Dos and don’ts for bikers – An Indian perspective
By Sumonto Chatterjee
Motorbikes and motorised two-wheelers are a rage with youngsters these days. Speeding on bikes and performing stunts are part of their heroics that render the roads unsafe, often at the cost of lives. But in many places in India, as well as many other countries, motorbikes are of great utility. In many far flung places, where public transportation is practically non-existent and the pot-holed roads are congested, motorbikes and scooters are the best and often the only option for transport. Besides, motor bikes come far cheaper than the cheapest car.
“Safety first” – these two words may be clichéd but should be uppermost in the mind of a biker. One should keep in mind, what one should do and what one should avoid when riding a bike.
Here are a few basics …
1. Buy a bike, which you can handle and you are comfortable riding. When not in motion, you should be able to sit on the bike with both feet flat on the ground and not on the tips of your toes. Go for a 100 cc or 110 cc bike if you are not at home riding a bike greater than 150cc. It would be safer for you or others on the road.
2. Never wear tight fitting clothes that would hamper your physical movement. Wear comfortable and protective clothes. At night, bright coloured clothes are better than darker ones, as they afford better visibility to others. Jackets provide extra protection in winter. Wearing shoes is a must. Protect your feet with safe shoes. Riding with sandals or slippers on may invite serious trouble.
3. Crash helmet is an indispensible component of your safety gear. Never go out without a helmet on. The pillion should also wear a helmet. Not wearing helmets result in a large number of fatalities. A helmet is meant to protect your head and not to escape the police. Also make sure to demist your helmet in winter. The water vapour in the breath condenses on the cold visor impairing visibility. If there is no demister around, apply a thin layer of tooth-paste or moisturizer on the visor and wipe with a piece of clean cloth. This will work as an excellent demister.
4. Make sure your bike is in good condition. Service your bike regularly. Before you go out, make a pre-ride check of your bike. Check the tyres, controls, brakes, oils and fluids, battery. Set the rear view mirrors to your convenience and check your blind spot. Never dispense with the rear view mirrors.
5. A good rider (or a driver) must have good anticipation. Anticipation, in this context, is the ability to foresee a danger and take instant decision on how best to avoid it. The rider has often to do a mental calculation whether he/she can overtake a vehicle in the face of traffic from the opposite side. These split second decisions and calculations prove to be important and potential life savers. Never try to overtake a vehicle that is overtaking another vehicle. Make sure you keep the right distance from the vehicle ahead. This gives you time and space, in case the vehicle in front has to apply a sudden brake.
6. Never take more than one pillion rider. Often we come across bikes with four people on it. A family of four, with a child on the fuel tank, is a common sight on Indian roads. This is a recipe for disaster.
7. These days use of mobile phones is a big reason of accidents. Lots of riders talk on the cell phones while riding, some with the phone wedged between the ear and the helmet, some with the head cocked to hold the phone between the head and the ear, others using ear phones. These practices not only divide the attention of the rider but also impair hearing and make the ride uncomfortable. If it is a necessary call, pull up on the side and then use the phone. You are not so busy that you can risk your and others lives.
8. Never calculate travel time. Various factors are involved that take your time when you travel. Road conditions, traffic, weather may affect your travel time. If you have to reach your destination within a certain time, start early. Never go beyond speed limit to reach quickly.
9. Stop speeding. It is safe for you and for others too. Don’t go over pot-holes at a high speed, rather by-pass them. Riding within the economy limit saves on fuel and keeps the engine in good condition.
10. Be aware of road surface. Road surface is another factor to be careful about. Keep an eye on the road. Avoid pot-holes. The grip of tyres is greatly reduced if there is oil, water, mud or wet leaves on the road. Rains reduce visibility. Avoid riding in the rains.
11. Never ride (or drive) if you’ve had a few drinks. Never go out on your bike if you plan to party. Lots of accidents involve drunk riders (or drivers). Riding (or driving) and drinking do not go hand in hand.
Some words for a long road trip
12. Check the weather report before you go out on a long road trip. Avoid rainy or stormy weather. Anticipate problems you might face. These might include location of petrol pumps, food joints, service centres. Take your safety gear with you. Get your bike thoroughly serviced before you go out on your journey. On long drives, don’t pull the clutch lever every time you step on the brake.
13. Use technology to guide you & those that extend emergency help when need. Using Safety apps (Android & iOS) that provide the user with solutions based on monitoring safety and send emergency signals with critical information with continuous geo-location, will give you extra advantage.
14. Never be careless when you are riding. Always be alert. Your family and friends are waiting for you.
Image courtesy: BikeDekho.com