‘Everybody goes down’. Those are the words that echoed in my head after my accident. A rider had said this to me two weeks prior. We’d gotten into a discussion about how long I’d been riding, and the fact that I’d never been in an accident really surprised him. He insisted I upgrade my jacket and switch out my gloves in preparation for the inevitable.
Always the optimist, I blew the rider off, and scolded him for putting negative energy into the universe. However, I did find myself down on the 101 Freeway in Los Angeles. I couldn’t believe it. After two years of safe riding, I was down.
The most frustrating thing for me was I wasn’t at fault. The driver cut me off twice, acknowledged he’d done it, then proceeded to veer into the next lane without signaling. I swerved to get out of the way and went flying over my handlebars. Next thing I know, I’m watching the negligent jerk weave his way through traffic to get away.
I used to think maybe the riders who went down were taking too much risk while riding. However, the truth is the majority of drivers aren’t concerned enough with anyone else’s lives, but their own when on the road. As a motorcyclist, I recognize I need to be more proactive in remaining safe on the street.
As with most things I wanted to feel like I had a shared experience. So, I spoke to other riders who’d been down. Each one had tips they’d picked up since their accidents. A few I’ve definitely included in my everyday riding habits.
Here are my top 3 tips:
- Wear a white helmet
- Be vocal. Honk excessively
- Always have an exit strategy
I bought my white helmet about two months ago. I noticed a change on the road immediately with the way cars responded to me. Now, they move out of the way and make room for me while splitting lanes. I believe it has a lot to do with drivers associating the white helmet with police officers.
While I was getting my bike fixed, my mechanic suggested that I become more vocal on the road. He told me that even if a driver can’t see him, they’ll definitely hear him because he blasts his horn to warn drivers. It took me a while to get over feeling like I was being obnoxious on the road. Nonetheless, I now honk when I feel the slightest discomfort around a car.
In addition, always have an exit strategy. Try to make sure you’re in a good position to escape when driving. I know I feel safest when I’m not completely boxed in by cars. If at all possible always give yourself an option to get out of harm’s way just in case.
Even though I’ve accepted it was inevitable I went down, I still don’t want it to happen again. Accidents happen, but I feel like they can be avoided if you put YOUR safety first. If that means having a white helmet, buy it. Or laying on the horn, do it.
Become a little paranoid, escape routes are a necessity for remaining safe. Finally, just put on the gear; even if it’s hot outside. You’ll be grateful in the long run IF anything does happen. Because the truth is, every rider will go down at some point. So make sure you’ve done enough to get back up and walk away from it.
Stay safe in these streets!