Ride Smart! Ride Safe!