Why we do what we do!
Insight into AMSS
by: R. Bruce Thomas
The tagline on the Alberta Motorcycle Safety Society web site says "Safety, Education, and Awareness for Alberta Motorcycle Riders". As an organizational slogan this seems to be pretty succinct and a fitting goal for the group. But a group is made up of people. I know why I'm involved and I wanted to know what other people behind the group felt and why they were associated with AMSS.
The logical person to begin with is President Liane Langlois since the AMSS would not exist were it not for her drive and passion.
“After watching rider down posts become more and more common, and specifically after 2 major collisions in Edmonton on back to back days, I wanted to do something, try something, to bring awareness. The government hadn't done much and back in 2015, Alberta slated July as motorcycle awareness month where the rest of the country celebrated in May, when most riders return to the roadways. Alberta has since moved motorcycle awareness month to May and has partnered with us over the years with funding assistance for our campaign.
I have had close calls. I used to not wear proper gear when I first got going. Thankfully I have changed my ways before anything serious happened. Now I strive for honest awareness and push for accountability for all road users, whether you have 2, 3, 4 or 18 wheels. We all need to work together, respect the rules of the road and ensure we all get home safely. This is achieved by teamwork between government, first responders, media, industry and community. Together we can truly do better. And if we change just one person's behaviour, save just one life because of that missing crucial gear or rider awareness, I call that a success.“
Marty Forbes is the Vice-President of the AMSS and handles media coordination. He has been riding for over 50 years; about the same amount of time he has worked in radio and print media, which makes him especially qualified for the work he does with AMSS. When Liane asked if Marty could 'help her get motorcycle safety messages out to riders' he realized the 'marriage of my two loves' - Media and Motorcycling - was going to take a big step forward as the Alberta Motorcycle Safety Society was formed.
“I couldn't be prouder of the work we have done over the past 6 or so years - with our messaging being carried, for free, every year since inception on every single radio station in the Province; as well as CTV/Global/CITY TV in both Edmonton and Calgary, and through both ads and my column in the Edmonton Sun.
We have become valuable contributors to the City of Edmonton Vision Zero program, working directly with both the EPS and RCMP; riders and training groups; the Alberta Government and Liane has become the most recognized voice of our sport by being the go to person for media when requested for interviews in regards to any Moto safety concerns in the Province.
We have established an excellent website of information and entered the world of Podcasting with a highly informative Think Bike podcast that references guest experts in every single aspect of riding in Alberta - on and off road.
Our social media work is endless and we build our membership daily for more support.
Every year we get bigger and better and more effective!
So why do we do what we do?
We save lives. We bring motorcycle issues forefront to the streets and highways of our Province.
And we bring respect to an industry that faces difficult challenges in public perception!
I'm damn proud of all we have accomplished!”
Doug McFayden was a rider for over 30 years even though, like so many others, he had a 15 year hiatus before taking up the sport again at age 40.
Doug wanted to make it home to his family and friends after each and every ride. He knew that riding his motorcycle was a high risk activity and that doing so safely was important to him. He joined the AMSS as a board member to help start the much needed conversations around motorcycle safety in hopes that the riding community would listen and those conversations would lead to actions taken. He knows that in just the time he's spent on the AMSS board he's changed his own habits for the better.
Doug knows there is nothing like getting on two wheels with a gasoline tank between your legs, smelling the air, hearing sounds so much clearer and feeling the vibrations from the engine. One of Doug's favorite riding events is the "Motorcycle Ride for Dad". He has personally raised over $20,000 for this worthwhile cause and because of his riding to raise awareness, three of his close friends went for testing and they were subsequently a success story.
Doug sold his motorcycle in September 2021 and does not intend to get another. In deciding that it was time to quit riding, Doug continues to lead and demonstrate that knowing your limits is an important part of motorcycle safety.
Bruce Weese has been involved with AMSS for a number of years and will likely be joining the Board of Directors in the near future.
“Fair to say I did not join AMSS with safety as my priority. What attracted me to AMSS was diversity with a common aim to improve the entire scope of motorcycling. Many groups cater to a narrower slice of the motorcycle community based on the genre of bike, manufacturer, or style of riding. Everyone is welcome at AMSS because AMSS’ goal is to make motorcycling safer and more enjoyable for everyone. Whether you have a motorcycle for transportation or recreation you are part of a community with a bright future of growth in the face of climate change, inflation and societal change.
In all honesty I have to admit I’m a builder at heart. If it came right down to it, and I had to decide between riding for a season or building a new chopper … I would put my helmet on the shelf and unlock the toolbox.
From my builder perspective, I believe building a custom motorcycle is within reach for many people including young and novice riders on a budget. This segment of the motorcycle community is as old as the motorcycle itself. And, it’s growing. OEM replacement parts are readily available for many common, older models. Technology, design, and quality of custom parts is exceptional, supporting safe and reliable customization of all kind of bikes. With just a small space and a reasonable investment anyone is capable of building a cafe racer, flat tracker, bobber or chopper. Sharing my passion with a new builder would be a wonderful way for me to pass along my passion and leave a legacy.
AMSS can serve as a resource for new, novice, and returning riders being a non-biased source of current information about parts and service, personal safety items and motorcycle skills training. This goes for those who choose a new motorcycle, a good used bike, or for those who choose to resurrect a neglected bike. To this end, we need to ensure our information is accurate and has context.
This past summer there was a message delivered from many groups and influencers about full face helmets. The message was that all riders should be wearing a full face helmet because they are safer. I don’t think anyone would argue that a rider’s head is more completely protected in a full face helmet. But, let’s flesh out the details of safety for a more comprehensive understanding. What style of helmet are the riders involved in crashes wearing? Are any of these riders wearing earbuds or have speakers in their helmets? What styles of motorcycles are involved in incidents? Considering my interests, how many custom built bikes are involved in an incident, what style of helmet was the rider wearing and what styles of bikes are involved? When we have more of these answers we will be able to draw valuable conclusions which will provide riders with good guidance. The style of helmet a rider chooses to wear is only one of the many considerations for making motorcycling a safe undertaking. Safety depends more on the rider than any device.
So, why do I do what I do? I want to see our community grow. I want more riders to get a safe and affordable start into motorcycling. I want enthusiasts to enjoy a style of bike and riding that expresses their personality and interests. And selfishly, I want to make a difference.”
Samantha Mitchell stands out in the AMSS because, unlike so many of those above with decades of riding behind them, Samantha only got her Class 6 licence in 2018. She has always believed in All the Gear, All the Time and “when Liane told me about what she was doing and what AMSS stood for and what she wanted from it I knew this is something I wanted to be included in. We need to bring more awareness to ourselves and be more aware with what is happening around us when riding our motorcycles and we need to protect ourselves with the proper gear. “
As for myself, I had over 25 years riding experience when I got rear-ended and then t-boned within a four-year span here in Edmonton. After getting t-boned and having a less than stellar experience right from the time I hit the ground, I seriously considered a career change from IT to Accident Investigation/Reconstruction. Nothing was done at all in regards to my incident. No pictures on-scene. In spite of The Hurt Report stating that understanding the dynamics of the crash was paramount to understanding the injuries, my lawyer said what happened didn't matter. Medical professionals didn't take the extent of my injuries seriously and had no interest in matching the damage to my gear with the damage to my body. Maybe because I wasn't dead, so maybe that's a good thing.
I have a friend who did accident investigations and I talked to him. I looked into training courses but was told they were mostly aimed at former police officers. Eventually, I realized that accident investigation was beyond the point I wanted to be involved. By then it was too late.
I'm more a proactive than reactive person so I wanted to do what I could to prevent the accidents in the first place.
I fought City Hall for two years to get them to cut trees and improve the sight lines at the intersection where I was hit. Improvements were made to traffic lights due to background noise from overhead signage.
It was a start.
Now I try to pass on safety tips for riders and hope my words have a positive impact.
So there you have it. A number of people involved with AMSS with different backgrounds and experiences but all with the basic desire to help ensure that motorcycle related injuries and deaths continue to decline in number. Maybe that slogan couldn't be any better.
Please consider what you may be willing and able to do to help improve the safety of your fellow riders and road users. If you want to join the AMSS team, you can do so by buying an annual membership. Click here for more information.