By: Stump, Legislative Affairs Officer, ABATE of CO
Since most people reading this article ride motorcycles, you probably know that May is Motorcycle Awareness Month.This seems to be a National “Awareness”, but what does it really mean?
Since I’ve been riding for 46 years, I heard about this “awareness” many years ago, but I didn’t realize the importance of it until I became the Legislative Affairs Officer (LAO) for ABATE of Colorado (Colorado’s only State Motorcycle Rights Organization). The purpose of this declaration is to “alert” drivers that motorcycles are back on the road. May is chosen because most riders don’t ride during the winter and are starting their riding season in May. The obvious questions are: 1) what good is this declaration; and 2) how do we get the word out to drivers to be “aware” of motorcyclists?
I’m not sure about other states, but in Colorado we have a unique approach. We call it, “May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month” and actually pass a resolution in the Colorado General Assembly to declare it. I know that passing this resolution makes 100 legislators “aware” that motorcycles are more prevalent on our roads, but what else does this resolution do? Hopefully, CDOT will announce this resolution on lighted information signage to inform the public. Another way to get the word out is to send a Letter-to-the-Editor to your local newspaper and/or radio and TV stations. Anyone can do this. Would the media pay more attention if they received 10-15 letters?
Besides alerting the public about motorcycles on the road, Colorado’s resolution mentions safety. To riders, this has 3 different implications: 1) be extra cautions, because “cagers” aren’t used to seeing motorcycles on the road after a winter of seeing few motorcycles on the road; 2) ensure your riding skills are up to par by doing some practice drills or taking a rider ed. Course; 3) prepare your bike and gear for another riding season.
This preparation can vary greatly, depending on the individual. Do you do your own maintenance or do you take it to a shop/dealer? Are your fluid levels sufficient? How about your tires, is the tread and air pressure OK? Is your battery fully charged and all the electrics/lights working properly? The Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) has a great checklist to help you prepare your bike for the riding season. It’s called T-CLOCS and can be accessed at www.msf-usa.org/downloads/T-CLOCS_Inspection_Checklist.pdf.
Lastly, don’t forget to check your riding gear and safety equipment. Are your boots, gloves, jacket and helmet ready to go? Colorado doesn’t have a mandatory helmet law for riders and passengers over 18 years old, so wearing a helmet when riding is an adult choice. Other safety equipment is also a personal choice. I’ve seen bikers riding wearing only a T-shirt, shorts and flip-flops. I’d never ride that way, but I have my own preference for safety equipment.
Spread the word that May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month and hopefully reduce motorcycle crashes and fatalities in Colorado. The life you save might be your own.