The ongoing pandemic has jolted the entire world and sent us all back indoors with the lockdown, which has lasted for three months straight. Now that ‘Unlock 1.0’ has begun, many have started to venture out, mainly for essential activities. Some of us who are used to riding our two-wheelers for leisure, have been longing to return in the saddle.
More than ever, it is essential now, to be able to understand the risks and consider unseen factors that could arise while getting back on the road, post the lockdown. Although it hasn’t been so long that our muscle memory forgets the basic operations of a vehicle, our road sense and behavioural pattern with regards to traffic, could take time to return to normalcy. Unless we address these factors correctly, riding after such a long time could turn out to be fatal.
Before you gear up and step out for your first post-lockdown ride then, let us address a few key pointers that one should keep in mind:
Less Traffic Liberties:
The world is getting back to its usual ways in a gradual manner. We haven’t come out of the lockdown completely, yet. As a result, traffic is still sparse, encouraging those on the road to step on it and drive/ride at higher than usual speeds. Since monitoring is also less, traffic violations have been on the rise. In such a situation, it is best advised that you take all the necessary precautions and be extra-careful while riding. Keep scanning the road for possible rule-breakers who ride/drive on the wrong side, disregard traffic lights, turn without any indication, etc.
Be extra careful at cross-junctions where cars or bigger vehicles might be approaching at a speed which is faster than expected. Also, at many such crossroads, the traffic lights are still not functional, which could catch you, or someone else who hasn’t been attentive, unawares. Look out for vehicles which might emerge out of lanes and small alleys without notice. Cyclists and pedestrians are also plausible threats, considering they too are expecting less traffic and might just swerve or walk into your path, without warning or indication.
Eyes on Everything:
What you see and don’t see, marks the difference between safety and disaster on the road. When riding, keep your eyesight steady to notice and record every movement which could affect your path forward. Focus on the road and keep checking for red flags. For instance, a parked bus or a large vehicle up ahead could be acting as a curtain for a motorist or a jay-walker who could suddenly appear out of the blind spot to intercept your movement. Check your rear-view mirrors regularly for any fast-approaching vehicle which might be planning to overtake you or when you decide to switch lanes. The information you gather from your vision will help you to identify possible threats and prepare for corrective action or an escape route.
Brush Up Those Skills:
While how other road users behave is beyond our control, our skills and riding abilities can be further fine-tuned for a safer ride, once we get back on our beloved two-wheels after the lockdown. Remind yourself of the essentials which you had gotten used to, before the lockdown. This must include – strapping the helmet correctly, finding a riding position which makes you feel at ease and confident, checking the bike’s health in terms of tyre pressure, brakes, chain slack, oil and fuel levels, etc.
Once you begin riding, give yourself time for the act of riding a motorcycle to become second nature. Spend enough time to regain confidence in your skills, the machine underneath, the traffic around you and road conditions. Like everyone else, we could also end up being complacent or neglectful about traffic conditions on the road, and might take things for granted. Avoid speeding even if the roads look empty, and traffic-free. A lot of stray animals have taken to the roads and they are not prepared for the sudden rise in traffic numbers. Be attentive, observant and kind to them.
Now that you look all set to get back to the occasional riding post ‘Unlock 1.0’, make sure you take more precautions than before, improvise your riding skills, be patient, kind, observant, and always wear proper gear. Most importantly, stay sanitised at all times and maintain social distance by avoiding large group rides. Happy and Safe Riding to you all!