The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Letters

April 17, 2014

Look out for motorcyclists

— A sad prediction I made recently, one with a specific timeframe, came true. Within the week, on Thursday, April 10, a motorcyclist struck by a car died in Mifflinburg.

These tragedies often happen in spring, when winter-delayed riders take to the roads. Riding skills are rusty; perhaps motorcycles aren’t functioning perfectly. Other motorists are not used to seeing motorcycles on the roads. There is little a rider can do when a motorist crosses the road line into her lane, or when a driver moves his car out into her path. In this recent crash, The Daily Item reported that the motorcyclist apparently swerved to avoid the collision — a difficult maneuver under the best of circumstances.

I have been riding a motorcycle for 30 years and have taken basic and advanced riding courses to learn and refresh my skills. Always, I wear full protective gear, from helmet and armored suit to gloves and boots. I check my tires, brakes and lights. Never do I drink and ride and I avoid riding during dusk (too many roaming deer) and after dark. Think I’m a wimp? Well, I traveled solo on my bike across the United States for three months without an accident, sometimes at speeds that would make your hair stand straight up. Experience and good habits, however, can reduce but never eliminate the risk of riding.

If you are a prospective or current rider, be responsible for your safety. Take a course. Pennsylvania’s Department of Transportation offers free basic and advanced courses in several nearby locations, and there are many other course providers. Routinely practice high-skill maneuvers. Don’t drink and drive.  Make yourself conspicuous by wearing reflective or bright clothing. Keep your bike — especially the tires — well maintained, and consider installing a pulsating headlight. Try wearing a helmet and protective gear.

As a motorist, be responsible and do your part to avoid crashes. Actively engage in driving and put your distractions aside. Don’t text, make calls or even talk on the phone. (Oh, you’re the exception to all of the research, huh?) During the few seconds you are multi-tasking, you could drift into my lane, and I’d have a split second to react. Please, look out for us riders — wives, brothers, daughters, fathers, grandmothers, sons — and do your part for safety.

Carolyn Coldren,

Lewisburg

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