The start of motorcycle season always is the most dangerous as riders are out for the first time since last season, and drivers are used to having the roadways to themselves.
But Lynn Anderson, co-director of Region 3 ABATE of Indiana, is even more concerned about the start of riding season this year. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Anderson said many people’s minds are elsewhere, and, despite fewer drivers on the roads, she’s noticed more drivers speeding and disregarding the rules of the road.
“Right now with everyone staying home, the people that are getting out, they seem to, from my experience, think the rules of the road don’t apply because there’s not as much traffic out as normal,” Anderson said. “I’ve watched I don’t know how many people run through stop signs speeding because they think the police just aren’t going to pull them over … or I don’t know what they think.”
As motorcycle riders start getting out as temperatures heat up, she said they need to be extra vigilant, practice defensive driving, and wear bright, reflective clothing.
For drivers, she reminded them that they will start seeing more and more motorcycles on the roads and to slow down, look twice, and come to complete stops. At stop signs and intersections, especially in the country when the fields are up, she said to pay extra attention as high fields make it difficult to see motorcyclists.
Drivers shouldn’t rely solely on rearview mirrors, either. She said drivers always should look over their shoulders before changing lanes.
“We need to be seen. Everyone’s mind is in a different mindset than normal, so the last thing they’re thinking about is the fact that there are motorcycles on the road right now. They’re either in a hurry to get where they’re going, driving too fast, not paying attention at stop signs. Their mind is just not where it needs to be at the moment,” she said.
And that applies to motorcycle riders, too. If a rider isn’t in the right mindset, she said they should not get on their bike.
“It’s a common phrase for us, ‘Wind therapy is the best therapy, and you never see a motorcycle parked outside of a psychologist’s office.’ With so much happening in the world around us right now, you would be abnormal if your mind didn’t wander a little, but when you’re out there, be alert. Pay attention,” Anderson said.
Each year, ABATE has an annual Safety & Awareness Ride at the start of riding season in May, which is recognized as National Motorcycle Safety and Awareness Month nationally, that aims to saturate the roadways to remind drivers that motorcyclists are out. This year’s ride is set for Saturday, May 9, provided state restrictions are not extended further.
The ride covers all six counties in ABATE Region 3 for a 106-mile ride that makes stops at each of the county’s courthouses where a county or city official makes a proclamation. Though bikers are encouraged to visit all six counties, they can join the ride at any time from the departure locations, which are at the courthouse in each county.
This year’s departure schedule is as follows: Tipton County, 10:30 a.m.; Howard County, 11:30 a.m.; Miami County, 12:30 p.m.; lunch; Wabash County, 2 p.m.; Huntington County, 3 p.m.; and Grant County, 4 p.m. Bikers are encouraged to show up half an hour early, as the times listed are when kickstands go up.
“We just want people to know that we’re here in force, and we just want people to know we’re out there,” Anderson said.
ABATE continues to evaluate the COVID-19 pandemic and updates its events and classes weekly. Anderson encouraged people to visit abateonline.org for updated class schedules and events and any postponements or cancelations.