I fired up the Internet search engine and went looking for motorcycle rules of the road. Wow, there seems to be about a zillion “Rules of the Road” and they are always life and death critical. There are rules of the road for staying alive on your motorcycle, about projecting a certain image, riding 2-up (with a passenger), riding in groups, riding in the rain, the heat, rush hour, and about every other situation you might ever encounter in twenty lifetimes. Moreover, there are humorous versions that are a lot more fun to read but still are anchored in motorcycle reality. I don’t know about you but for me at least, a zillion is a little over the top for my feeble brain. I’m all for safety, courtesy, and general motorcycle rider behavior but in this case, too much really is too much.
Faced with all of this, I decided to list out my personal top ten riding rules, the top ten rules which I never, ever break. Just getting the list down to ten was a chore but here they are, in no particular order.
Frank Gates Motorcycle Riding Rules
- Wear Helmet, Air-Vest, gloves & boots
- No alcohol, no drugs while riding, never
- Always use my turn signals
- Always look over my shoulder before changing direction
- Bright beams ON during daylight
- Always maintain a buffer zone
- Stay out of cars blind spots
- No front brake below 5 mph
- Always keep it in gear when stopped at a light
- Never be first away from the stoplight
I know I missed some of your favorites but if I put in everything, my list would be the top twenty, thirty, or fifty rules.
For example: I do check my tire pressure but not every time I get ion the bike. I really can feel a drop of two or three pounds when I am riding (you can too) which will cause me to dig out the tire pressure gauge (which I do keep in my tool bag). Otherwise, I will periodically check tire pressure before I ride. At the same time, I check all the bolts, oil and so on. I do this about once a week when I am riding every day.
Keeping focused, being alert at intersections, keeping my speed within my sight distance are fundamental skills and to me, don’t fit on my list, they fit in my brain, and they are always ON as an aspect of simply driving the machine.
Just because something is not on the list doesn’t mean I don’t pay attention to it but if it is on the list, I always do it.
Do I really, really, always obey my list of rules? You Betcha! How? Well, you just make a commitment and then just do it.
The definition of commitment: When you sit down to eat a breakfast of ham and eggs, the chicken has made a contribution, but the pig has made a commitment.
For me, I just put the decision process behind me. When I change lanes, I hit the turn signal. I don’t revisit the decision to use turn signals each time I change lanes. I have already made that decision and I just always use the turn signals.
In a car, I do not make a new decision every time on wearing a seatbelt, I just do it. After a while, it really does become pretty much automatic.
They say it takes 21 days to break a habit or to instill a new habit and I agree with that statement.
For example, wearing a helmet whenever I get on the motorcycle is just like wearing swimming trunks in a public pool. You don’t even think about going in the pool naked and likewise, I don’t even think about getting on my motorcycle without wearing a helmet.
Now, this is my list, you should make your own list. It will be the same as mine or not. But if you take the time to think through it, weighing each rule on how important it is to you, you will be ahead of the game. Just making the list will get you thinking of your riding rules and that is a good thing.