Here are a few tips to keep you safe while you ride!
Autumn is a great time of year if you like to get out on the open road with a motorcycle. The temperatures are more moderate, the scenery is beautiful and, with resorts and hotels going into their shoulder season, a longer road trip is more affordable.
There are a few things to keep in mind before you set out to feel the wind in your hair, so that you also stay safe.
Be Car Aware
A car outweighs a person on a motorcycle and the damage that will occur in an accident is always worse for the biker, so don’t ever assume that a driver sees you.
The bright light of early morning, or the setting sun, can make their ability to see you even worse. And remember, the days get shorter in the fall, so your being visible is even more important.
If you’ve been on your bike all season, no doubt you are already well aware of this, but it always bears repeating.
Be Ready For Any Kind Of Weather
While rain is certainly possible in early autumn (late September, early October) in parts of Ontario, you might even see a little frost and snow in northern areas of the province.
If you’ve never ridden in the rain, it might be a good idea to practice in an empty parking lot or in an industrial area on a rainy day before setting out for a longer ride. Breaking, turning and even starting can all feel a bit different with the traction you’ll get on wet pavement.
- Have wet weather gear at the ready, including a helmet shield or goggles, and a rain suit. The goggles / shield are essential to be able to see even if it’s raining.
- You should be ready for cold too, if you’re riding early in the day or later in the season. In the cold, your muscles stiffen, which can slow your reaction time and make handling the motorcycle more difficult and more dangerous.
- If the day is warm and sunny, that doesn’t mean you should drop all of your protective gear. Unlike in a car, there is nothing much between you and the road, so even a small accident or spill can cause serious injury if you’re not properly equipped with pads, jacket and pants.
- Double check the tread on your tires: if they’re getting old, now might be a good time to think about replacing them. You need more traction than ever in the autumn months, with variable weather conditions, so make sure you’ve got it.
- If you are riding in the rain, slow it down and leave more space around you to account for cars that also take longer to stop in the rain.
- Taking a corner too fast is a bad idea when the roads are dry, never mind when they’re slippery and wet. Hydroplaning is possible, though less likely than with a car. These days, motorcycle tires are made in such a way as to cut through the water effectively. Just don’t make sudden moves like leaning your bike a lot in a turn and you should be fine.
- Be prepared to pull over: whether at a rest stop or under an overpass, heavy rain and cross winds that can blow you sideways can definitely make riding more dangerous, and certainly a lot less fun.
- Early mornings in the autumn can also mean frost or even black ice on some roads, so be mindful of that. And unless you have a lot of experience, avoid unpaved roads that could have mud, ice patches and other hazards. If your route takes you on one unexpectedly, follow the right tire track, furthest away from oncoming traffic.
Autumn Leaves Are Gorgeous AND A Hazard
One of the best things about riding in the autumn is the scenery: beautiful leaves changing colour and falling, creating a stunning vista. Those same leaves, however, can also be a hazard, particularly if they’re wet or accumulating at the side of the road. Just be aware of them.
If You Have An Accident While Riding A Motorcycle…
The steps you need to take after an accident aren’t really different from those taken after an accident in a car, but they’re worth repeating:
- Call first responders. Short of a very mild bump, there’s a good chance that there will be some sort of injury, even if it is a latent concussion.
- If you were in a collision with another vehicle, make sure you get all of their information: name, address, driver’s license, insurance company and policy number. Don’t forget to get contact information from witnesses too. If you can, or if someone can do it for you, get pictures of the scene and the damage to your bike, and the other vehicle. It’s much easier to describe what happened if you have visuals.
- Let the first responders check you over, on site or at the hospital. Some injuries aren’t apparent right away, thanks to the adrenaline and shock running through you. You’ll have a stronger case longer term if you have records from the get-go.
- Get in touch with your insurance company right away. Even on the weekend, they have claims services to help you get started with any accident benefits you might be entitled to.
- See your doctor within a few days of your accident max. Preferably the same or next day. You could have an injury that hasn’t manifested yet, so you will want to make sure that your condition is being documented.
- Call a personal injury lawyer. The sooner they’re on the case, the sooner they can make sure that your file is properly documented, should you need help dealing with the insurance company. Remember, the insurance company’s goal is always to pay out as little as possible: having someone on your side who has been down that road before is helpful. Even if the lawyer is not yet sure you have case, they will often be willing to shadow you for a bit to see how things develop, and having this guidance, should your situation develop into a strong case, is invaluable.
When all is said, there’s nothing like a ride through back country roads, in the beautiful scenery that autumn has to offer. Follow my tips to make sure you enjoy every minute of it and go home to your family safely.