Cycle safety

Correspondent photo by LORETTA JACKSON Merrimack Police Master Patrolman William Vandersyde demonstrates some safe driving during a recent town parade celebrating Independence Day.

Motorcyclists are out cruising once again. Soon, thousands from many states will rumble past local towns to attend the 94th Laconia Motorcycle Week, which is scheduled for June 10-18.

The event is touted online at laconiamcweek.com as the world’s oldest motorcycle rally. It features scenic tours originating at Weirs Beach, concerts, bike shows, motorcycle races and lots of barbecue.

May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. A sampler of safety advice for bikers and nonbikers alike is offered by local law enforcement professionals well in advance of the Laconia rally.

Merrimack Police Chief Mark Doyle, a motorcycle officer for a number of years, has owned several motorcycles, including a powerful Honda V65 Magna back in the 1980s. He advocates the development of a keen sense of awareness, even in conditions that seem devoid of danger.

“Anticipate accidents before they occur,” Doyle said. “Motorcyclists can be the safest of operators, but one careless move could spell disaster.”

Doyle also said wearing protective gear and maintaining a comfort zone of space contributes to self-preservation.

“Always wear a helmet,” he said. “Give yourself plenty of stopping distance.”

He advises motorists to be aware that bikes aren’t as visible as other vehicles on the road.

“Always double-check your blind spots before changing lanes,” Doyle said.

William Quigley, chief of the Brookline Police Department, is the owner of a Harley-Davidson Ultra Glide and a nearly lifelong motorcyclist.

Quigley said paying attention to all traffic laws is the first step toward safety. He promotes added vigilance at intersections.

“The trick for the motorcycle driver, when at an intersection, is to make eye contact with the driver and anticipate the car pulling out in front of you,” he said.

Quigley also said the public would do well to realize that motorcyclists are everywhere.

“Pay attention when you’re driving,” he said. “Purposely look for motorcycles. Motorcycles are out everywhere.”

Tips from the Hollis Police Department came from Master Patrolman Rick Bergeron, who has been in law enforcement since 1999. His first bike, purchased in 1988, was a Honda Hurricane 600. Later, he owned a pair of Suzuki motorcycles and a 2004 Harley. He now favors his 2007 Harley-Davidson Street Glide. He touched upon road hazards as dangers.

“Be aware there are many hazards on the road,” Bergeron said. “Railroad tracks, metal grates on bridges and leaves on the road can make the surface slippery and more challenging.”

Meanwhile, counsel from Lt. Michael Bernard, of the Bedford Police Department, focused on distracted driving. He is a veteran motorcyclist with some 25 years in law enforcement.

“Drivers don’t see motorcycles until they’re on top of them,” Bernard said. “There is so much technology today. Distracted driving is going to be a big problem, especially when school’s out.”

Fellow officer Rob Lavoie, who was ready to head out aboard the Bedford police bike, a 2015 Electra Glide, has eight years on motor patrol. He said turning and braking are too often troublesome maneuvers for the inexperienced.

“Practice, practice, practice,” Lavoie said.

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