As most of you know, the concept of a “minor motorcycle accident” is an oxymoron. The best protective clothing and gear is little help when a 3000+lb automobile or 4000+lb SUV runs down a motorcyclist. The summer of 2009 in NYC saw three close friends rear-ended by distracted drivers. Since we personally are acquainted with only a very tiny fraction of the motorcyclist community here, this unofficial statistic translates to some very serious and disturbing numbers when scaled to the city’s entire ridership.
The NYMSTF encourages legislation against ALL forms of distracted driving, requiring criminal charges and greater financial penalties, making the laws “primary” laws, and imposing mandatory jail sentences if crippling injuries or fatalities are caused by motorists who were not paying attention to controlling their vehicles safely.
As a service to NY’s motorcyclists and to the relatives and friends of motorcycle and scooter riders killed or gravely injured by alleged distracted, impaired or unlicensed motorists, the NYMSTF maintains a calendar page tracking the cases of those motorists. Click HERE for the case and court calendar.
We promote the legalization of “lane-splitting” or “lane sharing” for motorcycles and scooters, not just in NYC but throughout the United States. This practice is perfectly legal in California. In many parts of Europe and Asia it is not only accepted but encouraged, including the right to “filter” up to the front at traffic lights. Motorcyclists are less vulnerable not just to rear-end accidents but to ALL accidents in stop-and-go city and highway traffic when permitted to travel between lanes at a safe speed.
Lane sharing also increases fuel efficiency, reduces pollution, and minimizes the exposure of motorcyclists to poisonous automobile and truck exhaust fumes, all with little or no impact to other motorists and in many cases, overall time saved for everyone on the roads. The time saved translates to more time spent with family, less time waiting for deliveries to arrive, more productive work days, etc. The potential to save time and gas costs also attracts more people away from automobiles and toward motorcycles or scooters, which benefits everyone.
Another crucial benefit of lane sharing may be less obvious to non-riders: Improved comfort in extreme weather. Allowing motorcyclists to maintain some momentum helps the bikes’ small generators keep the riders’ electric clothing powered in cold weather, and the breeze helps motorcyclists breathe easier from within their helmets and protective clothing when the weather is hot. In both scenarios the ability to keep moving helps prevent “brain fade” – whether from hypothermia or from overheated brains – and helps keep riders’ reflexes, judgement and capabilities sharp.
The Task Force encourages all riders to educate themselves thoroughly, wear high quality, properly fitted (and DOT approved where applicable) protective gear at all times, maintain their equipment responsibly and ride safely, defensively and considerately. Read the NYS DMV Motorcycle Manual, study the Vehicle & Traffic Laws, make sure you understand motorcycle -specific laws in the states you travel through, and consider taking the Motorcycle Safety Foundation courses and participating in “track days” to build your riding skills and confidence. Suggested reading includes books such as “Help! They’re All Out To Get Me!” and “Twist of the Wrist”.