On Balance  

Ride. Make a difference

It seems that more than just my wife and I have been reading these columns. Amazing. For those of you who have joined us for one or another of the rides, I want to say thanks for taking the time, and for the company.

Going a little different route today, following the thought pattern of rider safety being best found in the best reasons to ride in the first place.

The things I enjoy I’ve learned to do with reasonable safety, so that I can enjoy them again. That fits very well with the main reason most people use the motorcycle most of the time: recreation. Havin’ a laugh.

This safety approach has the side benefit of preventing me from having to do some of the things I really hate, like sliding along on pavement on bare skin. Or losing fingers to the table saw. Same deal. Best to avoid, I say.

I also mentioned last time that most people seem to ride as a form of social recreation, and that this aspect has its downsides.

We’re better at getting each other into trouble than out of it. Get caught siphoning the teacher’s gas, you’re on your own, Buckeye. We weren’t here.

Beware of peer pressure on group rides, and about riding in general. But that really isn’t anything like the whole story about the social nature of motorcycling, so here’s another angle on that dangle.

Cue music: Riders On The Storm, The Doors.

There’s a motorcycling “Ride To Work Day," and campaign. You can look it up: http://www.ridetowork.org. The premise is that we should be helping each other by joining forces and becoming a more visible (numerous) presence in traffic at times when most people are on the road, instead of when they aren’t.

There are flaws in the website’s presentation materials. However, there is the central point, which is that road safety for motorcyclists works in some important ways like it does for cyclists and pedestrians.

We fare better when there are relatively more of us in the social mainstream of day-to-day traffic.

When there are more riders on the road, at peak times, other vehicle operators are more attuned to our presence. Perhaps more importantly, the pressure of numbers makes the managers of roadway infrastructure more attuned to the need to ensure that roads are engineered and maintained for rider safety.

Instead of hiding out and waiting until all the cars and trucks go home before we roll Blacky out of the barn, Ride to Work (and I) propose that we should all get to work and back in the saddle.

Arrive with a grin on your face, having made a difference for fellow riders’ safety, and see if it doesn’t improve the work day too.

Monday, June 21. International motorcycling Ride to Work Day. Have a laugh, go to that meeting in your leathers.

And. The fun committee’s work doesn’t stop there. Lots of us have figured out how to get some social mileage by making good things happen for people who need help.

Fundraising rides are a whole thing out there. People will actually give you money if you tell them you’re crazy enough to risk your life riding a motorcycle in aid of worthy causes.

Most years, riders get pledges, get together with a bunch of other riders, go for a hoot together, and then grab a burger and a prize at the afterburner. COVID’s pretty much screwed that up for us, but the fun’s still on.

If you were the one who read the previous column, you’ll remember the notion presented was to ride your own ride, instead of in a pack, then get together with your buddies at the pie stop.

Turns out, fundraisers have settled on a plan that’s pretty similar. So, whether you’re going with the Ride For Dad, or the Ride To Live, or both (for prostate cancer supports and research), you can do that on your own between May and September, having registered with them first and organized some pledges.

“Ride Alone Together” is the Ride For Dad tag line, which works so well on so many levels, I wish I’d thought of it first.

Should mention that one of the national medical advisers for the Prostate Cancer Fight Foundation, the charitable arm of the Ride For Dad, is Dr. Juanita M. Crook, of UBC Kelowna. Studies a form of treatment you really don’t want to know about, until you need to know about it. And I really hope you miss that bus.

Unlike one of the very best friends I’ve ever had, who’s on a ride from hell with it right now. So far, some of that leading edge research is helping, so thanks for the fundraising.

Raise some money, go for a ride, make a difference — here’s a very short list of some options to consider:

So you can still have a laugh, be social, and raise safety, awareness, and funds, riding alone. Together.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.


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About the Author

Bill Downey is a retired professional social worker in support programs for people with congenital or acquired physical and cognitive challenges, who was also a volunteer firefighter and a BCGEU health and safety advocate.

For many years, he has been a motorcycle riding coach/instructor with Kelowna Safety Council who spends too much time studying international traffic safety research and not enough time doing all the outdoor things a boy from the Okanagan should be doing.

He has lived a very large portion of his life on two wheels as a commuting and travelling cyclist, but, for the extra challenge, he is also as a motorcycle commuter.

By nature, he has a balanced approach to all things.

[email protected]https://kdsc.bc.ca

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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