Safety First, All the Time!
It's not just for when you're riding!
By: R. Bruce Thomas
It was a Wednesday and I was sitting in the Emergency Room wearing shorts when a fellow in a wheelchair got rolled up beside me. His left leg was extended straight out in a full cast and was supported by a brace on the chair. After a few minutes I said "That doesn't look like fun."
"No, it's not", he replied. "Last Saturday I finished polishing my <brand of big cruiser redacted to avoid any possibility of bias> on the driveway and was pushing it back into the garage when the front wheel hit something on the floor and the bike fell over and broke my leg. I'm going to be in a cast for at least eight weeks and won't be able to work. A buddy took the bike back to the dealer yesterday since I won't be able to afford the payments any longer."
"Ouch. That's too bad." I responded.
"What about you?" he asked, as he sized up the condition of my legs.
I had a pair of crutches and my right shin was swollen to about double normal size. My left knee was wrapped to protect the dozen stitches holding together the mess created by a windshield wiper when I bounced off the hood of a Toyota.
"Sunday afternoon I was out for a ride when a guy ran a red and t-boned me and I ended up 200 feet down the road. They stitched my knee, kept me overnight, told me they couldn't find anything else wrong, and sent me home on Monday. I'm back because I'm experiencing all kinds of concussion symptoms."
Within half an hour a doctor would tell me they hadn't even checked my head on Sunday despite the fact all my gear, including my damaged helmet, was on a chair beside the bed in Emergency (I would later find out there were a lot of things they hadn't checked). I would be sent for a CAT scan.
There was silence for a while as Mr. Tip-Over1 probably contemplated letting the other person tell their tale first the next time, and then he said he was sorry to hear of my collision.
Motorcycle Safety is in the name of the Alberta Motorcycle Safety Society and safety is the first word in the tagline - "Safety, Education, and Awareness for Alberta Motorcycle Riders". While the tagline is usually directed to the riding aspect of motorcycling there is also a requirement to practice safety when not riding as the above story alludes to.
So, keep the floor in your workspace clear to avoid any unwanted incidents of loss of control of your vehicle. I didn't ask how he was able to extricate himself from under the huge bike but you may also want to keep a phone in your pocket. In a sturdy case. Or arrange for a friend to regularly check on you when polishing your chrome.
Other non-riding safety tips include always cleaning your visor before starting out on a ride. Inspect it for chips that may impair your vision. Replace it if it gets damaged. And carry a cloth and some water (or be able to produce enough saliva) to clean the bugs off during a ride. If you can’t see clearly you aren’t safe when riding. Choose footwear with good soles in case you put your foot down on loose gravel or spilled fluids. Stability when you’re stopped is very important. Inspect your bike before a ride to ensure there are no leaks or loose bits that could catch in moving parts. Clean your lights so they provide you with good vision if riding at night and check that they all work and are visible before you ride so you can make your intentions clear to other road users and they can see you. Get appropriate gear so you can ride like The Three Bears - neither too hot, too wet, nor too cold. You want to be just right as being uncomfortable when riding takes your concentration away from the main task at hand and is not safe.
I’ll finish by going back to large, heavy bikes and garage safety. A buddy of mine created the very handy "center stand assist tool"2 as seen in the accompanying pictures, and it is indeed a gem, especially if you are vertically challenged or have back or shoulder issues. This little beauty could be just the tool you need to help get your bike up on the center stand. It’s cheap to build because you probably have all the components needed in that pile of junk wood in the corner and the box of hardware on the shelf that you’ve been hanging on to for occasions just like this.
Two small pieces of 3/8” plywood (one about 12” long and the other about 8” long) held together with four short screws or some good glue. Put the long single-thickness end behind your back tire. Roll the bike backwards until the back tire is up on the thick end and the bike will be ¾” higher and almost jump up onto the center stand by itself. Make it the right size and it will fit in a pannier or your top box for use on road trips.
1 - names have been changed to protect the uncoordinated, otherwise this story happened exactly as told.
2 - AMSS and the author make no representation that this tool is suitable for use with any particular motorcycle and take no responsibility for any mishaps that may occur while using this tool. Undertake the building and use of this tool at your own risk. Keep a friend on speed dial.