Sunday, July 18, 2010

Motorcycle Parking Lot Dangers

Motorcycle Parking Lot Dangers

I’m beginning to think that parking lots are just as dangerous, if not more so, than riding on streets or freeways. No, I have not been involved in any parking lot skirmishes, but I have seen the aftermath of several automobile parking lot crashes recently. So, when you turn off the main drag don’t relax and let your guard down. I think there are more dangers per foot in a parking lot than on the main road.

For one you have a lot of vehicles that have to be backed out of parking spots and a lot of them will be doing so blindly. It’s not that they just don’t see you like when riding in traffic, it’s that they can’t see you at all. Maybe those loud pipes will come in handy here. Parking lots can be more populated than streets or freeways. So, you have to be on your toes and proceed cautiously all the while being prepared to come to a sudden stop. Also, drivers tend to use their turn signals even less in parking lots than on the main roads.

Yes, you are (hopefully) slowing down but that also brings on its own stability issues you don’t have at higher speeds, losing the motorcycles gyroscopic stability. Slow speed maneuvering is an art form in of itself and is a skill if you are not proficient at I recommend hitting some empty parking lots and practicing before venturing out onto public bumper car lots. There are several good motorcycle books and DVD’s out on this very subject.

Another problem to watch out for is vehicles cutting across the lot and not in the designated driving lanes, trying to beat someone to a cherry parking spot. This happens even on empty parking lots with vehicles driving through the parking spaces.

Crowded parking lots also present the problem with pedestrians, especially small children, stepping out from between parked cars right in front of you. Shopping carts can come from anywhere as well. Trash and debris such as glass and cans are hazards that can also be found strewn haphazardly around parking lots.

So, the next time your turn into a parking lot, don’t start to relax. It’s not the time to put your head in stand down mode, on the contrary, it is time to be more on the alert and put those slow speed parking lot maneuvers that you have practiced to use. Ride safe.

Ride on,