Calgary, AB,

Motorcycle Safety Month rolls into May

Despite fewer vehicles on the roads last year, 2020 saw an increase in fatal collisions involving motorcycles. Five people lost their lives and more than 90 other collisions occurred, some with life-altering consequences. This year, during the Alberta Traffic Safety Calendar, Motorcycle Safety Month, we are calling on riders and drivers to be aware and drive with care.

In addition to increasing motorcycle safety awareness in the month of May, we are also celebrating the 100th anniversary of the use of Harley Davidson motorcycles in the Calgary Police Service. Our records indicate that Indian motorcycles were first used in 1912 but proved fairly ineffective due to the road conditions. At the time most traffic enforcement was done on horseback by the Mounted Unit. In 1921, the Motorcycle Detail was re-instated with the purchase of a Harley Davidson equipped for police work and the Traffic Office was formed in 1941, making 2021 the 80th anniversary of the Traffic Section and the 100th anniversary of the Harley Davidsons in CPS.

The agility of motorcycles enables officers to patrol parks, pathways and remote areas not easily accessible by larger vehicles. Enforcement of certain offences such as distracted driving is easier, as is responding to calls during heavy traffic.

The current motorcycle fleet consists of 15 Harleys, although we are currently evaluating diversification of the fleet based on the needs of the Service.

In addition to enforcement, the motorcycles play a valuable ceremonial role as escorts for dignitaries and special events, such as the Calgary Stampede Parade. By far, one of the most important functions of the motorcycles is funeral escorts. Although we can’t assist with every funeral, based on available resources on average we assist with more than 20 per year.

“Countless cards and thank you letters adorn our walls from families who have reached out to us for help during a very difficult time. It is an honour and we take this responsibility seriously,” says Traffic Section Sgt. Dale Seddon.

This week, our officers kicked off Motorcycle Safety Month with annual training to ensure they are ready for the summer riding season. The initial course requires riders to complete 80 hours of training on safe operation of a motorcycle, and each year officers must requalify on their skills.

“We want everyone to be able to safely enjoy their motorcycles this summer. As a rider, you are much more vulnerable to the consequences of poor decisions, be that of other drivers or unsafe riding practices,” says Sgt. Seddon. “Whether a collision is caused by the driver of another vehicle, road conditions, or a mistake on the rider’s part, at the end of the day it is often the rider and their family that pay the most significant price.”

Good judgement by both riders and drivers can make the difference between life and death.

Tips for vehicle drivers:

  • Adhere to the rules of the road. Distracted driving can cause you to easily miss a motorcycle.
  • Share the road – look twice for motorcyclists at intersections or when changing lanes.
  • Never underestimate the speed of a motorcycle. Their size makes their speed deceptive, in turn making it more difficult for drivers to judge timing.
  • Always check your blind spot before changing lanes.

Tips for motorcycle riders:

  • Adhere to the rules of the road. Speeding makes it difficult for others to be aware of your presence and more likely to misjudge timing.
  • Ride defensively. Stay out of blind spots and make every effort to enhance your visibility.
  • Be alert at intersections. Make eye contact with other drivers/riders before proceeding.
  • Protect yourself with the right gear and wear a certified motorcycle helmet, regardless of temperature or length of trip.