'Safety is paramount for riders': Edmonton police warn motorcyclists to be vigilant

“Watch your speed, watch your lane changes. If you follow the rules, you reduce your chances of being in a collision. It’s risk management for everyone”

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Motorcyclists returning to the roads as summer nears need to be more vigilant, with several close-call collisions already, say Edmonton city police.

“We want to get the message out like we do every year to have people fresh into their motorcycle riding season to start out slow and be aware of road conditions. If there is still sand and gravel on the streets, it can be dangerous,” said Sgt. Kerry Bates with the police traffic safety unit.

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“Slow down, take it easy and drive within your skill level to avoid incidents.”

Police say that, over the last five years, there have been 635 collisions with motorcycles and 381 of those (60 per cent) have resulted in injury, while 11 of those have resulted in a fatality.

Bates believes there needs to be a heightened sense of awareness this time of year because crashes involving a motorcycle can pose more devastating results.

He added that because riding a motorcycle in Alberta is seasonal through the late spring and summer months, it takes time to get used to riding a motorcycle when motorcycle season comes around.

“Start slow, make sure to get your skill level back to where it was, and be safe,” said Bates.

“Watch your speed, watch your lane changes. If you follow the rules, you reduce your chances of being in a collision. It’s risk management for everyone.”

City police have already responded to multiple crashes involving motorcycles this season, including one on April 20 at 5:15 p.m. when a 23-year-old male rider sustained serious non-life-threatening injuries after his 2005 Yamaha left the road on 82 Street north of Anthony Henday Drive and rolled in a ditch.

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He was treated and taken to hospital by emergency crews.

In a second case on April 23 around 7:45 p.m., a group of riders were seen speeding and weaving through traffic northbound along Gateway Boulevard at 19 Avenue.

A 21-year-old male operating a 2012 Suzuki GSX600 struck the rear of a 2016 GMC Sierra 1500 truck. The rider was ejected from the bike and slid down the road. He sustained serious, non-life-threatening injuries and was transported to hospital by emergency crews.

“Safety is paramount for riders,” said Bates.

“When I (talk) about heightened sense of awareness, don’t take for granted when you’re going through an intersection. You may have a green light, but you need to have the awareness to watch peripherally to watch people coming up across your path.

“Sometimes it comes down to speed, but if you take your eyes off the road for just a split second, and you’re into some situation where you can’t correct yourself out of it.”

Bates says because of the vulnerability of riding a motorcycle, it’s important to take the proper training courses, and to pay attention to all the safety aspects of riding.

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Even if you’re a rider with that has their motorcycle licence and been riding for a few years, it’s important to stay up to date on the courses available through the Alberta Safety Council.

“There are advanced courses you can take to get more tips on things you may have forgotten. The money is a good investment to take (a course) over a weekend — it can re-instill some good habits,”  said Bates.

“For vehicle drivers and riders, the vast majority drive and ride the way they’re supposed to, but the ones that don’t stick out. There haven’t been a huge amount of bikes out yet, but with the weather improving, just over the next few days, it will pick up substantially.”

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