Warm-weather warning: Be courteous to motorcyclists

LANCASTER — Mike and Becky Poling gassed up their 2005 Harley-Davidson at a Lancaster Speedway and vented about some “close calls” they had just hours before.

The two, on a leisure ride from Laurelville, agreed there could be a lot fewer motorcycle-related crashes if motorists became more aware they share the road with two-wheeled vehicles.

“Just today we had two cars pull right out in front of us,” Mike Poling said.

With the arrival of spring, more motorcyclists take to the roads to make the best of the warm days and mild nights. With more motorcycles on the roadways, highway officials and motorcycle sources urge all motorists take special precaution.

“You see, bikes are so much fun to ride that you kind of forget to be careful,” said Paul Ackers, owner of Ask Power Sports, 2535 Columbus-Lancaster Road. Ackers has ridden motorcycles for about 50 years.

He said the biggest tip he can offer bikers is to check over their vehicles before heading out for a drive. Not doing this leads to more problems than any other factor, he added.

On that inspection checklist should be tire pressure, mirrors, headlight and horn, among other things.

“If you do a good three- to five-minute check-over before you go riding, you’re going to be a lot safer,” Ackers said.

He also suggested wearing bright clothing and a helmet and riding with the headlight on to make the bike more visible to other motorists.

Ohio motorcycle fatalities have dropped from 213 in 2008 to 155 in 2009, said Sgt. Darrin Blosser of the Lancaster Post of the Ohio Highway Patrol.

Blosser said highway officials attribute that decrease to a program through the Ohio Traffic Safety Office called Ride SMART, which stands for sober, motorcycle-endorsed, alert, right gear and trained.

Some of the most important tips to remember when riding a motorcycle, Blosser said, are to remain alert, be properly trained, wear the proper gear and drive within your skill level.

Road safety also is dependent upon other motorists — not just motorcyclists, he said.

“Give motorcycles a full lane of travel and (do) not try to crowd them out,” he said, adding drivers should be especially cautious when changing lanes on multiple-lane roads and where motorcyclists attempt to make left turns.

Blosser said Fairfield County saw two motorcycle fatalities in both 2008 and 2009. it saw only one in 2007.

Those numbers surprised the Polings.

“I find that amazing,” Mike Poling said. “As many motorcycles as there are, I would think there would be more than that. somebody must be doing something right over here.”

Morgan Day can be reached at (740) 681-4340 or mday@nncogannett.com.

Warm-weather warning: Be courteous to motorcyclists