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OPINION: Responsible riding

Motorcycle drivers show balance skills in a limited space as part of an annual event put on by the Gold Wing Road Riders Association (GWRRA), held last August in Summerside. The Drill Team is the only recognized team in Atlantic Canada, and it originates in the Annapolis Valley.

(Desiree Anstey/Journal-Pioneer)
Motorcycle drivers show balance skills in a limited space as part of an annual event put on by the Gold Wing Road Riders Association (GWRRA), held last August in Summerside. The Drill Team is the only recognized team in Atlantic Canada, and it originates in the Annapolis Valley. (Desiree Anstey/Journal-Pioneer) - The Guardian

Everybody benefits by having more good bikers on Island roads and highways

BY PETER NOAKES

GUEST OPINION

Having criticized two sections of the motorcycle fraternity in my last letter, I feel it is time to enlarge on my views on what should be a desirable situation in Charlottetown, and the Island in general in regard to private mobility. I offer no apologies if some riders felt insulted. I do believe their behaviour needs to be called out, as they are part of the negative view that many people have of riders in general. So I offer here an opinion piece on a possible blue print to improve the traffic situation here, as well as provide respectful relations between various sectors of road users.

First, despite the anti-social behaviour of a minority, most riders are careful, polite, law-abiding citizens of both genders. Some ride for pleasure, others as an economical way of getting around, and all kinds of combinations. Obviously, riding is going to be a fair weather activity but there are some rugged individuals who ride, mostly sidecar outfits, through the winter.

Encouraging greater use of two-wheelers has many benefits. As any bike takes up much smaller space than even a small car, it would seem sensible for the city to encourage their use as much as possible. Being generally lightweight means the roads are damaged much less. Environmental issues would indicate the value of small nimble frugal machines instead of cars. Parking provision should be a bonus for the city.

But it isn’t. How many times do we see a bike parked in a space that a car would occupy? That does not impress car owners. How many times have I been given a ticket for parking my little scooter in a perfectly sensible spot that is not suitable for a car, is in the way of nobody, that has no “Don’t park” sign, but it is not a designated parking space?

Possible solutions would be to design and provide free parking spots for motorcycles that are easily accessed, and do not impede car parking. Three-wheelers would have to be treated as cars as they are almost as big.

In a bid to improve general public awareness of the value of bikes to the traffic situation, the province could initiate an education program that raises awareness of the presence of motorcycles for the sake of safety, which they do now to a limited extent. Naturally, responsible riding behaviour on the part of motorcyclists can be part of that program.

Enforceable rules on noise should be part of any civilized community. I would like to see tourism support an annual biking event that occurs on the last Sunday of September in cities all over the world, the Distinguished Gentlemen’s Motor Cycle Ride, a rally that raises funds for research into prostate cancer, and brings the motorcycle fraternity into a positive light within the community. And it’s not just for men, many women are riders these days, and they participate with equal pleasure. It is a hoot, and a great tourist attraction.

Motorcycles can be dangerous. I have been riding most of my life, and at 73 I’m still here. I would advocate defensive riding lessons for all who apply for their first license, and every five years thereafter. It would save money and lives. Car drivers should be severely punished for impaired and distracted driving. P.E.I. could be a centre of excellence in the provision of such training, and that would bring in some revenue.

have a wonderful environment for the touring motorcyclist. I do believe this could be enhanced by good road rules, good promotion, and an encouraging culture. Everybody benefits by having more good bikers on this Island.

- Peter Noakes of Charlottetown is a life-long rider; member of the Historical Motorcycle Club of Queensland, Australia; member of the British Motoring Association of P.E.I.; races classic motorcycles; and restore antique motorcycles.

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