National Ride to Work DayMotorcyclists celebrated national Ride to Work Day yesterday, with the encouragement of the United States Department of Transportation and Congress.

Ride to Work Day is an annual event that takes place on the third Monday in June, wrote Greg Winfree, assistant secretary for research and technology, for DOT’s Fast Lane blog. This year, more than a million riders were expected to hit the streets to commute to their workplaces, according to the Congress’ open letter to motorcyclists.

We are encouraged that motorcyclists are increasingly viewed as a viable transportation option, but that raises our responsibility to encourage safe and responsible riding and to make sure that all road users are conscious of motorcycle safety.

Motorcycle Safety Caucus

The post went on to encourage readers to help by contacting their members of Congress or joining the Congressional Motorcycle Safety Caucus (CMSC). 

The caucus is committed to increasing the safety of motorcyclists and encouraging training, licensing, and responsible riding. Also, since the car driver is at fault in more than two-thirds of fatal car-motorcycle accidents, the caucus also urges drivers of cars, SUVs, and other vehicles to be on the lookout for motorcyclists at all times.

Connected Motorcycle Consortium

Winfree shared encouraging news, that last year, three major motorcycle manufacturers created the Connected Motorcycle Consortium (CMC) to help further work on Cooperative-Intelligent Transport Systems’ applications for motorized two-wheel vehicles. Previously, the DOT added motorcycles into the Connected Vehicle Safety Pilot in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Representatives of BMW Motorrad, Honda, and Yamaha said the consortium will boost development of connected motorcycle and scooter technology. In addition, they ask other motorcycle OEMs (companies that make parts or systems used in another company’s product) to join the consortium so protocols can be standardized.

Winfree, a self-described lifelong motorcycle enthusiast, endorses the pledge for motorcycle safety. But he urges that domestic motorcycle manufacturers join in the effort. He visited some domestic electric motorcycle makers in California last week, encouraging them to look into participating in the new safety technologies.

Increasing Motorcycle Safety

For its part, the CMSC has suggested ways that Congress can increase motorcycle safety, via outreach, education, and legislation. There have been Congressional Resolutions supporting the month of May as Motorcycle Month; an event on Capitol Hill attended by Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx, bringing attention to Ride to Work Day; and making sure that the transportation reauthorization process remembers motorcycle safety.

According to the Colorado Department of Transportation, motorcycle drivers are required to obey the same laws as drivers of other motor vehicles on roads (along with some additional laws).

Helmet Laws

Although wearing helmets has been proven to save lives, riders 18 and older in the state are not required to wear helmets. But motorcycle drivers or passengers who are under age 18 are required to wear DOT-approved helmets. In 2006, 65% of fatally injured motorcycle riders were not wearing a helmet in states without all-rider helmet laws. That’s compared with only 13% in states that do have all-rider helmet laws.

Colorado does requires some type of eye protection for motorcycle drivers and passengers. That includes helmet visors, and goggles or eyeglasses with safety glass or plastic lenses. The law does not consider a windshield alone as adequate eye protection.

In Colorado, passing or overtaking a vehicle in the same lane is against the law. But motorcycles can share a lane with another motorcycle.