Riding a motorcycle is a good way to treat your lockdown blues, whether to do your essential traveling or, where states allow, just to get out of the house and enjoy the fresh air.
States are in various stages of stay-at-home lockdowns and re-openings, with some regions seeing some leveling off in COVID-19 cases while others are spiking. Regardless of where you may live, chances are you’re getting a bit antsy to get out and about, but want to do so safely both for your own protection as well as the protection of others and in accordance with local restrictions.
Indeed, certain outdoor activities are not only permitted as relatively safe but are also highly recommended for your mental and physical health. So if you’re a motorcyclist, here are four reasons why riding your motorcycle is not only good for your well-being but offers a road safely traveled during the coronavirus.
* Just as it is your decision whether to ride a motorcycle takes into consideration certain risks, it is also your decision whether riding during the coronavirus outbreak is a safe activity for you. Risks can be minimized, but rarely completely eliminated. Having all the information in hand is how you can best assess those risks and make decisions regarding your personal safety. And, needless to say, if you are feeling sick or having symptoms, leave the bike in the garage and stay the hell home.
1. Motorcycles are the Ultimate in Social Distancing
Even in states where outdoor activities are allowed, safe social distancing practices are mandated. What could be more social distancing than one person on a bike? Even if you’ve got a second rider, assuming that this is someone you already shelter in place with, there shouldn’t be an issue.
Of course, it might be an issue if you were picking up someone you hadn’t been sheltering with. However, if you both are wearing protective gear—helmets with face shields and gloves—and you and your rider keep them on both getting on and off the bike, arguably that minimizes the risk of not social distancing. Still, it is potentially riskier than riding alone.
As is riding in groups. Again, arguably as long as bikes and riders maintain their distance, you should be all right. But the whole point of riding in a group is the social aspect of congregating when you get off the bike, whether it is stopping for refreshments or just to enjoy the view by the roadside. During the coronavirus pandemic, alas that is something for the most part you want to avoid. It could be done, as long as you and your fellow riders maintain your distance and wear a face mask. But that kind of takes the fun out of why ride together in the first place.
For the same reason, it’s best to avoid rallies and other kinds of club meetups. As Bryon Wilson points out writing for Motorcyclist, “It would be wise to avoid these type of gatherings, if they haven’t already been canceled. The CDC states that the best way to avoid the coronavirus is to avoid being exposed to the virus in the first place. So that means foregoing the club dinner or meeting after a ride and steering clear of popular hangouts that attract a lot of people.”
The ultimate in social distancing is solo riding and the best option for your personal health and those of others during the COVID-19 pandemic.
2. The Roads are Less Trafficked
With more people working from home and kids staying in from school and other group activities, there’s less traffic on the road. Particularly during summer when traffic tends to increase, fewer cars on the road lowers one of the biggest hazards to motorcyclists—distracted, careless, and/or inexperienced drivers. According to the Hurt Report, widely acknowledged as the preeminent study on motorcycle accidents and safe riding, 75% of motorcycle accidents involved a passenger vehicle, with the failure by drivers to recognize motorcycles in traffic cited as the major cause of accidents.
That there will be less distracted drivers on the road is the good news. The bad news is that less traffic congestion seems to have emboldened a larger percentage of drivers who are on the roads to engage in dangerous behaviors. According to Kea Wilson reporting in StreetsBlogUSA, “The number of car crashes is indeed plummeting due to lower traffic volumes on American roads, but the rate of car crashes is actually up in many cities — as are the injury and fatality rates for both drivers and vulnerable users. Evidence is beginning to emerge that absent traffic jams during the coronavirus crisis, many drivers are getting more reckless.“
Balancing the good with the bad has always been part of the motorcyclist’s credo—after all, there is more risk of riding a motorcycle than an automobile. This is why bike riders are more focused and attentive to their surroundings, to minimize that risk. This brings us to the next reason why it might be a good idea to ride during COVID-19.
3. Riding Helps You Stay Focused
One of the big mental health issues we’re facing during the coronavirus crisis is the disruption of normal work and life routines that can lead to boredom and a constant feeling of being ill-at-ease. In certain circumstances, this can lead to depression. Consequently, most health advisories emphasize the importance of engaging in activities that focus your attention on a fulfilling and entertaining pursuit.
That’s the definition of riding a motorcycle. Safe riding required focused attention to both your surroundings and everything you are doing in operating your machine. This is a major factor in why riding a bike is much more enjoyable than driving a car! What better way to shake the cobwebs out of your head than getting on a bike and focusing on the road ahead. Jon Newell in Ridewell recounts the thoughts of a fellow motorcycle rider that, “Having the total unification of mind, body and situational awareness riding commands of you can have a meditative and somewhat spiritual effect.”
4. Observe the Rules of the Road During COVID-19
Just as motorcycle riders must be more conscious of both their surroundings and their machines in order to ride safely, they can also only ride safely during COVID-19 by following a few simple sanitation practices. As recommended by Motoress®, here’s what you can do to protect yourself against the virus and have a safe motorcycle outing:
- Sanitize your protective gear as well as all “high-touch” surfaces and levers on the motorcycle itself. Soap and water is the best cleanser.
- Keep your gloves on or use disposable gloves when pumping gas. Even before coronavirus, gas pump handles were considered highly contaminated with potentially infectious microbes.
- Use a credit card or, better yet, contactless payment app on your smartphone. The exchange of paper money has always been a source of germs transmission.
These are difficult times for all of us. Getting out and riding your motorcycle responsibly while following a few common-sense precautions can help make it less so.
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