Motorcycle 101 (Part 2 of 3)

Part 1 discussed some of the basics of motorcycling. Part 2 will deal more with practical riding tips.

6) Scan: Be aware of what is going on around you at all times. As a motorcyclist you must be an active driver. It is your life on the line, so be aware and compensate for bad drivers around you.

7) Pace: Ride at your own pace. Don’t follow the pack/leader. Do only what you feel comfortable doing.

8) Brake!: Learn to use both front and back brakes and PRACTICE! Make sure you can slam on the brakes as quickly and as safely as possible.

9) Lane Position:  Try to make yourself as visible as possible to drivers around you and make sure that you have an ‘escape route’ if a situation becomes dangerous. Assume you are invisible to most drivers so put in the extra effort to make sure they see you.

10) Double Check: Always perform a head-check when changing lanes or turning.

11) Triple Check:  Take the extra time to adjust your controls. Check all of the levers on your bike and make sure you can intuitively reach for them and find them instantly. You do NOT want to be fumbling around, trying to find the correct lever on a ride.

12) Comfort Matters!!!: Unlike with a car, your comfort matters when riding a bike. Here are a few important tips to remember that will affect your health and the safety of you and those around you.

a) Drink Water- Stay Hydrated. Especially on long rides.

b) Invest in Proper Safety Gear- A Helmet, Gloves, Over-the-Ankle-Boots, Riding Pants and a Riding Jacket. Even a minor                    collision can mean serious injury for motorcycle riders. You should AWLAYS ‘dress for a crash’ whether it is a short ride or a long ride.

c) Invest in Waterproof Gear – If you live in the Bay Area riding in the rain and low-lying fog will be a fairly common occurrence. So invest in some waterproof gear. The more comfortable you are when riding, the less distracted you are, the safer you will drive. It will be worth it.

d) Don’t ride on an empty stomach. Same reasoning as before. An empty stomach means you are distracted. Don’t be distracted!

e) Most of all, as cheesy as it sounds, listen to your body. Don’t try to push through discomfort, hunger or thirst because that means that at a minimum you are distracted, and on a motorcycle driving distracted means dangerous.

Check back soon for the final installment of the series, Part 3!


Kardas, Jeff. “50 Things New Riders Should Know (And Experienced Riders Shouldn’t Forget).” American Motorcyclist 66.8 (August 2012): 46-48. Print.

Allstate Does Good… Maybe?

“Every day in the U.S., an average of three motorcyclists are killed at intersections in crashes that involve other vehicles.” In order to help eliminate these crashes,  Allstate established its Once is Never Enough (as in, look twice before crossing the road) Program. As part of this program Allstate works with local traffic authorities to identify dangerous intersections and then donates and installs warning signs at these locations. The “Watch for Motorycle” signs have been developed by Allstate since no such official, standardized sign exists.


It seems that for once, Allstate really does have the driver’s best interests in mind. Although the program is probably nothing more than a marketing strategy (the signs are only going up in 30 U.S. cities throughout the year), it has serious potential, especially since the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 46% of all multi-vehicle crashes occur at intersections. Whatever the motive or extent may be, if these signs make even a few drivers look twice at an intersection than they have done their job and more.


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Motorcycles 101 (Part 1 of 3)

Motorcycling, whether as a hobby or as a practicle means of transportation, can be an enjoyable, money-saving endeavor. However, it can also lead to expensive, life-altering mistakes.Whether you are a motorcycle veteran or a relative newcomer it is good to remember that on the road you are vulnerable. In a recent article, American Motorcyclist outlined the 50 Things New Riders Should Know (and Experienced Riders Shouldn’t Forget).

1) Be Legal/Get Licensed: A piece of paper will not make you a better driver, but the attitude with which you approach motorcycling will. Get serious, get a license.

2) Passengers Second: Learn how to drive your motorcyle alone before adding a passenger. Remember, you are responsbile for your passenger’s safety, so make sure you are comfortable on the road before you take on that responsbility.

3) Don’t be Proud: Get training. Negotiating traffic on a motorcycle will be different from any other driving experience you have ever had. You may have ridden a dirt bike and you have probably been driving cars for years, but that doesn’t make you an expert. Bottom Line: it’s better to be safe.

4) Maintenance:

a. Do It Yourself- become familiar with your bike and whenever possible figure it out yourself. That way you will know when something isn’t quite right.

b. Check your tire pressure regularly and often.

c. For those problems that you just can’t fix yourself find a local mechanic. Strike up a rapport. Get comfortable asking questions. It is always better to ask a question then to be unsure.

5) Seek Local Knowledge: If you are just getting started riding in the Bay Area and San Francisco (or anywhere new) look for bike shops and events and talk to people. Seek out advice and suggestions. You might be suprised by what you find out and it will save you a lot of time and stress in the future.

Check back soon for more tips/suggestions in Part 2!

If you ever need a motorcycle accident lawyer, contact us for a free consultation.


Kardas, Jeff. “50 Things New Riders Should Know (And Experienced Riders Shouldn’t Forget).” American Motorcyclist 66.8 (August 2012): 46-48. Print.

Memorial Day Weekend Kicks Off Most Dangerous Time to be on the Road

Memorial Day weekend kicks off summer in California with great weather, end-of-the school year celebrations, picnics and barbecues. It also kicks off the most dangerous time of the year to be on the roads in California.

May-September sees nearly twice as many fatal motorcycle crashes as other months. Better weather means more people on the roads and this has already led to a spike in vehicle-related fatalities this year. Failure to wear seat belts and drinking-while-driving are huge factors in these accidents.

CHP Officers advise awareness of one’s surroundings and caution when on the roads. “I don’t think the average citizen realizes how many impaired drivers they share the road with” cautioned CHP Officer Sarah Jackson.

California has amazing weather, plenty of attractions and out-door activities and tons of roads to travel and explore.  However, it is important to be aware and to be safe when sharing the road.

Source: SJ Mercury News Article

Used Motorcycle Review’s “Most Common Causes for Motorcycle Accidents”

Last Thursday’s Used Motorcycle Review’s blog posttouched upon the 4 Most Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents. These are the difficulties faced by motorcycle riders that might be helpful to keep in mind while riding safely.

1. Driver Negligence/Blind Spot
Many drivers have difficulty spotting or noticing motorcyclists on the road
“Approximately 70% of collisions are the result of the negligence of drivers.”

2. Poor Road Conditions
Many collisions occur “due to the presence of curbs, debris, potholes, bumps or even roadside barriers” when a rider tries to avoid an accident. These are the accidents that have caused severe lower body and spinal damage, and sometimes even brain damage.

3. Speed Disparities
Accidents don’t always occur because of speeding, but can also occur as a result of going too slowly, compared to traffic flow around the rider. These accidents manifest as rear-ending or being rear-ended.

4. Other Factors
– Climbing skill of the driver
– Drunk driving
– Undivided roads
– Aggressive driving/recklessness
– Old bikes or old bike parts

Berkeley Police Work to Improve Motorcycle Safety

A couple of weeks ago, officers of the Berkeley Police Department were stationed throughout the city on streets with the highest rate of motorcycle accidents.

This operation came out of the growing issue of motorcycle fatalities in California. A CBS San Francisco article said that data has shown the causes of these accidents to be mostly:
  • Speeding
  • Unsafe turning
  • Driving under the influence
  • Inexperienced riding
If these are the causes of accidents, it would seem that police vigilance is not going to be the cure-all to our problem. Instead, the best way to decrease dangerous riding might be to improve the manner in which all motorists are driving out on the road. For motorcyclists, rider training is readily available to refresh your memory of the rules of the road. Such training is offered through the California Motorcyclist Safety Program, which can be contacted by visiting
The police may be able to catch and charge unsafe drivers and motorcyclists, but they can only address half the issue at hand with tickets and fines. It’s the motorists that will need to take on the challenge of safely sharing the road.

A Problematic New Law to Control Excessive Sound in Motorcycles

In the most recent issue of the American Motorcyclist Journal, former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was dubbed the Motorcyclist of the Year. This title was given to Schwarzenegger because of the impact he has made on the future of motorcycling through the signing of Senate Bill No. 435, a bill intended to address excessive motorcycle sound via an eco-friendly agenda.

The First Step: Customizing Bikes with CARB-Approved Pipes
Almost 4 years ago, in 2007, Schwarzenegger signed a similar bill legalizing dealership installations of California Air Resources Board (CARB)-approved emissions-related parts on new motorcycles, making these customizations compatible with “anti-tampering” rules which only allow the sale of factory-condition motorcycles.
The AMA’s Ed Moreland criticized the CARB law’s blind spot, noting that “the law didn’t mandate specific equipment. It didn’t restrict design or tuning creativity. It set an achievable sound level, and left it to the motorcycling community to meet it.” And because the community has not been responding to the government’s subtle prod, they are now subject to their forceful push in the form of Senate Bill No. 435.
The Follow Through: Senate Bill No. 435
This bill-turned-law “requires all California-registered motorcycles and exhaust systems built in 2013 and later to display a federal Environmental Protection Agency label somewhere on the exhaust itself, certifying that the exhaust meets federal sound standards.”
Though this law sounds potentially beneficial to the environment and people’s ear drums everywhere, several criticisms and concerns about its overall efficacy have been brought up, which, according to the article, are agreed upon by a range of people involved in motorcycling, “from lawmakers to motorcyclists’ rights organization leaders to business people.” They are summarized as follows:
  • Availability and Cost: Only a few aftermarket manufacturers currently offer the EPA-labeled pipes–pipes suited to a small class of specific motorcycles. And the cost to receive EPA certification will delay the availability of pipes for more bikes by more manufacturers. As a result, can we expect enough riders to buy quieter pipes?
  • Enforcement: The EPA label can still be on a modified exhaust that exceeds sound regulations whereas a pipe without a label could still be quiet enough to meet the law’s standards. And the location of these labels can be difficult for law enforcement to see, which might lead to an increase in unwarranted tickets–tickets that cost up to $100 on the first offense and up to $250 for subsequent ones. It is important to note that “a violation is considered a secondary offense, which means a police officer can’t stop a motorcyclist solely because the officer believes the rider is breaking the sound emissions label law.”

AMA President Rob Dingman insists that the AMA has “been saying for years that if the motorcycling community didn’t police itself on excessive sound, then the government would, and we wouldn’t like the results.” But Denis Manning of BUB Enterprises, a Northern Californian motorcycle exhaust systems company, believes that, despite their initial frustration, motorcyclists will eventually see the benefit of replacing their pipes to comply with the law.
In the end, the AMA’s stance on this issue is that only properly trained personnel can determine whether or not a motorcycle complies with sound laws through sound level tests based on an agreed-upon testing procedure.
What is your stance?

2010’s Rise in On-Highway Safety Issues

The American Motorcyclist Association recently published a chart of 2010’s national on-highway safety issues. Out of a total of 1074 issues, 439 were for “Distracted/Inattentive Vehicle Operation” which includes:

  • Cellphone usage: Restricting or prohibiting use
  • Bans: Text messaging, internet use, drowsy driving
  • Hands-free:Use of cellphone
  • Distracted/Inattentive driving
  • Restricting video displays
  • After crash: Police reports to include distracted-driver info, enhanced penalties

This is an increase of 135 cases compared to last year’s 304 (source). This jump shows a vast lack of knowledge on motorcycle laws.

If you are one of these motorcyclists who are unfamiliar with the laws, the AMA has a helpful database that could help you ride safely in every state: State-by-state motorcycle laws

5 Killed in Motorcycle-Car Collision

On Saturday November 13th, 21 people of the Saddletramps Motorcycle Club were riding 80 miles outside of San Diego on Route 98 when a man in a Dodge Avenger swerved into them. Four of the riders and the driver’s companion in the passenger seat were killed instantly.

Though the driver, Carlos Ramirez, was later arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence, Carl Smith, president of the motorcycle club, does not blame him for this tragedy.
What caused Ramirez, who was going 5 miles under the speed limit, to swerve into the motorcyclists was a Honda Civic that sped past him, forcing Ramirez off the road.
According to this article:
Smith doesn’t blame Ramirez, despite the allegation that he was driving under the influence. He considers Ramirez a victim because his companion died.
“It looked like he overreacted, but the guy in the Honda Civic was at fault,” said Smith, who estimated the Civic was going 95 mph when it passed the motorcycles.”
However, California Highway Patrol Officer DeeAnn Goudie remarked that had Ramirez gone off to the right, he would have landed safely in the sand.
It’s unclear whether or not he was under the influence at the time of the accident and whether or not it was a contributing factor to the deaths and injuries of the motorcyclists.
What are your thoughts on this tragedy?

Bicycle Helmet Laws in El Cerrito, CA

Matthew Gramly, a partner at Rahman Gramly LLP recently fought and won a case concerning El Cerrito bicycle helmet laws. Check out the press release below.


April 8, 2009

Press Release

Bet You Did Not Know that El Cerrito has a Helmet Law for ALL Bicyclists?

On the morning of November 5, 2008 Michael Schaller, a Berkeley resident, boarded BART with his bicycle and rode to the El Cerrito station. As he had done each day for the past year, Mr. Schaller, exited the train in El Cerrito with his bike to cycle the short distance to his office. As he rode his bicycle (in a striped bicycle lane) an El Cerrito motorcycle police officer stepped in front of him and asked, “Where is your helmet?” Mr. Schaller, who was aware that the California Vehicle Code only requires that helmets be worn by cyclists who are under 18 years old, was surprised at being stopped. As it happens, the El Cerrito Police Department was in the middle of a two-day “enforcement campaign” in the area of the BART station, the sole purpose of which was to cite bicyclists not wearing helmets.

Mr. Schaller was issued a citation for violating El Cerrito Municipal Ordinance Section 11.64.100 (c), which reads, “It is unlawful to ride a bicycle as an operator or passenger without wearing a safety helmet.” The citation carried a fine of $127. Mr. Schaller, who prior to receiving his citation had been unaware of the helmet-related ordinance, chose to fight this citation and hired the San Francisco law firm of Rahman Gramly LLP to represent him.

Matthew Gramly, a partner with the firm of Rahman Gramly LLP, represented Mr. Schaller at the March 24, 2009 hearing in the Superior Court of Contra Costa County. Mr. Gramly argued that the City failed to post any notice about their helmet law, as required by El Cerrito’s Municipal Code Section 1.10.010, the citation should be dismissed. Mr. Gramly also argued that as the California Vehicle Code is at odds with the City’s helmet law, the California law should pre-empt the local ordinance.

The police officer who issued the citation testified that despite many years as an officer, he could not recall ever having issued another citation under El Cerrito’s helmet law.

After taking the matter under submission, on March 26, 2009, the Court determined that Mr. Schaller was not guilty and the citation was dismissed. Mr. Schaller and his attorneys were pleased with the result, however, Mr. Gramly noted “My partner and I represent many cyclists and as a result of the often devastating injuries we see, we encourage all of our clients to wear protective gear, including helmets. The issue for Mr. Schaller was one of fundamental fairness.”

Be warned. El Cerrito has a helmet law and they are enforcing it.