Tag Archive for motorcycle safety foundation

Riding: When Bad Luck Becomes Worst Luck

Sometimes, an accident is just a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

In Peoria Thursday, a pickup truck rear-ended a motorcyclist and pinned him beneath a second pickup. In a strange repeat of a Utah accident, the bike caught fire and bystanders ran to lift the pickup off the motorcyclist and drag him to safety. It was last reported he is in critical condition. Like the Utah rider, he was not wearing a helmet.

Today the news broke the pickup driver may have had a seizure behind the wheel. It’s hard to say how this would have been avoided. There’s no clear exit for the motorcyclist, no steering clear or something like that. It’s one of those things that just happens, and it happened to be a motorcycle.

However, I see the pickup driver was also cited for operating an uninsured motor vehicle. That’s bullshit. It doesn’t matter whether he hit a motorcyclist or another car, he caused a lot of damage to two vehicles, severely injured someone, and could have done a lot worse. Now the victims are left on the hook for their vehicle and medical bills, and have to either deal with their own insurance companies (and take hits on premiums) or try to sue the pickup driver. It’s insult to injury.

I rode my own bike through Peoria after midnight last night. I still had no fear, but these things serve to heighten awareness. I checked my mirror a lot more often than usual, and I recalled my MSF lessons about always leaving an escape. For example, don’t ride up on someone’s bumper or stop in the center of the lane, because it’s going to be much harder—if not impossible—to slip out on one side if you see a rear-end collision coming. I also try to stay in gear at stop lights so I can get moving in a hurry.

Would I have avoided a collision like this? Maybe, maybe not. But we should all do our best to keep our skills sharp and minimize our risk.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Motorcycle Rescue

It doesn’t get much more horrifying than that.

This video’s been making the rounds, usually taken from condensed, local news broadcasts and reporting, so I went straight for the raw video after I heard about it. It’s amazing seeing so many people pitching in to help out, and the guy is very fortunate to have survived.

Once again we have an instance where a driver did not see the motorcyclist and pulled out in front of him. Unfortunately, it looks like the motorcyclist made it worse by laying the bike down and sliding into the car.

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation teaches laying a bike down is not an avoidance strategy. For starters, there’s more traction in rubber than in metal. This is why riders like to say “shiny side up”: rubber will stop the bike, chrome will not. Second, if the bike’s on its side and the rider is on the ground, both have just become another piece of debris skidding across the road. A rider may lose steering if he locks up the brakes, but there’s zero steering and little hope of stopping if he’s just skidding across asphalt.

Instead the MSF instructs riders to ride out the crash. If you’re going to hit, you’re better off taking off as much speed as possible before impact. Reduce speed, reduce injury.

I don’t know where this motorcyclist learned to ride and it’s pointless to second-guess what he saw and felt in the last seconds before the accident. Again, he’s very fortunate to have survived at all, especially given he wasn’t wearing leather or a helmet. My takeaways from the accident and the story are:

  1. Wear a goddamn helmet.
  2. If you’re going to ride, get a proper education from the MSF or similar source. Sure, Uncle Eddie may have decades of experience on his beefed-up Harley and he may be a great rider, but that doesn’t automatically make him a great teacher.
  3. Don’t lay the bike down. Better to end up on the hood than under it.

Now I’m reminded I didn’t make the time to take the MSF’s Experienced Rider Course this year. Time to put a reminder on my calendar for Spring.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

The Zen of Motorcycling

My Motorcycle Safety Foundation instructors hammered a phrase home: “You go where you look.”

It reminded me a bit of the old saying “keep your eyes on the prize,” but the difference is you can actually feel the motorcycle maxim at work every time you turn. If you’re not looking at where you want to be, you’re going to end up off course because your body tends to steer a bike toward where you’re looking. If you’re negotiating a turn and you’re looking at the shoulder instead of through the turn, then you’re going to take a ride on the shoulder.

Better hope there’s no gravel.

I got to thinking about that again the other night, and I had a Zen moment: maybe I’ve stopped looking at my writing goal.

I’m focused on my karate, and things are going very well. I’m focused on my family, and that, too, is going very well. Even my job is going well. My writing, however, has been very slow of late. Sure, I’ve had a few small triumphs, with Deadliest of the Species hitting the German market and another sale still to be announced, but I haven’t achieved my ultimate goal of having a steady stream of work hitting the shelves.

Maybe I’ve stopped looking. I’ve let other things distract me, and now I’m off on the shoulder somewhere. To break it down further, maybe I’m spending too much time looking at RSS feeds and surfing the web and not enough looking at that word processor window.

I’ve surrounded myself with the tools, no doubt about that. For example, all of my computers are armed with OpenOffice.org or NeoOffice. I carry my Moleskine just about everywhere I go. I recently bought a new lap desk for writing notes in the car. I’ve got this blog and I do the whole social networking thing. I’ve got a printer when I need it, access to plenty of reference materials, and of course email for corresponding with editors, publishers, and colleagues (not to mention the few fans I hear from). I even rented a post office box the other day because I’ve been getting signature requests. I’ve also got more time than ever this summer, because working in education rocks hard.

In short, I’ve got my new bike and I’ve got my metaphorical writing bike. Now I need to spend more time looking at the destination for my writing career. I have a good idea of where that destination is, I just need to do a better job of aiming for it.

Right after I swim with my kids for a little while. ;)

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.