May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month

Press releases proclaiming May as Motorcycle Awareness Month and/or Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month have begun their annual circulation. As the thoughtful-yet-provocative moto-equivalent of the New Yorker, we here at CityBike are eager to fulfill our civic duty by adding our trusted, authoritative voice to the chorus, and hereby proclaim: “May is Motorcycle Safety Month! Ride fast take chances!”

If you take our “safety advice” seriously, you have no one to blame but yourself. So, don’t—or at least don’t blame us. Rider: Fish / Photo: Max Klein.

The AMA, who claim credit for launching this May moto-month thing “in the early 1980s,” issued a Motorcycle Awareness Month press release this morning:

The American Motorcyclist Association is issuing a special appeal to motorists to be especially aware of motorcycles during May, which is Motorcycle Awareness Month and marks the seasonal return of motorcyclists to the roadways in much of the country.

Drivers are asked to check their mirrors and blind spots before changing lanes, maintain a safe distance when following motorcycles and pay particular attention when making left turns.

May is Motorcycle Awareness Month - Image: American Motorcyclist Association.
Because this jerk will start paying attention to his surroundings if we just ask! Photo: AMA.

I dunno about this “seasonal return to the roadways” business—we ride year-round here, and our pals at Aerostich ride electric motorcycles in the snow!

But yes, I recognize that many riders choose—for some reason—to live in suboptimal motorcycling regions, and that not everyone is as tough as Andy Goldfine and his Zero Below Zero crew.

More importantly, if not for this press release I wouldn’t have realized that if we simply ask nicely, drivers will start checking their mirrors and stop left-turning riders into early graves. I’ll be issuing a special bulletin to the Wrecking Crew as soon as I finish writing this:

Dearest Wrecking Crew,

It turns out that middle fingers and strategically “ejected” spark plugs are no longer the best way to deal with shitty drivers. If some conspicuously self-important CAV-stickered turd nearly kills you because he’s Face Timing with his mistress while trying to get his Tesla’s touchscreen to show him the Tuesday Top Ten-tacle porn, simply motion him to join you on the shoulder for a friendly conversation—a special appeal, if you will.

I employed this very tactic in West Oakland over the weekend, and am happy to report it went over swimmingly.

Editor Surj

Just kidding, of course. It’s hard not to poke at the language of this press release a bit, but I’ve said it again and again here in CityBike and also over on the lane splitting website: if you care about motorcycling, you should join the AMA (and probably other MROs as well). If you abstain in hopes of a more perfect Motorcycle Rights Organization to unite with, you’ll be waiting until well beyond the day Harley-Davidson caves and releases an updated XR1200.

The CHP beat the AMA to the punch, delivering their “Motorcycle Safety is a Shared Responsibility” press release yesterday:

May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month and the California Highway Patrol (CHP) along with the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) will work together to help reduce the number of fatal and injury collisions involving motorcyclists by encouraging roadway safety through education and awareness.

“Vehicle drivers and motorcyclists share equal responsibility for roadway safety,” said CHP Commissioner Warren Stanley. “It is important for drivers to understand the safety challenges faced by motorcyclists. Look twice for motorcyclists and leave plenty of space between your vehicle and the rider.”

Recent data from the California Department of Motor Vehicles shows there are more than 900,000 registered motorcycles in the state and more than 1.4 million licensed riders. According to preliminary data from the CHP’s Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System, last year 466 motorcyclists were killed in traffic collisions, and more than 14,000 motorcyclists were injured. In 2016, there were 560 motorcyclists killed and more than 14,400 injured.


Yeah, CityBike is conceptually on board with the concepts presented in this press release, and believe that as riders, we must take responsibility for our own safety, even if we’re not exactly doing a bang-up job—oops, bad metaphor—of that today. But even a healthy dose of “I own my destiny” mindset and high-vis gear often doesn’t prevent the all-too-common SMIDSY crash.

From the CHP press release:

The majority of multi-vehicle motorcycle collisions are caused when other drivers simply did not see the motorcyclist. Staying alert, sharing the road, and looking twice for riders will help reduce the number of injuries and deaths on our roadways.

“As the weather begins to warm, we’ll start to see more motorcyclists out on our roads, and we want to make sure other motorists see them too,” said OTS Director Rhonda Craft. “It can be easy to overlook a motorcycle due to their smaller size. For this reason, it’s all the more vital we put forth extra effort in keeping watch. We encourage all motorists to remember to share the road.”

Motorcyclists can also help protect themselves by always wearing the proper safety gear, including a U.S. Department of Transportation-compliant helmet, obeying the speed limit, riding defensively, and always riding sober.

I heard in the April CMSP Advisory Committee meeting that the changeable messaging signs on California roads will display the perennial “look twice for motorcyclists” messaging for a few days in May, and a CHP Community Outreach rep told me this morning that they’ll be promoting safety messages via traditional (radio and TV) and social media throughout the month.

The MSF, always a hardline, pro-rider voice, issued a press release urging motorists to “use turn signals consistently during Motorcycle Awareness Month.”

Yes, seriously.

We don’t have any “OMG, CityBike sez it’s moto-safety month!” infographics to share, but here are some photos that clearly illustrate our commitment to motorcycle safety every damn month of the year. And by the way, for a comprehensive, Ivy League-level dissertation on the roots and reasons of Ride Fast Take Chances, check out page 20 of our June 2015 issue.