Ten golden rules for riders of two-wheelers
Riding a motorcycle or a moped is very different from driving a car. The rider of a two-wheeler must account for many things to which the drivers of cars do not need to give a second thought.
- At the start of the riding season, practise riding your motorcycle or moped like you were starting from the beginning. Practise handling your bike, including braking and steering. The Finnish Road Safety Council and motorcycle clubs organise ‘refresher courses’ at the beginning of the season. Also check the condition of your motorcycle carefully, especially its brakes and tyres, and make sure no fluids are leaking from it.
- Remember proper riding gear. A motorcyclist’s riding gear includes a type-approved helmet, goggles if necessary, a riding suit (jacket and trousers or a one-piece suit), gloves and boots. They will protect you in case of an accident and keep you warm. Colourful gear will also help other drivers see you. Do not drive off without your driving gear even in warm weather. A responsible driver also makes sure that their passengers wear safe riding gear. Remember that if you get a knock on your helmet, it may cause damage which cannot be seen on the surface, and your helmet no longer is safe to wear. You should only buy a second-hand helmet with reservations. Read more about wearing a motorcycle helmet.
- Remember that you are much less well protected than drivers of cars. You do not have the same safety frame and expanses of metal protecting you. This is why motorcyclists should be able to set their speed correctly and anticipate the impacts of the environment, including the weather and other road users, on their riding. Careful overtaking, sufficient safety distances, active observation and appropriate driving gear increase the rider’s safety and give added protection to riders of two-wheelers.
- Weaving in and out of traffic lanes on your bike may cause hazardous situations for other road users and often annoy drivers. Especially during the rush hour, bikers may be tempted to ride between the lanes. In the interest of your own and other road users’ safety, you should allow other vehicles full use of the space in their lanes.
- When riding motorcycles and mopeds in a group, you should be very careful. Leave a generous safety distance between yourself and others, and use your mirrors to keep an eye on the other riders. Try and avoid following exactly the same path as the person in front of you. Even if there is room for two motorcycles riding side by side in the lane, this may cause hazardous situations. Agree on the rules together before you drive off – including how to overtake, what you do when traffic lights change, and where to take breaks. The least experienced riders should be placed in the front part of the group
- When riding a motorcycle, you make be struck by speed blindness. Remember that when you are driving a hundred kilometres per hour, you will travel 28 metres a second. As your stopping distance is affected by different factors, including rider alertness and vehicle condition, you should not skimp on safety distances. The faster your speed, the longer a safety distance is needed.
- Motorcycles are difficult for other road users to see. Mopeds and motorcycles are more difficult to see in traffic than larger vehicles. Due to the rapid acceleration of a motorcycle, from a driver’s perspective it may appear out of nowhere. Mopeds and motorcycles can easily fit in the blind spots of car mirrors, which means that drivers do not necessarily see you. You can help other drivers to see you by always having your passing beam on, wearing colourful riding gear, and avoiding the blind spots of other vehicles. See the Finnish Road Safety Council’s videos on the visibility of motorcycles in traffic.
- Keep an eye on the road surface. Motorcyclists should keep a much closer eye on the road surface than drivers. Especially in the spring, there may be frost damage, unexpected potholes and worn areas of pavement on the road. Summertime hazards include loose sand, dust and oil slicks, and in the autumn, wet fallen leaves are a risk. In early spring and autumn, the road may also be icy in the morning.
- Careful around corners. Behind a sharp bend or a hill, you may encounter a slow-moving tractor or an unprotected cyclist. As braking or changing your speed are difficult when travelling round a corner or downhill, you must remember to anticipate these situations and slow down to a speed at which you can manage any situation. Adjust your speed to your line of sight. If you cannot see very far, ease off the gas.
- Practise for exceptional situations. Regularly practising the correct braking technique and countersteering is a good idea. Use both brakes to slow down, but be careful not to lock them, especially on the front wheel. On the other hand, if your motorcycle has ABS brakes, you should make the most of them. Endless repetition is the only way to learn to use your brakes right. Test your motorcycle’s braking distances at different speeds and on different surfaces using the test devised by the Finnish Road Safety Council.
See the Finnish Road Safety Council’s articles and videos for motorcyclists and moped owners.