Blog: The mind of the motorcyclist

Blog: The mind of the motorcyclist

A simple day trip on a glorious summer day sounds like fun. However, for motorcyclists, even the shortest trip is very seldom carefree.

For the cyclist, life-size (and life-threatening) potholes seem to appear from nowhere. Some train track crossings become incredibly uneven over time and can be even more hazardous than traveling a gravel road. Construction areas (a summertime staple in Illinois) do not often take motorcycle safety into consideration and are fraught with hazards. Riders are constantly on guard against man-made challenges as well as nature’s elements.

But even common road hazards and weather conditions pale in comparison to the most immediate safety threat to the motorcyclist – other drivers. Motorcyclists on America’s highways and byways are sometimes easy for other motorists to overlook.

Some of the best advice I’ve ever received about being safe on a motorcycle was to constantly assume that I am “invisible” to all cars and trucks on the road. In this regard, working at Advocate Health Care where there is an ingrained culture of safety has made me a safer (and perhaps sometimes neurotic) motorcyclist.

What can auto drivers do to make the road safer for those on two wheels? Simple: common courtesy (like making complete stops at intersections, making proper lane changes, signaling, etc.) goes a long way. You’ve probably heard the safety message “Start SEEING Motorcycles.” So please do. We are counting on you.

Scott Ford, is the Vice President of Development at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center and Advocate Eureka Hospital and an avid motorcyclist.

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  1. I agree that other motorists are a significant problem, especially those that behave that the rules don’t apply to them, are distracted, or shaving seconds off the travel time. Some see us and still don’t care. This is what I deal with on a daily basis commuting on the motorbike in the Chicago area.

    Another issue is with the cyclist not being formally trained. As an instructor, I can spot these in a moment simply by how they ride. In an intermediate class for those who have been riding, I’ve found many experienced riders don’t know how to steer, brake, swerve, and have weak perception skills and strategies. The state of Illinois has a program where riders of all skill levels or none at all, can be properly trained at no cost to the rider, bikes and helmets provided except for the advanced class.

    Safety on the road is shared by all on the road. Unfortunately, most seem to look for those who can cause them harm far more than those they may harm.

  2. I agree that car drivers should give motorcycles more room, come to complete stops, avoid cutting off motorcyclists or any other vehicle for that matter. However, let’s also agree there are also things motorcyclists can do. I live in an area where groups of them will flock for a weekend long ride and I know for a fact alcohol is part of their stops along the way. I’ve also seen the younger ones exceeding 80 mph on the highways, zipping in and out of traffic and in some cases doing wheelies. It’s hard to “start seeing motorcycles” when they are literally showing up in your blind spot out of nowhere.

  3. As a motorcyclists I agree that car drivers need to start seeing us and some cyclists shouldn’t be doing 80 mph and doing wheelies in front of the cars. I took the MFS class to get my license and while I am a very careful rider and pay close attention to the road, I can not believe the students the instructors passed in my class. Some of the students ran their bikes up of the legs of other students, they couldn’t control their bikes, and they couldn’t even stop them. But in the end everyone of the students in that class passed. Even the student that dropped his bike during the final driving exam. So I am very skeptical of these classes after attending this class.

    I love riding my bike and have been riding f0r 18 years and have never had any issues. But I just can’t help remember all those students getting their cards to go down and get a license when they couldn’t even stop the bike.

    Sorry to say here in Illinois a biker is nothing more than a target for most people. Here’s to a safe riding season.

  4. Linda Paddock June 7, 2017 at 1:16 pm · Reply

    Drivers of cars need to remember a motorcycle is going faster than what they perceive. Also, motorcycles are not bicycles where a driver can pull up along side on the road (yes this has happened to me).
    I agree with Larry that the motorcycle safety class is a must for riders. And riders do not forget-all the gear, all the time.

  5. Laurie Kolb Phalen June 7, 2017 at 1:17 pm · Reply

    Great topic! Just my two cents…. It seems that living in Illinois there are two seasons, winter and road construction! Road construction can be extremely challenging for the motorcyclist. A well prepared motorcyclist will plan their route well in advance, knowing alternate routes if they need to adjust “the ride.” Any driver can visit the website for the statewide work zone map. I agree that car drivers should take more time to “see motorcycles” by actually looking both ways when they stop and then look again before turning or moving. I think we can also all agree that a formally trained motorcyclist is a much safer driver than one that had no formal instruction. I have been an avid motorcyclist for 25 years and feel that my instruction in the rider safety course and the advanced rider course was invaluable! Ride safe. Drive safe.

About the Author

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Scott Ford

Scott Ford, is the Vice President of Development at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center and Advocate Eureka Hospital and an avid motorcyclist.