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scooters_2The promise of spring weather undoubtedly will also bring new motorcyclists out on the roads. In light of that, we have a few suggestions for our Atlanta area and Georgia readers who are new to riding or are considering purchasing a bike this spring. When you get out to take a look at bikes you might want to purchase, your dealer should give you some guidance on a good first motorcycle. If you are buying a used bike, consider these tips before purchasing and riding. Here is the first part of a two-part post on what you should consider in getting out to ride for the first time.

Safety Made Simple — Rider Education 

The Georgia Department of Driver Services offers rider education programs under the Georgia Motorcycle Safety Program and can make your licensing process go smoothly. Riders under the age of 18 must take this course to get licensed and those over 18 can present proof of completion to avoid taking a road test. Safe riding for new riders should involve training of some kind. In addition to Georgia programs, the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) offers courses that can make your riding experience much more satisfying and can save you some precious dollars in insurance discounts. Another safety measure is to invest in a bike with an antilock braking system. Safe braking can be challenging for new riders. ABS brakes help riders avoid skidding in weather and sudden stops. Continue reading →

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Highway Fatalities Across America

The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) has long been a champion of motorcycle safety. Georgia’s governor is a member of this organization and also provides a great deal of motor vehicle safety information on the site Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety. According to the GHSA, there is possibly good news mixed in with not-so-good news on traffic safety for motorcyclists.

First, some good news — the number of overall fatalities on American roads is down from 40,000 in past decades to 35,000 in 2015. This should seem like a fine improvement. But the reductions we have seen across the country for many decades are now moving in the wrong direction. An eight percent increase in traffic fatalities in 2015 is a very concerning trend. But even worse is the upward trend in pedestrian and motorcycle fatalities which amounts to about ten percent.

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helmet-on-bicycle-10045610Here at Georgia on Two Wheels, we watch motorcycle trends, including such things as safer riding and how to avoid injury. As we come to the close of 2016, our hope is that this past year’s statistics on how riders fared across the country will be an improvement over 2015. We will not know that for a while as the statistics are gathered and published early next year. Our further hope is that 2017 is the safest year ever for both bike riders and bicyclists.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reviews and analyzes statistics on motorcycle riding in America. They also keep track of how safety measures help avoid injury and keep riders safer on the roads with other vehicles. We often share stories of riders who have been seriously or fatally injured while doing something they love … riding. We share them to make our readers more aware of what they can do to stay safe on their rides. We know for example, that many serious or fatal bike crashes happen while riders are traveling through, or turning at, intersections. We also know that helmet use can help protect riders. Whether you ride once a month or every day, we want all riders to make sure they know the latest data on how to avoid serious injury. The IIHS has recently noted what the federal government has reported … riders are significantly more likely to be injured or lose their lives than those in cars.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) noted in 2015 that a  over 4,550 motorcyclists lost their lives in accidents in that year. Although fatal motorcycle crashes declined in the early 1980’s, that decline turned into a steady increase until 2008. The increase has leveled out in the past few years. Out of all fatal motor vehicle crashes in 2015, about 13 percent were those riding motorcycles. Last year, nearly 30 percent of those fatally injured were those who did not hold a valid driver’s license, while only 15 percent of those fatally injured in other motor vehicles did not hold a driver’s license. Another interesting statistic is that in 2015 about 30 percent of fatally injured motorcyclists were under the age of 30. In 1975, 80 percent of fatally injured motorcyclists were under the age of 30.

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fallThe summer is long gone in the rear view mirror and we are fully into autumn now. Riders enjoy the gorgeous changing of the leaves on autumn rides, but something else changed. The sun is setting very early and darkness approaches much more quickly. Some riders prefer to ignore this early darkness, but it is important to consider how the fall changes the way we ride. We want our readers to consider some the hazards for motorcycle crashes that the changing weather, temperatures and light bring to the joy of riding.

One of the most beautiful aspects of fall riding are the changing of the leaves. The problem is, these leaves end up falling on the road and can cause many hazards. Not only can they hide defects in the road, but they also make a slippery surface. So as we ride through the changing colors, it is important to pay attention to where the leaves are and be more careful around them. Because the days are getting shorter, make sure that your bike lights are in great working order. And don’t forget to wear reflective gear so that caged drivers can see you more readily. Even the sunlight changes at this time of year and since the sun is lower in the sky, it can cause more distracting glare.

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Motorcycle rideA biking story of tragedy and survival at the Tennessee — North Carolina border is truly remarkable.  The lessons learned in this motorcycle accident are also important for all of us to remember. Who wouldn’t want to get out on an autumn ride on a great stretch of road with a pal? That is one of the most wonderful ways to ride. So it was as two friends rode together earlier this month on a curvy stretch of road called “The Dragon.” But sadly, things spun out of control. One the riders had to brake and his bike was hit by the other. They both went over an embankment and one of them was killed. The friend who survived was in deep trouble. Landing 150 feet below the road, the rider was still able to record his circumstances. He could hear bikes passing by, but was so severely injured, he could not move. His lungs were hurt, his bones were hurt, in short he was very seriously injured after his bike crashed.

He tried, but could not call out on his phone. He was able to record his terrible circumstances. Down a hill and very badly hurt. After a full day and night somehow someone heard him calling for help. He was so far down the hill with traffic passing above, that Tennessee authorities were stunned that anyone heard his calls. As rescuers located him and began to work on the difficult recovery, he asked what had happened to his pal. It is difficult to think about this tragic motorcycle crash and the friendship that was lost. Continue reading →

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Cyclists on country side roadCyclists know what it feels like to be vulnerable on the road. One of the dangers cyclists understand is the danger from the driver who does not see them or who is too impaired to avoid a bicycle crash. Because cycling has become one of the most favorite outdoor activities across the country, there are more bikes on the road. Cycling enthusiasts are found in so many settings, on mountains, on roads and on city streets; bicycles are all around us. We have become more like other countries around the world in which bicycles are prevalent. Not only are some Americans becoming less dependent on car travel, those riding are people of all ages.

There is always the potential that a cyclist will meet up with an impaired or distracted driver. Tragically, this happened here in Georgia last week. Athens, Georgia was the scene of a tragic bicycle accident that took the life of a 25 year old University of Georgia grad student. Two friends riding with her were injured in this Georgia bicycle accident. Reports indicate that she and the others were struck by a driver who was under the influence of drugs. The driver crossed over into the oncoming lane or traffic in this crash. The cycling community rode in her memory and is mourning the loss of her life.

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Biker stuck in trafficHarley owners and riders love their bikes and the lovely singing pipes that cause people without turning to say … “that’s a Harley.” Some say that having louder pipes might make caged drivers notice you and that is great for safety, but it can’t make your brakes work correctly. The Associated Press reports that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been hearing from Harley Davidson riders lately, nearly 50 of them now. The federal agency tasked with ensuring vehicle and road safety has begun an investigation into Harley brake failures. Harley Davidson is fully cooperating with the NHTSA. Riders have been complaining to the agency about the brake failures that include both the hand and foot pedals. Apparently, the investigation involves over 400,000 motorcycles. The span of model years is from 2008 through 2011. Five incidents have been reported, three of which resulted in crashes and two in injuries.

Although there is no current recall or other information on the status of the NHTSA investigation for the brakes on bikes manufactured during the noted time-frame, there are things Harley owners can check. It is possible that the brake failures that have been reported are on bikes in which the fluid has not been changed as recommended by Harley. They recommend changing fluid on a two year rotation. This avoids any potential problems with aging fluid corroding valves that are integral to the anti-lock braking system. Some might say that brake fluid should not be corroding a valve and that in itself could be a problem. This investigation might shed some light on that issue. Changing the fluid may not guarantee that the brake issue, whatever might be the cause, won’t happen to more riders. But for sure it is a good practice to check them yourself, or contact your Harley dealer to make sure your brakes are in good working order.

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1214589454Q2B5aOIt is nearly summer in Atlanta and charming pale blue bikes are about to sweep across our city. Cyclists and cycling enthusiasts will be pleased to know that this week Atlanta joins other cities around the country in the bike share craze. Atlantans will have the opportunity to rent a bike any time we need one, just about. Today, Woodruff Park is the site of the opening. Initially, there will be ten locations around town at which the public can rent or return a bike. There will be 100 bikes in the program to start with. The intention is to increase the program later this year.

Other cities around the country have had bike share programs in place which are successful and well-received. The system is user-friendly. It merely requires establishing an account with Relay Bike Share and following the directions to establish a code. When a user rents a bike, he or she uses the code to unlock the bike. Reservations can be made for a bike and returned to the various locations available at the present time.

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iStock_000006752189XSmallMemorial Day weekend ended in tragedy for two very popular Georgians. Both lost their lives while riding their motorcycles. On Monday afternoon, Memorial Day, a College Park police officer’s stellar career was cut short when he lost control of his bike and hit a median strip. He was riding on I-20 in Covington and was taken to a local hospital, but passed away there. The department chief and the entire department is struggling to cope with the loss. Our hearts go out to the men and women who served with him and his family.

Another fatal motorcycle crash took the life of a popular food truck owner over Memorial Day weekend. The owner of a jerk chicken grill food truck, who’s Jamaican heritage informed his recipes, was killed in a crash. His family is left with no income as the recipes were all kept only in the truck owner’s head and hands. The well-liked chef was killed while “racing” two other riders.

The Georgia State Patrol reportedly is investigating the crash. It appears that the riders were racing at about 75 mph in a 35 mph zone. The officer tried to get the riders to slow down. Only minutes later, an accident was reported in which the chef was ejected off his bike and was critically injured, passing away later at Grady Memorial Hospital. While the precise cause of Sunday’s racing crash is not known, it might well be that alcohol played a role. The chef had been at a Memorial Day party earlier in the day.

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iStock_000006752189XSmallIt is with a heavy heart that we post about a recent tragic bicycle crash in Hampton. We have written repeatedly about a growing trend across America. That trend is the apparent difficulty that motor vehicles are having sharing the road with pedestrians and cyclists. And now a beloved Henry County doctor has lost his life in a bicycle accident. He was riding his bicycle with a group of others and was struck by a vehicle. As the group was riding, a motor vehicle hit the doctor’s bike from the rear. No other bicyclist was hit or harmed. However, the doctor was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital and passed away from his injuries.

Although we do not normally name the victim of accidents in our blog posts, we believe the public should know about this wonderful man. Dr. John A. Harsch, the victim of this accident is said by all to have been a beloved physician and a popular and enthusiastic cyclist. His community and the wider Georgia cycling and medical communities mourn his loss. His devotion to medicine and the healing arts are only some of the important things for which he was known. He loved cycling and had a generous heart — going out of his way to help those in need.

The accident occurred in a location that involved a curve in the road. After the vehicle made a turn, for unknown reasons, the driver struck the cyclist. Authorities have said that the accident is under investigation. At the present time, it is not determined whether charges will be filed against the driver for the death of the cyclist. A grand jury will make the decision whether the driver will be charged.

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