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Safety is Important for Missoula Motorcyclists

Photo courtesy of Base Camp Baker/Flickr

Summer is almost here, and for many Montanans, warmer temperatures and drier roads mean that bike season has arrived — and I’m not just talking about Schwinns and Huffys.

Each day, I notice more and more motorcyclists cruising the streets of Missoula. It wouldn’t be a big deal if they always obeyed the rules of the road and were courteous to other drivers. Unfortunately, that has not been the case — at least in my experience.

In the past few days, I’ve been cut off several times by motorcyclists who attempt to beat the traffic by weaving from one lane to the other. More often than not, the person behind the handlebars was not wearing a helmet — but that’s another blog post entirely.

It’s not that I have anything against motorcycles. I mean, I’m not brave enough to trust my life to a vehicle with virtually no safety features — but if I were a little more daring, I think it would be a pretty sweet way to get around. And with gas prices hovering around $3.70 per gallon, I can’t blame motorists for choosing two-wheeled transportation over more traditional four-wheeled options.

But if you’re going to rely on your Harley to get from place to place this summer, it’s important to remember that safety arguably is even more important when you’re on two wheels. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

1. Make eye contact – Never assume that other drivers see you, because many times, they don’t.

2. Be aware of what is going on behind you – Never cut into another lane without adequate space, and don’t make sudden, unexpected movements.

3. Be on the lookout for changing road conditions – Surface hazards like wet pavement, gravel patches and potholes are much more dangerous to motorcyclists than they are to other motorists.

4. Wear a helmet – In the event of an accident, you are far less likely to suffer a major head injury if you wear a helmet.

Brooke is a 2010 graduate of The University of Montana, where she ran track and cross country for the Grizzlies. She is currently working as a writer and editor in Missoula.

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