Summer Vacation Etiquette – Part 5: Motorcycle Manners

pixabay.com

pixabay.com

Easy Rider

My only experience with a motorcycle was as a passenger on my date’s ride when I was in my mid-20s; he was a few years older than I and a rather conservative banker, and I thought it was such a groovy idea.  Alas, for me it was the kind of experience that was akin to a ride on Space Mountain, meaning that once is quite enough, thank you very kindly.

The image that many have of motorcyclists, also referred to as bikers, riders and cyclists, is that of rebels and even road terrorists.  But, I can assure you that my banker was neither; he just liked to ride his motorcycle.  And, I have cousins who ride motorcycles and they are a highly educated, highly accomplished bunch.

But, there are those who can give motorcyclists a bad name.  Once while on a road trip, friends of my mother were accosted by a large group of motorcyclists who apparently thought it would be great fun to terrorize them.  This occurred in an era before cell phones, so the couple could only hope that a state trooper would happen by.  Finally, they were able to exit the highway and report the incident to the local police.

And, people of my generation remember the unsavory goings on at the 1969 Altamont Speedway Free Festival in which members of the motorcycle club known as Hell’s Angels were involved.  That same year, the signature counterculture movie, Easy Rider, further shaped the image of motorcyclists, and not necessarily in a positive way.

Thus, it’s not unusual that many motorists become uncomfortable when they find themselves sharing the highway with riders.  If you’re a rider, you can help to reverse motorist discomfort by observing the rules of the road of the state in which you’re riding, as well as by following the rules of rider etiquette to other riders as well as motorists.

Here are some etiquette tips to help your rides to be enjoyable as well as safe:

  • Obey the rules of the road, including observing the speed limit / keeping up with traffic and changing lanes / passing carefully and legally.
  • Show respect and friendliness to motorists, just as you would do to a fellow motorcyclist.  Raise your hand or touch your helmet with your index finger in salute if a motorist lets you in line in front of her or shows other courtesies.  Make eye contact to ensure that motorists see you if you’re passing.
  • Refrain from aggressive behavior, such as tailgating, speeding, passing unsafely or shouting insults and accusations.  If you have to catch up to your group, do so safely; usually a group of motorcyclists have a travel plan that includes the best way to stay together or regroup in case of a separation.
  • Avoid showing anger toward motorists; anger or road rage never accomplishes anything positive.  Your goals are to enjoy your ride and arrive at your destination safely.
  • Don’t show off by performing wheelies and other dangerous stunts.
  • Toot your horn only to announce your presence to a motorist (assume you are in their blind spots or otherwise invisible to them under certain circumstances),  bicyclist or pedestrian, or to warn of possible danger, not to show off or intimidate.

Motorists also have a responsibility to look out for motorcyclists and respect their right to share the roadway.  Here are some etiquette tips to help your drives to be enjoyable and safe:

  • Obey the rules of the road, including observing the speed limit / keeping up with traffic and changing lanes / passing carefully and legally.
  • Show respect and friendliness to motorcyclists, just as you would do to a fellow motorist.  Raise your hand and smile if a motorcyclist lets you in line in front of her or shows other courtesies.
  • Refrain from aggressive riding, such as tailgating, speeding, passing unsafely or shouting insults and accusations.
  • Avoid showing anger toward motorcyclists; anger or road rage never accomplishes anything positive.  Your goals are to enjoy your drive and arrive at your destination safely.
  • Don’t lean on your horn; use it only to warn others of possible danger.

For some motorcyclists and motorists, sharing the road with each other can often be a bit nerve-wracking.  However, if each realizes that most people are interested in traveling safely and agreeably, riders and motorists can get past their differences, practice good road etiquette and join forces to make it an easy ride – and great summer – for all.

Please join me next week for another summer vacation installment.  And, please remember that your comments and questions are welcome!

Until next time,

Jeanne

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