Most drivers understand that there are inherent safety risks with riding a motorcycle. Without a steel frame to protect them, bikers are exposed. Two wheels provide less traction than a family vehicle, and the small size of a bike can make it easy to overlook in a blind spot.

Many people enjoy both the physical and mental challenges required to be in control of a bike. In many cases, motorcycle clubs offer camaraderie in groups of people who share similar interests.

As you hear more engines revving up this summer, you might become curious about the motorcycle world. “Why do bikers ride the way they do?” could become the question at the top of your list.

Is there a reason bikers ride like that?

Unless you also ride, you may not understand some of the choices bikers make. Yet, you know you need to exercise caution around them to minimize crash risk.

Certainly, as with any driver, a biker could make unnecessarily dangerous choices. However, understanding some typical biker behaviors may help you increase your safety while you share the road with greater understanding.

You might be wise to consider why bikers would:

  • Move throughout their lane. Varying situations can dictate the safest lane alignment for a biker. For example, the middle of the lane is where leaked oil typically accumulates, potentially making the road slippery. Dirt or gravel on the road can decrease traction, and riders may swerve to avoid bumps, cracks or roadkill that could challenge their stability.
  • Slow down without using the brake. A rider may flash their brake to alert you of their intention to stop. However, downshifting is a common option for using a bike’s engine to reduce speed. In many conditions, this is done to avoid going into a skid by locking up the brakes.
  • Proceed through a red light. Since a motorcycle’s weight may not be heavy enough to trigger a traffic signal, some states allow bikers to proceed with caution if they encounter a “dead red,” or a traffic signal that doesn’t change. While this is illegal in Massachusetts, riders from out of state may not be aware of local traffic laws.

As always, maintain an adequate following distance behind a bike. Since riding skills vary, consider the possible safety reasons behind a motorcyclist’s actions, and drive defensively to minimize the chance of catastrophic motorcycle injuries.