Things Yo Mama Should Have Told You About Riding!
By Miller Langhorne
As a Florida rider, it's likely you got your endorsement by taking one of those government approved courses that explained all the official rules of the road, gave you some parking lot practice time on an undersized dealer bike, and stamped your passport to the world of riding. Yea, a few of you dropped the bike or ran over the instructor and had to retake the course, but most people are able to demonstrate they understand the basics of operating a motorcycle on their first attempt. That's a good start, but there's so much more to know about being a good motorcyclist.
The written regulations are an important foundation but there are other rules of biker etiquette that you should also be familiar with. These rules aren't written down in a book but instead they are traditions that have evolved through the years to become part of the motorcycle lifestyle.
I don't think there's another group of enthusiasts who engage their brothers and sisters as enthusiastically as bikers when we pass on the road. It's our way of acknowledging we're both part of the same community. Waving is not mandatory and some riders refuse to participate. You won't be shunned if you don't return the gesture, but you could at least give the other rider a nod of your helmet.
Look but don't touch.
Don't touch and never ever sit on another person's motorcycle unless you've been given an invitation to do so by the bikes' owner. This isn't just show bikes, this applies to any bike. Exceptions can be made for showroom bikes at certain dealerships. But even then, you should ask first. You can admire another rider's bike as much as you'd like but touching or sitting on a bike that you don't own is strictly forbidden. You're riskin' a beatin'.
Just because bikes don't need big parking spaces doesn't mean you should squeeze your bike into a small spot making it difficult for the guy next to you to get his bike out.
If you can't park and easily get on and off your bike on either side, go look for another parking spot. And if you're using a parking space designed for cars, don't hog the whole space for yourself. Didn't your mother teach you to share?
They don't see you.
Even though the driver at the intersection ahead appears to be looking directly at you, they aren't. Their head may be pointed in your direction but that doesn't mean their mind is focused on traffic. Your head should always be on a swivel when you're riding looking for all of the inattentive drivers.
And, just because you have the right of way, doesn't mean you should take it.
Ever see a rider passing the other way tapping on the top of his helmet? Slow down, there's cops ahead. Probably not covered in the hand signal segment of your training course.
Motorcycles will attract attention and opinion.
It will seem like everyone you meet has a motorcycle story to share with you. People you don't know will want to talk to you about riding or your bike. Family, friends, co-workers and more will tell you how dangerous riding is and advise you to stop doing it. Smile politely at them, put on your helmet and glasses, and enjoy the ride.