Techniques and Tips for New and Experienced Motorcycle Passengers

California Biker Lawyer and Motorcycle Attorney Norman Gregory Fernandez North of the Golden Gate Bridge
California Biker Lawyer and Motorcycle Attorney Norman Gregory Fernandez North of the Golden Gate Bridge

Riding on a motorcycle with a friend is one of the most fun things you can do. It could be a much more enjoyable experience if the passenger understands and follows quick and easy rules. To become the kind of passenger riders wish to ride with, try to remember the advice given below:

Wear clothing that will give you some protection in the unlikely event of crash or accident. At the minimum, you should wear the following to safeguard yourself:

Footwear that protects your feet and your ankles (hiking boots are excellent).

Durable pants–leather is most beneficial; if you don’t have or cannot get leather, you will need to get by with jeans, work pants, or something like that. An abrasion resistant jacket that zips or buttons in close proximity to the neck (again, leather is advisable should you have it; a nylon flight jacket or parka are satisfactory, and a Levis-type jacket will do in a pinch).

Durable gloves.

Eye protection–ideally, the helmet you borrow or own needs to have a face shield for comfort in addition to eye and face protection. If it does not, goggles are excellent, and glasses (dark or prescription) will do.

It’s also wise to make an effort to dress appropriately for any weather.

If you have not ridden as a motorcycle passenger very much, you probably do not realize how hot or how cold it can be on a motorcycle ride. If it is hot, it will feel a lot hotter when you are riding; when it is cold, it will feel a lot colder when you are riding. Ask the rider for assistance or tips on dressing for any anticipated weather conditions. When choosing comfortable attire, try not to compromise your minimum level of protection as described above.

On hot sunny days, one trick would be to wear an extra-large white shirt over your jacket. It’s going to reflect a great deal of heat and help keep you cool. (This is not one of my tips, but it is recommended by other riders) In general, it really is easier to dress safely and comfortably for just a cool day compared to a hot one. Lastly, don’t wear anything loose and floppy (like a long scarf or bell bottom pants) which could get caught in the rear wheel, sprockets, drive chain or belt, or any other moving area of the motorcycle. You could injure yourself, and might cause an accident.

Wear a securely fastened helmet which fits properly. Most riders have extra helmets and will also be glad to loan you one.

A helmet should be a snug fit; it shouldn’t be possible to twist it around on your head. The strap should be pulled as tight as you can get it without choking yourself out. You can try for fit, and also to find out if the strap is tight, by holding the chin bar of your full face helmet, or the side edge of an open face helmet, directly over your forehead, and attempt to pull the helmet backwards off top of your head. In the event the helmet ends up on the back of your head, tighten the strap or get a helmet which fits.

Under no circumstances should you ride with a helmet that will slip easily over your head with the strap on. The rider can instruct you on the best way to put on your helmet properly. If you ride often, you will eventually want to buy your own personal helmet. Just about any motorcycle shop will help you choose a suitable helmet which fits you correctly.

Before you decide to attempt to get onto the motorcycle, make sure that the passenger foot pegs are down. (They fold when not being used, and it is easy for the rider to forget to put them down for you.) If you do not know where the foot pegs are, have the rider point them out to you.

Also, beware of the exhaust pipes. Make sure you know where they are, and do not let your leg or any area of your body touch them when you get on or off of the motorcycle. They can and will give you a severe burn all the way through the heaviest pants if you touch them with your legs or another part of your body.

It is actually customary to get on or off the motorcycle from the left side. Always wait for the rider to inform you its okay to mount or dismount. Should you begin to clamber on (or off) when the rider does not expect it, the sudden motion of the motorcycle can and may be disconcerting to the rider. You might even pull the motorcycle over.

The best way to get on a motorcycle and the method almost all passengers should use is to extend your right leg over the rider’s portion of the seat, and then slide gently up onto the passenger part of the seat. Put your feet on the foot pegs and that’s it.

If you aren’t able to do that because you are a small person or perhaps a child, this method may work: put your left foot on the left passenger foot peg, lean your whole body all the way over the motorcycle, and gently step-up until you can swing your right leg over the seat and ease yourself down. You need to keep yourself low and lean over the center of the motorcycle as much as possible when you jump on, to help the rider keep the motorcycle balanced. The extra weight of your body, if it’s too far out of line with the weight of the motorcycle, could pull the bike over.

A person reasonably in close proximity to a normal size (man or woman) should never need to use this method to mount a motorcycle, and a heavy person should not attempt it under any circumstances.

It’s all a matter of balance; the rider may not be sufficiently strong enough to hold a large motorcycle upright should you cause it to get out of balance.

To dismount, just reverse the process you utilized to jump on. After some practice, getting on and off will become second nature.

Once you are on the motorcycle, plant your feet on the passenger foot pegs and keep them there under all circumstances. You do not want to bring your foot into contact with the ground, rear wheel, drive chain, belt, or the hot muffler.

Never make an attempt to assist the rider to hold the bike upright when it’s stopped by putting your foot down. Keep the feet safe by keeping them on the foot pegs at all times.

Place your hands on the rider’s hips. This is the best way to keep hold of the rider, and it keeps you in touch with the rider’s movements. Keep your weight centered over the motorcycle. Try not to move around any more than is necessary, particularly when the motorcycle is stopped, because it affects the balance of the motorcycle.

Motorcycles turn by leaning (banking like an airplane), not by steering like a car. So don’t be alarmed when the motorcycle leans over to go around a corner.

To set yourself into the right position perfectly for any turn, just look over the rider’s shoulder towards the turn. When the motorcycle is turning right, look over the rider’s right shoulder; when it is turning left, look over the rider’s left shoulder. You don’t have to do anything else; looking naturally over the rider’s inside shoulder will automatically put your weight exactly where it belongs in a turn. Keep your body in line with the rider’s body to prevent the motorcycle from leaning greater than the rider intends. (When going straight, it does not matter which shoulder you gaze over.)

Never lean beyond a turn; you could cause a crash that way.

When the rider applies the brakes, it creates a forward weight transfer on the motorcycle. In the event the rider is forced to brake hard, as in an emergency, this forward weight transfer will be very apparent to you; you’ll be forced up against the rider, and you will begin to slide forward on the seat.

Don’t panic. Try to keep back, off of the rider. Resist sliding forward by pressing your feet up against the foot pegs; make use of your thigh muscles to manage your position on the seat. Should you slide forward, you may force the rider forward, decreasing the rider’s control of the motorcycle. Additionally, it moves the weight distribution of the motorcycle forward, reducing the weight on the rear tire and therefore the traction of the rear tire, which makes it much more likely that the back tire will begin to skid. Obviously, none of this is desirable. Try to keep yourself from jamming up into the rider by using your foot pegs and your thighs.

You will be an active participant in the ride by staying alert and being prepared. Help the rider search for potential danger, and stay prepared to hang on and hold yourself back in the event you anticipate a need for sudden braking.

Likewise, in the event the rider is forced to swerve the motorcycle in order to avoid a hazard in the road, you have to be prepared for a sudden lean and change of direction.

It’s also possible to assist the rider by scanning for animals that may run into the street. Dogs and deer are particularly unpredictable, and you might see a deer on a hillside above the road, or perhaps a dog in somebody’s yard, before the rider. (After all, the rider is concentrating primarily on the street.)

In the event you spot a hazard of any type that you think the rider is unaware of, rap the rider on the appropriate shoulder, and point at the hazard in a manner that brings it to the rider’s attention.

If you or a loved one has been involved in a motorcycle accident anywhere in the State of California, call the real California Biker Lawyer Norman Gregory Fernandez for a free consultation at 800-816-1529 x. 1.

California Motorcycle Accident Attorney and Biker Lawyer Website

Weekend Warriors

California Motorcycle Accident Attorney and Biker Lawyer Norman Gregory Fernandez
California Motorcycle Accident Attorney and Biker Lawyer Norman Gregory Fernandez

It has been estimated that approximately 90% of all motorcycle riders are weekend riders only. That is, they only ride their motorcycles on Saturday or Sunday only.

I am not sure how true this statistic is, because I sure see a lot of guys and gals riding their motorcycles to and from work during the week.

Hell, in some cities like San Francisco, there are hundreds of motorcycles and small scooters parked in downtown during working hours.

If the statistics are true that most people who ride motorcycles are weekend warriors, then that is a troubling statistic for me; here is why. The art of riding a motorcycle is in fact an art. The more you ride your motorcycle, the better you get at being a motorcycle rider.

Experienced riders, who take time away from riding their motorcycles, necessarily take time to become proficient riders again, and the only way to become proficient is to spend time back in the saddle.

Right now it is winter time and many motorcycle riders cannot ride their motorcycles because of the weather. They too will need to take it easy when they get back on their motorcycles when the weather breaks.

Therefore weekend warriors or people that have taken some time away from riding need to take it real easy when they get back on their motorcycles so that they can get used to riding again, even if they have taken 5 days off from riding their motorcycles in between weekends.

Another issue weekend warrior’s face is Sunday drivers; even Saturday drivers are Sunday drivers. What is a Sunday Driver? A Sunday driver is a driver of some kind of cage such as a car, truck, SUV, etc., that rides around on the weekends with their family in the vehicle, distracted by a family outing, and not paying attention for people riding motorcycles.

Therefore weekend warriors more than most motorcycle riders, need to take it real easy on their motorcycles. Do not speed, pay attention for cagers about to turn in front of you, and realize that your riding skills take time to come back after a 5 day absence from riding.

By California Motorcycle Accident Attorney Norman Gregory Fernandez, Esq. © December 11, 2011

California Highway Patrol Officer Injured in Motorcycle Collision at the 134 and 2 Freeway Junction in Glendale; Maybe the Accident could have been avoided with a Safety Device.

Glendale CHP Motorcycle Accident
Scene of Glendale CHP Motorcycle Accident

A California Highway Patrol officer was hospitalized with major injuries Tuesday afternoon after he was knocked off his motorcycle by another driver during an attempted traffic stop on the 134 Freeway, according to a CHP traffic report.

Officer J.D Fields, 59, an Altadena resident, suffered a broken femur and wrist after the accident, which occurred around 1:40 p.m. near the intersection of the 134 and 2 freeways in Glendale.

Fields had seen a vehicle pulled over on the side of the road and moved into the right lane, put on his lights, and slowed down to approach the car.

A woman driving a 2010 Nissan vehicle was behind him and failed to see him slow down, according to the report. She veered quickly out of the lane and then “for unknown reasons,” moved back into the right lane and hit Fields’ motorcycle, the report states.

Fields was thrown from the motorcycle and onto the road. He was transported to the Huntington Hospital shortly after the accident.

The cause of the collision is still under investigation, according to the report.

This crash brings to mind a safety feature for motorcycles that I think should be implemented; a brake light that triggers with sudden deceleration of a motorcycle.

Let me explain. We, who ride motorcycles, tend to downshift to decrease our speed on most if not all occasions, before we hit the brakes.

If a car traveling fast behind us, does not see brake lights when we downshift to slow down, they do not know we are slowing down, and they rear end us.

I think that is exactly what happened in this rear ender of Officer Fields.

I have been on rides and seen motorcycle on motorcycle rear end collisions due to the same reason.

If there was a sudden decoration device on our motorcycles that triggered the brake light, I think we could save many a biker and motorcyclist lives.

For you inventers out there, maybe you can come up with something. Maybe a device like this should be mandatory for motorcycles.

It would appear that Officer Fields in the accident mentioned above, not only has a Workers Compensation case against the California Highway Patrol, and a separate Personal Injury case against the woman who hit him from behind.

The law in California is that a person driving behind another person, has a duty to maintain a safe distance from the car or motorcycle in front of them, so they can stop in case the vehicle in front of them stops. It appears that the woman is at fault in this case.

If you or a loved one has been involved in a motorcycle accident anywhere in the State of California, call the real California Biker Lawyer Norman Gregory Fernandez for a free consultation at 800-816-1529 x. 1.

By California Motorcycle Accident Attorney, and Biker Lawyer

Even Experienced Motorcycle Riders Need to Be Careful Riding!

 

Norman's Harley Davidson Electra Glide in the NBC Parking Lot before action shots were taken
Norman's Harley Davidson Electra Glide in the NBC Parking Lot before action shots were taken

Well it has been 40 something years since that sunny summer day in the sixties when my dad first put me on a mini-bike in the fields behind the housing development where we lived at the time.

I have ridden some form of motorcycle ever since.

I will admit that from time to time, especially when I was in my teens, and early 20’s, I was not so concerned about motorcycle safety.

Since becoming an attorney who handles motorcycle accident cases all over the State of California, and becoming a recognized expert on the subject of motorcycle safety, I figure I am really careful at least 99% of the time. The other 1% of the time I do foolish things like maybe crack the throttle and go real fast, or wear no helmet in States that have no helmet laws; stuff like that.

Well today I did a bonehead thing that could have cost me my life.

You see I have been to NBC studios twice in the last few weeks to be interviewed by an Emmy award winning news producer and her team, and to have action shots taken of me on my motorcycle. I am not going to go into any detail with regards to this piece, until it airs so don’t ask.

Today was the action shot day. So I woke up early, suited up, and rode my motorcycle to the NBC studios in Burbank. Hell I went straight to the A lot today, that is where the insiders get to park.

Anyway, back to the subject of this story. It was a real hot day today. It was in the 100’s. It was so hot that I had a gallon jug of water in my tour pak, and when I got home it was hot.

So as I left the NBC studios, the Alameda on-ramp to the 170 freeway was closed so I had to take a detour. I ended up on Lankershiem Blvd. in North Hollywood.

I got into a left hand turn lane behind a big ass truck that had multiple cars in front of it.  This was on old fashioned light with no green arrow. If you are lucky two cars can turn when the thing turns yellow.

The light turns green and nothing. We did not move. It was over 100 degrees, I had long sleeves on to protect myself against the sun, and I had a full face modular helmet on.

I knew if I sat at this light another cycle, I would start to severely overheat the way I was dressed. I decided to move into a traffic lane to the right, flip a U turn, and make a quick right.

Well this is where my life almost ended. I looked in my rear view mirror, did not see anything, and then flipped into the traffic lane to the right. Just as I got into the lane, there was a friggen car right there. In other words, I cut off a car that was doing at least 35mph, on my Electra Glide. Had the guy not been paying attention, had he not hit the brakes, had I not accelerated like a bat out of hell, I would have been toast on the hot pavement.

I fucked up and I know it. When I went to flip a U turn the guy passed me and gave me a hand signal which means “what the fuck” He put his hand out the window with the palm facing up. If you saw it, you would know what it meant. Anyway………….. Right after the incident, I thanked GOD for keeping me safe. I pray that way from time to time.

I analyzed what happened on the long hot ride back home. The first fuckup was that I was in too much of a rush to flip into the lane.

We riders of motorcycles do not get second chances like I got today. I was lucky. Next time I won’t be so lucky.

I should have not relied exclusively on my mirror; I should have turned my head to make sure the coast was clear.

A simple turn of your head can save your life.

The second thing I realized was that even though I feel that a full face helmet is the way to go for safety, it has an inherent flaw; it takes away your peripheral vision. Had I not had a helmet on, I may have seen the car. Then again, if the car had taken me out, I would have rather had the helmet on.

What lessen did I learn today that I am passing on to you; turn your head when changing lanes, don’t just rely on mirrors, turn your head, and take your time.

Yes it may be a little hot, or you may have to wait at a light in 100 degree weather. However, this inconvenience is better than ending up frying on the pavement in a pool of blood.

By California Motorcycle Accident Attorney and Biker Lawyer, Norman Gregory Fernandez, Esq., © August 2010

What do you do with your hands if you are stopped by the Police!

what to do if you are stopped by the police. **** 5/16/10 Update: Officer found guilty in shooting of sitting biker, see below for link.

**** 5/12/10 Update: See Video of shooting victim testifying in Court below.

When you are stopped by the Police in your car, on your motorcycle, or other motor vehicle, it is usually because the police think you have done something wrong.

It is very important that you keep your hands visible to the police officers for various reasons, the most important of which is so that you do not get shot or tasered.

Here is a link to some very disturbing video of a man being shot by the police while sitting on his motorcycle; click here to see video and story. The police officer is facing felony charges. The man who was shot is paralyzed as a result.

The police officers defense attorney is arguing that the police thought that this man had a gun. Judging by the video, it looks like a cold blooded shooting that was unjustified, however if you put yourself in the officers shoes, how did he know for sure that the biker did not have a gun when he turned toward him? If you were a cop, what would you do under similar circumstances?

I for one, sure the hell do not want to be the victim of a shooting such as this; who does?

There are a few things you can do to ensure that your encounters with law enforcement are safer for you and for law enforcement.

If you are in a car or other enclosed vehicle, turn off you ignition, place your car keys on the dash board, and keep your hands on the steering wheel. If the officer asks for your license and registration, ask the officer if it is ok to remove your hands from the wheel, and tell him where you are going to reach to get the information he or she is requesting. Once you get the information, put your hands back on the steering wheel until allowed to leave by the officer.

If you on a motorcycle, turn off the motorcycle, put you hands on the handlebars, and wait for the officer to approach. Do not remove your hands from the handlebars until the officer asks for your license and registration, at which time ask for permission to remove your hands from the handlebars, and inform the officer where you will be reaching.

In either case, do not exit your vehicle unless asked to do so, and do not get off of your motorcycle unless asked to do so.

I know many of you are thinking that having to do this is plain wrong. The purpose of the above exercise is not being right or wrong; it is to protect your life by assuring the police that you are not a threat.

I am not sure if this above procedure would have prevented the shooting of the guy on the motorcycle in the video, only god knows.

Officer found guilty for shooting, click here for story.

By Biker Lawyer and California Motorcycle Accident Attorney Norman Gregory Fernandez, Esq., © 2010

Northern California Town to photograph every car that Enters and Leaves

Tiburon, California to photograph every car entering and leaving town
Tiburon - California

Tiburon – California

Tiburon is a small town kind of place, with a small town kind of atmosphere. It is the kind of place where you get the feeling that everyone knows everyone else.

When one wanders through its little streets, just north of San Francisco, one gets the sense that a few of the residents, on seeing someone who appears not to be from around those parts, reach for their handkerchief and hand sanitizer.

How can one, therefore, be surprised that a meeting of the Tiburon Town Council voted on Wednesday by 4 to 0 to install cameras to photograph every single car that enters or leaves this little Disneyland? So much for the right of privacy eh?

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that this may be the first community in the country to have defended itself with cameras in such a way. The idea is to photograph the license plates of every car that treads Tiburon’s hallowed roads and compare the information with the police’s list of the stolen and nefarious.

The Tiburon police chief, Michael Cronin, told the Chronicle: “I think it makes the community safer.”

The Tiburon police–inspired, perhaps, by Google–promise that the information will be kept for only 30 days. Yea like we really believe him.

The strange thing is that Tiburon, a northern suburb of San Francisco, isn’t exactly Oakland. It doesn’t enjoy high crime figures. Indeed, some might say that the most criminal elements in the place are to be seen on the racks of its clothes stores.

The town is fortunate, however, in that it is on a peninsula, from which there are only two roads. So the total cost of putting up six cameras is estimated to be no more than $200,000, which works out at something near $20 per resident. (Tiburon residents enjoy, by the way, a median income somewhere above $125,000.)

I know there will be some who believe you can never have enough security cameras in this heinous and half-witted world. But perhaps some will worry that the police might make rather instinctive judgments about the provenance of certain cars and their intentions.

Others will wonder whether this decision might affect businesses in Tiburon. Still others will ponder whether the police might be willing to offer a Web site showing the movements of all its officers.

I merely wonder how many people, knowing they might have to go to Tiburon for a meal of organic Kobe beef, rosemary ice cream, and plenty of Stags Leap cabernet, will choose to remove their front license plates. You know, just to be on the safe side.

I for one think that it is un-American for any town in this nation to photograph every single car that enters or leaves a town. This is something you would expect from a communist country of some fascist country; not America.

I for one think that unless Tiburon changes its policy, I will not be spending my money in this town. I choose to not support what they are planning on doing. This is a bad trend.

Beware going to or leaving Tiburon, California, big brother is photographing you.

San Francisco California Motorcycle Accident Attorney and Biker Lawyer

Let’s Talk Real No B.S. Motorcycle Riding Safety; The Two Most Important Safety Items.

Norman Gregory Fernandez, Esq.
California Motorcycle Accident Lawyer and Biker Attorney Norman Gregory Fernandez on the road.

First off let me start off by stating that I do not advocate mandatory helmet laws or anything like that. I feel that each motorcycle rider should have the right to wear whatever they want to wear while riding. The advice I am giving in this article is just that, advice. You can and will ultimately do whatever the hell you want to do. However, if this article helps someone be safe while riding a motorcycle, then so be it.

I personally think that the two most important things you should wear while riding a motorcycle are; a good helmet, and a good leather jacket. Let me explain.

Now I know that there are other what I consider to be mandatory motorcycle safety items that should be worn, such as gloves, boots, leather or heavy jean pants, etc., however, this article is about what I consider to be the two most important safety items.

I am a California motorcycle accident attorney. I handle motorcycle accident cases, and other types of personal injury cases for a living. I also happen to be a biker and a motorcyclist who rides a significant number of miles each year on my Harley Davidson Electra Glide.

I have seen a marked increase in the number of motorcycle accidents, and a substantial increase in motorcycle deaths in the past decade. Furthermore, it has been reported by many different sources that there has been a tremendous increase in the number of motorcycle accidents and motorcycle accident deaths in recent years. I am sure these all have to do with an increase in the number of motorcycle riders on the road.

Knowing this, I can think of a couple of things I would not like to happen, god forbid if I do go down. I would like to keep the grey matter between my ears inside of my skull instead of being splattered all over the road, I would like to keep my face, and rather than having all my skin rubbed off by the pavement, I would rather a leather jacket be the one that gets the brunt of the punishment.

Look we all know that wearing a helmet is mandatory in California and some other States. I for one don’t care if there is a law or not, I wear a full face modular helmet when I ride, and I suggest that you do the same. This is not rocket science; it is about surviving a motorcycle accident. It does not take a genius to figure out what happens when your head or face meets the pavement at 70 miles per hour; the pavement wins.

There is virtually nothing better to protect your upper body from a fall than a good heavy leather jacket. If you go down, it may still hurt, but the leather will take the brunt of any road rash. They even sell lightweight armor that can be worn under the jacket or inserted into the jacket. I know, sometimes it is too hot to wear a jacket, or you want to look cool. Well it is not cool to have permanent road rash scars all over your body just because you decided not to wear the jacket, or suffering as your skin heals from road rash.

We who ride motorcycles know two things, it is not a matter of if we are going down, it is a matter of when; and we sure the hell do not want to go down. I myself have been down 3 times in the past. God was with me, all of my mishaps were minor, and I only suffered minor injuries in two of them.

I have been involved in numerous close “scary” calls while riding, and if you are a motorcycle rider, you have been too. It is just the nature of the beast.

Once at the Palm Springs Biker Rally in 2000, I was only wearing a sleeveless T-Shirt, when I went down at low speed. It hurt, and caused some minor road rash on my left side where I laid it down. That small amount of road rash hurt like hell. Imagine what losing multiple layers of skin feels like; I sure don’t want to feel that. Wear a friggen leather jacket.

You can take this article as you will. Unlike some other poser fake biker lawyers, and motorcycle accident attorney’s out there advertising that they handle motorcycle accident cases, when they don’t actually ride motorcycles, or have any clue whatsoever about the issues related to riding a motorcycle and being a biker, I am the real deal. I, just like you, am a biker and a motorcyclist.

I will be here for you if you need me after a motorcycle accident; however, I would prefer to see fewer injuries because you were smart and were wearing proper safety equipment.

By California Biker Attorney and Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Norman Gregory Fernandez, Esq., ©2009

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