I won't lie here, neither will I call myself the safest rider ever, but I have had my share of falls. If I remember well, almost all the accidents I have had, happened in the city. Probably, the carelessness that comes free with riding around in the neighborhood, lead to calculations, reflexes gone wrong which in turn resulted in a few near death experiences. But in every case, thankfully, there was a helmet on my head that saved it.
Every time you hear of someone meeting with an accident, you assure yourself that it won't happen to you. You have a luck that is far superior than the lesser mortals of the world and you are always in control of your machine. It is same indifference that eventually makes it happen and, at times, there is a lot at stake. What I am going to recommend you guys is not meant to sound like a few words of wisdom coming out of a guy's mouth who is considered a legend in the world of 'Road Safety'.
I do not expect you or myself for that matter to wear knee guards, riding boots, a riding jacket every time I leave home, but these things, if followed regularly, will make you a more aware and a more responsible rider. Because you will agree to me on this that an alert you does not guarantee a safe you. It has a lot to do with people who find walking in the middle of the road to be highly therapeutic, cows who are respected only in posters and temples, people who drive without knowing that giving a signal while turning doesn't increase their electricity bill etc. etc. etc.
- Always wear a helmet. No no. This is not an order coming from me or from high above. In fact, this is a serious request that I make to everyone I see making this mistake. Your head is more prone to get hurt than anything, and if it gets hurt, any part of your body can get hurt. If you find wearing a full face helmet too much to do before you head out to buy milk or some such stuff, buy an open face, but do wear something. Wear a helmet that is at least ISI approved and make sure you strap it. If the strap isn't fastened, the helmet is as safe as a paper bag on your head. You never know when gravity might decide to go against you. Do not just wear helmets to avoid the fine from the traffic constables, wear it because one casual approach can ruin not only your life, but also of some of the people around you. Know how to choose the right helment for yourself.
- Wear snug fitting shoes every time you swing your leg across your two-wheeler. By snug fitting shoes, I do not mean riding boots, but anything that grips your feet comfortably. It is a normal human tendency to try to find balance by putting your feet on the ground and there is nothing wrong in that. Not according to me. But if you wearing a pair of slippers, it might not be able to make enough grip on the road and may not result in the desired way. Except grip, it can also protect your ankle from getting twisted or protect some of the bones. You can never plan a fall. I never could. Before I could realize anything, I was either flying or was on the road. The only occasion, when three of my fingers on my left foot snapped, happened because I was wearing 'more comfortable' chappals on my way to a friend's place who lived hardly 200 meters away.
- Another advice is to ride slow. No matter how good your bike is or how empty the road is, it is not advisable by any means. The roads in our country like to surprise, and every time the surprise is not pleasant. The narrowing view, less time to react, less effective braking are some of the things that happen at high speeds. Before you decide to go fast, always gauge the repercussions carefully and how equipped is your two-wheeler to acknowledge a sudden encounter. Secondly, knowing how to apply brakes effectivly can also be of a great help. Do you own a bike with disk brakes? Know the pros and cons of disk brakes.
- Avoid riding towards the moving traffic. In simple words, avoid coming 'wrong side'. Personally, I have never felt that I saved any time coming wrong side of the traffic. In your head you constantly fear a traffic cop jumping out of nowhere and you ending up paying more than you wanted to save. And there is always the threat of a car coming fast enough that might not be able to stop on a dime.
- Socialising is done best in flesh and blood. Mobile phones like to be played with at a standstill. If you cannot resist the phone calls or are at a position that needs you to stay connected all throughout the day, use your phone's handsfree kit. No one is going to reward you or shoot you if you don't reply to his/her messages on WhatsApp after 10 minutes.
Last, but not the least, stay alert. There is nothing safer than an alert rider. If you have all your senses working in perfect sync, you can not only save yourself, but also a few others around you. But again, do not leave everything on luck. Be prepared for the worst and hope for the worst. Well, this is how I work and it has worked decently so far. Well, not in every case. And when things have gone bad, there was always a good common sense and a helmet to put me back on my motorcycle as soon as we both were fit.
Planning a brike trip? It's important for you to know the essential things to do before you setout on a bike trip