Tips to ride safer and more courteously

Last time, we provided some tips on how to ride more considerately and defensively. This time we give you the second part to further improve your riding skills.

No one likes to be called a kamote, so let’s all do our part to ride better and uplift the reputation of riders everywhere.


Learn the road markings

We have features here that discuss road markings and road signs, what they mean, and what you should do when you encounter them. These apply to both cars and motorcycles. Neither is exempted. As such, follow them, particularly double yellow lines. Many will argue that bikes can overtake cars more easily in any situation, but these lines were put there by road engineers who took into account not just the curve, but the incline, visibility, and camber of the road itself. If there are yellow lines, overtaking in that particular section has been prohibited for a reason.

Knowing the road markings and signs also helps you figure out what's coming ahead, and grants ample time to change lanes or perform the needed action before the intersection or situation arrives.


Be more careful with a pillion

Unlike cars, taking on a passenger in a bike can drastically alter its performance and handling. As such, be more careful when you have a pillion. We wrote an article on how to ride with one. Have them wrap their arms around your waist and rest their head on your right shoulder. This allows them to see the road ahead and prepare for braking, acceleration, and turning, as well as avoid that dreaded helmet knocking.

As for the controls, be more careful with them. Accelerate gently and brake earlier. They are not aware of what you are about to do, so do it slowly to give them time to react. Take note that a passenger puts more strain on the rear suspension and brakes, so adjust accordingly.


Don't stop under overpasses

Another element riders frequently have to deal with is the rain. During a sudden and unexpected downpour, it can be particularly difficult to ride, but bear with it until you can find a safe spot away from the road to stop. Stopping directly under a pedestrian overpass, MRT station, or any structure over the road that provides shelter from the rain is dangerous, causes traffic, and is just plain inconsiderate to other motorists. You wouldn't like it if a car or a jeepney did that to you.

Instead, bear with the rain until you can find a safe place to stop away from the road. There are a number of emergency bays along main roads to do this, if not gas stations or convenience stores. If you have rain gear, put it on there. Don't worry about the bike as it can take a little rain. And if you don't want to get wet, or find riding in the rain painful, perhaps you should reconsider riding in the first place. This is simply one of the elements we should be willing to deal with when choosing to ride.


Learn the risks before you modify

Modifying your motorcycle is extremely tempting, particularly with the wide availability of parts and shops. Before you make any changes from stock, learn how it will affect your motorcycle first, whether positively or adversely. Ride cautiously for a week after installing the part. Some offer cosmetic advantages but can seriously hamper handling and braking.

Thinner or wider tires may look cool, but these can drastically alter power delivery and how a bike handles. Clip-ons give an aggressive look, but make the bike harder to handle at low speeds. Setting the footpegs and shifters further back can give a sporty feel, but may cause you to slide forward under heavy braking. Bluish white lights may work great at night, but offer poor visibility in the rain. Finally, think twice before fitting a louder exhaust. It may sound cool, and make cars more aware of your presence, but can be bothersome to others, or worse, be confiscated at the next checkpoint.


Avoid distractions or drinking

Riding is an activity that takes far more concentration than driving. For one, there's the constant need to balance. Another is the distribution of its controls to each limb. As such, keep distractions to a minimum when riding, and ensure both hands are free to operate the controls.

Don't text while riding, even if there's no traffic or it's an empty road. Don't drink and ride, not even a little. Balance is important when riding, and even if you're just tipsy, you put your life at risk. Avoid alcohol altogether if you're going by bike, whether as a rider or passenger.

Riding with tunes may help pass the time, but be sure you can still hear what's going on around you. Don't set the volume so loud that you'll be oblivious to an ambulance right behind you.


Always say 'Thank You'

This may not be a requirement, but it's always better to impart goodwill to your fellow road users. When a vehicle lets you pass, take the opportunity to express your thanks whether with the wave of the hand or short beeps. This lets the other driver know you appreciate his generosity and will instantly let him know you're a courteous and considerate rider.


Upgrade your skills

There are many ways to upgrade your riding skills safely that doesn't involve racing on public roads. Many motorcycle brands offer riding clinics and racing courses in tracks or closed spaces to allow riders to better handle panic situations or tricky corners in a safe space. Consult your nearest dealer for more information. The price for these classes may seem daunting at first, but it will be money well spent. Many of these courses will help you gain a better understanding of your motorcycle and riding in general. Those slalom, braking, and leaning exercises may seem elementary, but the muscle memory it builds is valuable, particularly in a panic situation.

Don't race on any street. Even if you have the right gear and you think you're a pro. All it takes is one miscalculation to meet an accident, which can easily lead to severe injury, or worse, death. If you feel the need for speed, head to a race track, or join one of the many properly sanctioned racing events throughout the country.

Riding a motorcycle is certainly much more difficult than a car, and not many car drivers are aware of that, particularly how easily a miscalculation on their part can lead to injury or even death for us. However, we also have to make an effort to understand a driver's limitations, particularly with visibility and awareness of motorcycles. Keeping these tips in mind could help reduce the number of flared tempers on both sides, and result in smoother and safer travel.