|Spotted Wolf Canyon, Utah|
One of the most enticing phenomena about motorcycling is the unobstructed view of the countryside. For someone who relishes seeing the “big picture,” the best seat is in the saddle. My eyes sweep over snow-topped or green mountain vistas, colorful rock formations, and the open road. Besides appreciating the view, knowing that I’m heading into that distant mural excites me and makes me appreciate its vastness.
The mirrors offer a different perspective. I notice myself and Big Red emerging from the scenery of a rich, dense forest, like we are bursting forth from the trees. Or, the long road stretches out behind us. I was just there is my usual thought.
Right below my feet, the landscape rolls by. I see the texture of the earth as well as individual plants. It’s fascinating to observe the differences in the terrain as we move along.
Then, there’s the open sky with its myriad shades of blue and gray, its dappling clouds. I remember my first time riding in Montana. No wonder they call it Big Sky Country.
Motorcyclists get to take it all in. We wonder at, and are touched by, the beauty and our unobstructed view.
The Virtue of Visibility
“Oh, sorry. I didn’t see you,” the automobile driver who nearly clips a motorcyclist yells out her window. In multi-vehicle accidents and fatalities involving motorcycles, not seeing the bike is the most frequent comment that comes up in police reports.
Knowing the difficulty this can present, motorcyclists do everything we can to make ourselves visible. We use reflectors and reflective tape on our bikes and helmets. I switched from a black jacket and red helmet to silver. (Though the sun hitting that red helmet looked like a police car light and folks pulled over for me a time or two.)
Some paint our bikes vivid colors to increase visibility.
|Beth on "Sunshine"|
My friend Gil installed brake lights and headlights that flash because the movement of the light catches attention. Neon yellow and green rain gear is sensible attire for those dark-sky days.
There is an entire industry of goods that make a rider more visible.
Companies such as
Conspicuity, Inc. and Adventure Rider’s Hi Viz Store offer eye-catching vests,
helmets, and other clothing. Wearing bright-colored gear, as opposed to the
all-black regalia of many “cool” bikers, makes a motorcyclist more noticeable
in traffic and from a distance. If drivers can see us, they are more likely to
keep at a safe distance, which makes for a better chance for our survival.
|Internet photo Conspicuity, Inc.|
In a 2003 New Zealand study using nearly 1,700 motorcyclists (463 cases involved hospitalization or death) , researchers found that motorcyclists wearing any reflective or fluorescent clothing had a 37% lower risk than other riders. And, wearing a white helmet, as opposed to black, was associated with 24% lower risk.
In the United States, motorcycle safety foundations and some state publications are now including greater information and more tips about the necessity for riders to be conspicuous. When there is increased awareness -- and visibility -- the roads are safer for everyone.
Riding a motorcycle is one time we need to stand out rather than blend in.
~ xoA ~