My motorcycle journey started with city parking, or rather, a lack of it. Sure, Robert Pirsig’s book catalyzed my desire to ride, but what really got me interested was seeing three motorcycles parked in one curbside space. Not the most exciting riding motivation, I know, but the practical benefits of motorcycle commuting are hard to ignore. And if you’ve been thinking of doing it, too, the upcoming International Ride to Work Day might be the best time to get started.

What is International Ride to Work Day?

car safety, motorcycle, how to

Someone on a motorcycle rides to work surrounded by commuters in cars | Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

You might be familiar with Bike to Work Day, which is all about the benefits of cycling to work. Well, in many ways, Ride to Work Day is like the motorcycle equivalent of that. However, it’s more than just that. In addition to being the name of the event, Ride to Work is also the name of the non-profit volunteer organization that runs it.

Their roots stretch back to 1989 when Minnesota-based rider clothing company Aerostich started an ad campaign titled ‘Work to Ride, Ride to Work.’ The campaign’s tagline caught the eye of Fred Rau, a motorcycle magazine editor. Then, in 1992, he modified it to title an event he was planning wherein people rode their motorcycles to work. That was the first Ride to Work Day, and it was popular enough to get a sequel. And it eventually got so popular that in 2000, the eponymous non-profit sprang up to keep everything organized.

Originally, International Ride to Work Day was the third Wednesday in July. But in 2008, the organizers moved it to the third Monday in June to make riding conditions more favorable for more riders. Remember, July is mid-winter in the Southern Hemisphere. And that’s been the event date ever since, even through the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year’s Ride to Work Day is the 31st running and it takes place on June 20th.

How you can ride your motorcycle to work safely

Technically, the event’s full title is ‘Annual International Motorcycle and Scooter Ride to Work Day.’ So, even if your two-wheeled motor vehicle isn’t a motorcycle, you can still participate. And yes, electric scooters count. Plus, this isn’t the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride: there’s no style guide.

Also, although Ride to Work Day is nominally about commuting on a motorcycle/scooter, those working from home can take part, too. In the end, it’s all about putting “you and your motorcycle in the public eye,” RevZilla explains. And that requires a bit of planning on your end.

First, make sure your motorcycle is in good shape mechanically. If your motorcycle has a chain, check the tension and lubricate it if necessary. Inspect your cables, tires, and brakes, too. And double-check that your mirrors are set up correctly. By that, I mean that you can see most of the road on either side and behind you without turning your head.

Next, assemble all your motorcycle safety gear and clean it and/or replace it if necessary. And if your bike doesn’t have luggage or storage space for your work-related items, get a suitable backpack. At a minimum, it needs to have a sternum strap, RevZilla says.

In addition, your mental state and riding technique is just as important as your gear and motorcycle’s condition. Keeping safe in a city or similar environment means staying visible while assuming no one sees you. Wearing bright colors helps, as does using your turn signals.

But that’s also why the Ride to Work organization is so passionate about this event: widespread motorcycle visibility.

Car drivers need to help keep riders safe, too

Monday is Ride to Work Day! It occurs on the third Monday in June. ?
To keep motorcyclists safe, we urge everyone to share the road and be alert. We also remind motorcyclists to make themselves visible, use DOT-compliant motorcycle helmets & always drive sober. ?#LivermorePD

— Livermore PD (@LivermorePolice) June 16, 2022

On that note, drivers have responsibilities as well when it comes to motorcycle rides. Those people on two wheels have just as much right to the road as you in your car. Just because motorcycles and scooters don’t move like cars doesn’t change that.

So, how can people in cars make Ride to Work Day 2022 safe? For one, pay attention, especially where your blind spots are concerned. Secondly, understand that size discrepancies between bikes and cars, combined with how our brains work, make it easy for motorcycles to slip your gaze. And don’t overestimate or overly rely on ADAS features.

Also, don’t be surprised if you come home thinking about learning how to ride a motorcycle. Who knows, maybe you’ll join on your own bike in 2023.

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