There is something about putting on your gear, hopping on the motorbike and hearing that engine roar.

It’s the time of year especially when seasonal riders are starting to get back on the road and drivers need to be on high alert.

“Car drivers are not used to seeing those bikes. When they do look at a stop sign or stoplight, they are probably looking for another car. They are not looking for a motorcycle so they need to take that second look, is there a motorcycle, is there a cyclist there just be aware of what could be there,” said Bill Laughlin, executive director for the Vancouver Island Safety Council.

Laughlin says being more aware is the first step in sharing the road safely but riders also have a responsibility in keeping their skills sharp.

“When you haven’t done something for six months or several years, you’re going to lose some of that skill. You need the initiative to make sure you are able to react automatically to not think about it when you are riding,” said Laughlin.

He also said it is important to wear the proper safety gear.

“It is frustrating from an instructors point of view we see people riding in shorts and a t-shirt and a little beanie helmet if you are involved in an accident that’s not going to protect you in any way,” said Laughlin.

Last week in Nanaimo, two vehicles and one motorcycle were involved in a crash on Highway 19A. The drivers of the vehicles were taken to hospital with minor injuries but the driver of the motorcycle died on the scene.

It was the first motorcycle fatality on Vancouver Island for 2019 and it serves as a sombre reminder that those on two wheels are more likely to pay with their life.

“Yes there is more of a risk out there as a rider but we can reduce those risks by giving us a bigger space cushion by making ourselves more visible to other drivers on the road,” said Laughlin.

The motorcycle fatal in Nanaimo comes after a deadly year in 2018 for BC. Between January and July of last year, there were 30 motorcyclist deaths.

According to the coroner’s report in 2017, there were only 14, that is a 114% increase.

“Ride safely don’t get carried away it is a great activity and with that adrenaline rush things can happen at a higher speed and the consequences can be very serious,” said Laughlin.

Cyclists are also vulnerable road users. In Victoria, they often have access to protected bike lanes but they aren’t everywhere. Corey Burger with the Victoria Cyclist Coalition wants to remind drivers to share the road and give them plenty of space.

“When passing make sure you give plenty of space because the wind from your vehicle and also the vehicle being close is going to be a problem, so ideally, if you can, change lanes but if not, leave at least a metre and metre-and-a-half between your car and the bike,” said Burger.

He says “dooring” is also a problem cyclists encounter. When drivers open the door and hit cyclists going by.

The Vancouver Island Safety Council offers courses for riders of every level.

“One of the most important things is emergency braking; what can your bike do and how can you improve it so your bike can even stop in a controlled situation at a much shorter distance,” said Laughlin.

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Luisa Alvarez