As summer traffic increases, a Central Alberta motorcyclist says taking extra precautions to be visible to other drivers are his standard operating procedures.
Jim Lazzari, 70, of Norglenwold, said he will slow down when driving through highway intersections where another driver wants to make a left-hand turn.
“I might even point my finger at them or hold my hand up (to indicate) I’m coming through to make sure he sees me. I have a horn on my bike that’s fairly loud. If I have to use it, I use it,” said Lazzari who drives a Honda Valkyrie.
“When I ride, I make sure I’m visible.”
When someone is following too close behind, Lazzari said he will wave them back and most of the time they will back off.
Central Alberta has already seen a few collisions involving motorcycles this season.
On June 8, a motorcyclist was seriously injured near Lacombe when a pickup driver crossed the path of the motorcycle.
On May 5, a motorcycle driver and passenger were killed in a collision with a truck east of Innisfail.
On April 26, near Maskwacis, a motorcycle driver and passenger died after colliding with a truck. The truck’s passenger, who tried to help the motorcyclists, died when a third vehicle drove into the crash site.
Lazzari said motorcyclists tend to anticipate potential problems, whether it’s slippery road conditions or dangerous actions by other vehicle drivers.
“We don’t think car drivers are stupid or silly. They are the same as we are. We’ve got mostly good ones, some bad ones.”
He said others have told him that watching out for others while driving a motorcycle have made them better drivers no matter what they’re driving.
After riding a motorcycle for 20 years, Lazzari said his only close calls have come from trucks with loose material in the cargo bed. Once while driving in California he had to dodge Styrofoam cooler lids from a pickup truck.
Now he doesn’t follow pickup trucks.
“You don’t know what’s in the back that can come flying out.”
Another time on Hwy 2A, between Red Deer and Blackfalds, boxes fell onto the road that were not properly secured on a flatbed truck.
Both times he avoided crashing by making sure there was enough space between him and vehicle he was following.
“Even at an intersection in town behind a vehicle, I leave quite a gap between the vehicle ahead of me to have space to move forward or to the side.”
He also recommends motorcyclists take classes, like the ones offered by Alberta Motorcycle Training in Springbrook.
“They say if you ride long enough you’re going to lay it down sometime. Over the 20 odd years I haven’t yet,” Lazzari said.
Scotty Watters, Alberta Motorcycle Training owner, said riders must pay attention.
“Think, drive and put your head on a swivel if you’re on a bike because you are the vulnerable one. You have to think for everyone else,” Watters said.
Motorcyclists must also make sure other drivers can see them, he said.
“One of the things most motorcyclists do is buy black stuff. That’s not being seen. The brighter the clothing the better.”
He said sometimes it’s worth it to ride with high beams on.
“Make sure all your lights are working. Add extra lighting.”