This week we are going to wrap up our series on night time riding tips. I hope that everyone has enjoyed reading them, but more importantly, I hope that you have taken to heart this information and that it will save at least one of you some grief. As I’ve said before, I love meeting my brother bikers, but would rather do it on the road and not because you need my legal services.
Ride to be Seen
This is a subject that I have talked about before and I am sure will talk about again; the importance of making yourself visible. It is important in the daylight, but once the sun goes down it becomes paramount.
Riding a motorcycle at night, you should, at a minimum, have on a reflective jacket or belt slung across your shoulders and chest. At the same time, your bike should have reflective decals facing all four points of the compass. It would be even better if you are lit up like a Christmas tree so you are not overlooked.
I know many of you feel that you shouldn’t have to do these things and that people riding around in cages should be more observant. I completely agree, but as my mother used to tell me, you can’t change people so you have to deal with them. I will also tell you it is much easier to be indignant about motorist behavior than it is to be in a ditch because they couldn’t see you.
For those unfamiliar with Mr. Murphy, he is that gremlin that always seems to pop up at the worst possible time. His law states, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” That is why I recommend always carrying a basic tool kit with you any time that you ride, and especially when you ride at night.
Some guides I’ve seen suggest a list of tools that many garages would be envious of. To my mind, this just isn’t practical on a motorcycle. What I do suggest is a few basic tools like adjustable pliers and wrenches, spare light bulbs and fuses, a flashlight, a few feet of wire, assorted nuts, bolts and screws, a reflective safety triangle to set up and let people know you’re there and most importantly, a cell phone with a roadside recovery company’s number preinstalled on speed dial.
If you should have a problem, get your bike to the side of the road as quickly as possible and set up your triangle. The universal sign for a biker in distress is a helmet sitting on the side of the road, but unfortunately most people, even many motorcyclists, don’t know this and unless your helmet is highly reflective, it wouldn’t help much in the dark anyway.
If you can make the needed repair, quickly do so and be on your way. However, if you cannot have someone pick you up, just tell them to watch the side of the road for the triangle and then stay well off the road till they arrive.
As we have discussed over the last three weeks, riding a motorcycle at night carries its own unique set of risks that many find intimidating. It doesn’t have to be that way, though. I enjoy the solitude of the road at night, but I follow my own advice and do so in a safe manner.
Slow down, brighten up, stay aware, be prepared, and enjoy the ride.