Riding your motorcycle this summer? Slow down, say police

Motorcycle enthusiasm is on the rise in London, leading to a large increase in complaints of racing and stunts to London Police.

Retailers say they've noticed an upward trend in motorcycle sales this summer

Motorcycling through Ontario is an alternative to travelling abroad during a pandemic, but riders are warned against speeding. (CBC)

Motorcycle enthusiasm is on the rise in London, leading to a large increase in complaints of racing and stunts to London Police. 

Though there hasn't been a rise in motorcycle-related collisions, police want both new and experienced motorcyclists to consider the risks associated with speeding every time they take to the road. 

"Specifically with motorcycles and the speed that they can attain, it can be very difficult sometimes for other motorists on the roadway to determine how quickly they are coming and how much time they have to react or pull out in front of the motorcycle," said Constable Blair Jackson.

"So I would just want people to be aware of the fact that you may not understand how fast that motorcycle is coming, and for the people on the motorcycle to understand that other drivers may not be aware how fast they're closing that distance on them." 

Riders seek a new form of adventure

Retailers have noticed an upward trend in motorcycle sales this summer, with some citing travel restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I think it's given people an opportunity to start learning how to ride a motorcycle because there's maybe been, you know, not many other activities available. Now they're finding out that it is a lot of fun and the areas that they can go," said Gord Inglis, owner of Inglis Cycle Centre. 

Pamma Hubbert, marketing director at Rocky's Harley-Davidson, also said the shop has seen a large number of newcomers to the sport. 

"They are starting out on smaller bikes, and by that I mean under 1200 CC," Hubbert said. "It's actually incredibly exhilarating to be able to see more people getting out there on the road on two wheels and just experiencing that freedom."

Pamma Hubbert, marketing director for Rocky's Harley-Davdison, said newcomers to powersports have shown interest in LiveWire Harley-Davidson motorcycles. (Provided by Pamma Hubbert)

Hubbert said that being new to the road does not necessarily mean riders are unfamiliar with bike safety. 

The licensing process provides rigorous training on safe driving practices, from reading the rider's manual, writing the M1 test, to taking a rider's training course before passing the M2 exit test. 

"The chances of you passing without having had proper training is going to be very slim, because if you are unable to manoeuvre the vehicle, not only is there insurance companies that aren't going to insure you as a inexperienced rider, so therefore you're not going to be able to ride your bike on the road, but you could find that you get hurt really badly," she said. 

"On a motorcycle you're more vulnerable"

In London, new riders often take their training course through Fanshawe College. 

Mike Harrison taught the program for 15 years before working as a program consultant. He said on average, the program trains around 750 individuals each year from April to November. 

"On a motorcycle you're more vulnerable," said Harrison. "You don't have airbags and you don't have crash bars. So speeding is dangerous." 

Harrison said many motorcycle accidents are single vehicle accidents, not involving a crash with another vehicle. Those crashes often take place on curves. 

Motorcycle Training Course at Fanshawe College

2 years ago
Duration 6:59
Motorcycle trainer Mike Harrison said it's a good idea for drivers to take a refresher course, even after years of holding a license.

"If you're riding on curves, slow down," he said. "Make sure you're going at least below what you think your maximum ability is until you become a better rider. And then you can go a little faster because you still shouldn't be speeding, but you should still be making sure that you have that little bit of cushion that if the curb gets a little sharper, you can lean a little bit more." 

Other safety tips from Harrison include looking 12 seconds down the road, being vigilant of surroundings, and monitoring traffic from both sides when stopped at an intersection.

It's also a good idea for riders who have held their license for years to consider taking a refresher training course, he said.