Summertime is motorcycle season in Chicagoland, where road conditions and the cold keep winter biking to a minimum.
But road conditions can be a year-round blessing or curse for motorcycle safety. Motorcyclists, legislators, highway engineers and you can all do something to help keep bikers safe.
Waste in the street
The Illinois Litter Control Act prohibits littering the state’s roadways with just about anything.
Among other things, the act specifically excludes littering with “refuse, debris, rubbish … motor vehicle parts, furniture, oil, carcass of a dead animal, any nauseous or offensive matter of any kind …”
You’ll also find a mention of the “grass clippings or other lawn or garden waste” that many homeowners, lawn care professionals and even government workers sometimes rake or blow into the street.
A death or injury can result from only a thin sprinkling of cut grass on a curved road, or even on a straightaway if a motorcyclist needs to stop or swerve suddenly.
An international look at road conditions
The importance of the little things has been emphasized by a project created to look for innovative ways to improve America’s highways.
The International Highway Technology Scanning Program has sent teams of qualified observers to locations around the country and overseas to study roads and highways and understand who has tried what.
Observers reported much that in parts of Europe more granular attention is paid to making work zones safe for every kind of vehicle. Warning signs of interest mainly to bikers were common in European construction zones.
Belgian motorcycle clubs were organized to make “road quality rides,” and a roadway condition reporting app was aimed specifically at motorcyclists.
Awareness of motorcyclist safety was noted in the fundamental design of signposts, intersections, the texture of pavement markers, and guardrails.
It doesn’t appear that many of these measures have been, or would be, particularly expensive. Sometimes all it takes is thinking ahead and following the law to keep bikers safe on the road.