Riding Safely

John Meyers had sent me this information and I would like to share it with the rest of the chapter.   Here are a few excerpts from the eBook written by Brian Whitworth, Of Riding Safely.             http://ridingsafely.com/index.html I recommend that you visit this website and read this valuable information.

Ron Walldren & Missy

Riding plugs you directly into the real world

Why ride safely? Well why ride a motorcycle at all? Riding is fun, a joy, a feeling of being free. I started riding because it was a cheap way to go from A to B. That’s still true, but riding is also a great way to go from A to B. People ride for many reasons, but for me, now, it’s the experience. Riding plugs you directly into the real world. For a time you forget everything but the here and now. Its a sense of “being there” that’s more than fun – its life incarnate.


Riding safely is for riders who enjoy riding, and want to keep doing it

If you enjoy something, don’t you want to keep doing it? This book helps you do just that, because if you can’t ride safely, you won’t ride long. Few ride motorcycles to be safe, but equally few ride with a death wish (or a hospital bed wish). Given fun or safety, I choose fun and safety. Why trade short term pleasure for long term pain, when you can have long term pleasure? Real riding and real safety can go together. Riding safely is for motorcycle riders who enjoy riding, and want to keep doing it.


Riding safely means managing risk

Riding safely means managing risk, but what is risk? Risk has two parts. The most obvious is the degree of damage, but risk also depends on the chance the damage will happen.


For example, planes are risky because plane crashes are so horrible. Yet your chances of being in a plane crash are far less than your chances of being a car crash. So this makes planes less risky, and indeed people are much more likely to die on the road than in the air. Riding a bicycle is risky for a different reason. People riding bicycles, especially young people, quite often fall off, though usually they are not hurt badly. Here the risk comes from the likelihood of hurt, not the degree of hurt.

If risk depends on both the degree of damage, and the chance of damage, there are two ways to reduce it:

  1. Reduce the degree of damage, e.g. with protective gear.
  2. Reduce the chance of damage, e.g. by safe riding skills.


This book advocates both ways.


A good risk sense is critical for riders

Naive people just see what is, but with experience, one “sees” what might happen. This “sense of risk” is your ability to know the likelihood of accident. This sense is not like vision or hearing, as it comes from the mind, not your eyes and ears, but a good risk sense is critical for riders. Experienced riders re-assess the current risk every moment they are riding along. It is like a value their mind calculates, that goes up and down as they ride. It is like a snake sensing the heat of its prey with its tongue, or like a Geiger counter that clicks when radio-activity is near. Your risk sense picks up when there is danger. Without it, you are like a sheep among wolves.


When you start riding, it is important to listen to your risk sense, as this is the key to learning to ride safely. If you ride without a helmet, your risk sense should tell you your risk is up, as your possible damage is up. If it starts raining, your risk sense should tell you your risk is up, because the chance of an accident just increased. Now what you do next is another thing, and a lot of this book covers that. However to respond to risk, you have to first “sense” it. From moment to moment, your risk sense guides you, but you have to listen to it.


Male intuition  I believe in male intuition. Everyone knows about female intuition, when a women has a bad “feeling” about someone or some situation, but few talk about male intuition. Perhaps women have a better publicity department. Women’s intuitions about people can seem like mind reading, but male intuition is just as powerful , and can seem like precognition. It is when in a physical situation you know what will happen. In both cases one knows intuitively what one should not. The trick however is to trust it. Suppose you were riding and suddenly, for no apparent reason, got a feeling to slow down – would you? I would. Political correctionists note that both men and women have male and female aspects in them, e.g. all men and all women have both male and female hormones running around in their bodies. So both men and women can have female and male intuitions.


People tend to flip-flop on risk. One approach is to shut your eyes and charge blindly ahead like a bull. The other is to open your eyes, see the danger, and be paralyzed like a deer in headlights, or run away like a frightened rabbit. Both approaches, fight and flight, have their problems.


Taking risks proves you are not afraid. It also shows that you are stupid

The brave deal with risk by confronting it. They do wheelies, and other risky things, to “prove” danger has no power over them. They are not scared. It is a macho thing to take risks to prove you are not afraid. It also shows that you are stupid. It is stupid to act as if you are above life. The Greeks called this stupidity “hubris” (or pride), and said ‘Pride comes before a fall”. They argued that because we are not “gods”, to act like we are is to invite their revenge. It is to “tempt fate”. My view is that there is a law of life that “accidents happen”, and this applies especially to motorcycle riders. To tempt fate is to arrogantly think one is above this law of unexpected events. There is enough risk in the world already without asking for more.

Daedalus, an ancient Greek, once designed some wings so he and his son Icarus could escape from a prison. Despite his father’s warnings, Icarus tried to fly up towards to the Sun. The heat of the Sun melted the wax holding on his wings, and he fell into the sea and was drowned. This ancient story shows how pride comes before a fall. In riding, it is equally important to know your limits.


Ignoring a risk makes you feel better, but doesn’t alter the risk

The opposite of tempting fate, of choosing to be risky, is to ignore risk entirely. While some unwisely tempt fate, others deal with risk by shutting it out, like an ostrich with its head in the sand. They tend to only only ride slowly on sunny Sunday afernoons, so can ignore the risks of everyday riding. Pretending there is no risk might make you feel better, but it doesn’t alter the risk. In fact it increases it, because not knowing of a threat makes it harder to handle. You can better deal with what is out there if you know about it. Risk is like a menacing dog – the more you avoid it, the more it will chase you. The best way deal with risk is to face it, but not invite it in, the “eyes wide open” approach.



Risk seekers are as obsessed by risk as those that run from it

Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to riding a motorcycle. Nor is bravado. On a motorcycle, risk is the enemy. Deal with it neither by seeking it nor by ignoring it. Deal with it by knowing it. If you know your enemy, then forewarned is forearmed, and you know how to deal with it. Risk seekers are just as obsessed by risk as those that avoid it. The opposite of both is to not to be hypnotized by risk. You see the risk, but neither move towards it nor away from it. This “eyes wide open” approach has three parts:


  • Face risk(as a reality of life). • Deal with it (as best you can). • Accept the outcome (whatever it is).


Facing risk means accepting it as part of life. Dealing with risk means managing your degrees of freedom, as this book explains. Accepting the outcome means understanding that we propose but the world disposes, so we never know what will happen. The value of acceptance is it lets you think about the unthinkable – like a crash. If you can’t accept that crashes happen, you cant think about them, and if you cant think about them, you cant avoid them.

Part of adapting is to never hurry. If you are in a hurry you have a fixed goal. A fixed goal means you cant adapt as well. The attitude of hurrying contributes more to accidents than speeding. More accidents involve right of way and failing to give way than involve speeding. I say forget speed, but never hurry.


Hurrying is never worth it, as it increases every other accident cause

When you hurry, your attitude is GO! GO! GO! Hurrying makes you not wear gear (reduces readiness), not respect weather conditions, and ignore road situations. Don’t be misled because hurrying sometimes works. It always increases your accident probability, i.e. your risk. You can hurry 99 times and be OK, but one day, you may be slowed down for life. Hurrying is never worth it, as it increases every other accident cause. When two hurriers meet on the road, it is usually in accident alley.


The never hurry rule applies especially in two situations:

  • Intersections
  • Changing lanes

Both these situations involve cross-flows.

This one decision can reduce your accident chances enormously

Decide right now to NEVER EVER HURRY at intersections or when changing lanes. This one decision can reduce your accident chances enormously. When you hurry, you put yourself above the world. You have your plan, which makes you hurry, but Life also has its Plan. Life’s Plan will always take precedence over your plan. Trust me on this. Hurrying causes accidents, as it disconnects you from the world. So tune into the world, not yourself. Never hurry, unless you wish to hurry to disaster







An intersection is a high risk traffic cross-flow

Most accidents occur at intersections, so whatever your initial speed, always slow down as you pass through the intersection. Never accelerate into an intersection, e.g. to beat a red light. I can’t stress this enough. If the light turns red, accept it and stop – that’s life. You can’t win them all (except in your dreams). At intersections the rule is: stop accelerating, drop a gear and cover the brake. Be ready to stop, because an intersection is a high risk traffic cross-flow.


Highways solve the problem of intersections. However they create another problem just as bad – that of changing lanes. Many highway accidents occur when people change lanes. So the rule is: never be in a hurry to change lanes. A sudden lane change is an invitation to an accident party. If you don’t have time to change lanes, then don’t . Just stay in the lane where you are, and then you will live well and prosper.


Question: Sometimes I find I am in the wrong lane for my highway turn-off,. If I miss it, it means another 15 minutes to turn around further on. However to get it, I would have to cut across two lanes in busy traffic. What should I do?

Answer: Miss it and stay alive. While you are going back around, you can remind yourself to get in the lane in advance, so it is not time wasted.






Remember folks, be careful out there. If you can’t ride it safely, park it and walk! As usual, drive safe, be safe, watch out for those cagers, politicians, and as always, avoid those nasty Illinois potholes….

Ron Walldren & Missy, Chapter Educator

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