Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs placed the need for a person’s safety on a high level. Certainly the need for man’s safety and physical well-being are essential for his existence. Yet, today, newspaper headlines and television news programs splash numerous accounts of people dying or being injured in motorcycle collisions on Alberta roads and across our vast and beautiful country.
In 2010, based on actual motorcycle registrations in Alberta, the involvement rate of motorcycle fatal collisions and injury collisions actually decreased from 2009. This appears in contrast to the steadily rising motorcycle registrations. In 2006, the sales of new motorcycles topped 1.1 million in the US, while in Canada the sale of new motorcycles declined in 2010 as compared to 2009.
There is hope that new unit sales will stabilize and/or increase in 2011.
As of March 2011, Alberta Transportation reported that there were 94,694 registered motorcycles in the province of Alberta; again – an upward trend in this province, one that equates to approximately three per cent of the total number of registered vehicles (offroad vehicles and farm vehicles are not included in overall vehicle registrations).
These statistics suggest that Albertans are utilizing motorcycles more than ever even though the new unit sales have decreased. Thus begs the questions - why is there a rise in the number of registered motorcycles even though sales are down?
Why are so many Albertans choosing to ride motorcycles as compared to five years ago when the trend for motorcycle sales were higher? Confused?
The whole motorcycling industry is still trying to figure this one out...........
This upward trend in motorcycle registrations equates to more bikes on the road. This fact, coupled with the population rise within Alberta also means an increase in all types of vehicles on our roadways and highways.
With this fact comes an increase in the potential risk of a serious injury or fatal collision involving people utilizing those same roadways and highways. Hence, we need to inform and educate all road users on the necessity for safety – especially motorcycle riders – we are considered to be a vulnerable road user.
We must become more aware of those risks in order to stay alive and enjoy that feeling of freedom. Training, knowledge and the acquisition of practical skills prior to getting out on the road is a definite asset for anyone that rides two wheels.
So, why do Albertans ride motorcycles more today than ever before?
There are many reasons why people ride a motorcycle. Riding is something that is not a necessity for people; rather those of us who ride feel an unmistakable urge to be on the open road. There are many reasons for this and they range widely from pleasure to practicality. No matter the reason – there is an overwhelming feeling of a sense of freedom on two wheels, and riding doesn’t take you to a destination; those of us with the 'bug' for riding two wheels believe it is a destination.
Whatever the reason or the feeling, riding on two wheels has more of an inherent risk than riding in a four wheeler. That risk is very real and potentially much higher; you have only your personal protective equipment and your riding skills to keep you safe whereas most people believe that four wheel drivers depend upon the 'cage' around them for protection, in the event of a collision.
To minimize the risks associated with motorcycle riding, please remember these simple, but effective safety tips and enjoy the great outdoors from the saddle of your favourite two-wheeler this summer:
a) Take the time to ensure your bike is ready for the road – do a good pre-ride inspection before you take it on the road, especially after a long winter of storage;
b) Practice your skills in a safe area (open, empty parking lot) before you venture out into traffic for the first time this season.
c) Take a refresher course or a more advanced course to increase your skill level as the season progresses;
d) Ensure your personal protective gear is in good shape, especially your helmet;
e) Ensure you are ready for the road; no stress, good frame of mind, and no drinking alcohol or using drugs before you ride – this goes for any time you ride;
f) Maybe the best recommendation is to choose to be safe this riding season - you and only you can make that decision. Expect the unexpected, choose to have that space cushion around you; ensure other traffic can see you so that you live to enjoy the ride another day. In summary, please be safe in all your endeavours this season and enjoy this excellent recreational sport of motorcycle riding. Enjoy the sense of “freedom”, the fresh air, and the camaraderie that is so much a part of this great recreational sport. Safety is a choice; let’s make the right choice for all road users!
Alberta Safety Council