By Mark Tharme

Each year the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) publishes their annual list of Canada’s Worst Roads. Drivers, motorcyclists, cyclists and pedestrians vote for the roads they think are in most need of improvement – be it potholes, congestion, safety concerns or poor road signs.

I live in Hamilton, Ontario, and I am painfully aware that my city has the dubious distinction of chronically having the #1 worst road in Ontario. Burlington Street was recently renamed Nikola Telsa Boulevard to honour the Serbian-American inventor and engineer, ironically it continues to rank as the province’s worst road.

Here in Canada, May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. This got me thinking about how important road conditions are for motorcyclists. Let’s face it, if you hit a pothole while driving a car or truck, it’s uncomfortable. If it’s really bad, or you hit it the wrong way, (what is the right way to hit a pothole, anyway?) you can blow a tire and/or throw out your alignment.

What happens when a motorcycle hits a pothole? If you ride, you already know the answer. There’s a very good chance you will crash. You can be seriously injured, or even killed. If a rider comes off their motorcycle due to poor road conditions, they are vulnerable to being hit by other vehicles or hitting immobile objects in their path.

If a motorcyclist can detect a pothole or major bump early enough, they can take evasive action, adjust their direction and slow down. Until they have been repaired or at least temporarily identified with highly visible markings, potholes pose a serious threat to motorcyclists.

What can you do to help? Report potholes immediately. Whether you drive a car, ride a motorcycle or bicycle, walk or run, when you see a pothole or any other road obstruction, call and report it as soon as possible. You can call the public works department of your city or municipality. You can call the local police department. Don’t call 911 unless you believe it to be an emergency situation. A sinkhole or dangerously deep pothole qualifies as an emergency.

Drivers, always leave extra space when following a motorcycle. If you ride, always leave extra room between your motorcycle and the vehicle in front of you so you can see what’s coming.

Finally, I invite everyone to take the Motorcycle Safety Pledge this May. There’s a pledge for riders, passengers, motorists, and friends and family members. It only takes a minute to read them all. And please remember, motorcycle safety is everyone’s responsibility.

Go to motorcycling.ca and take the #MotorcycleSafetyPledge. My friends, my family and I thank you.

Mark Tharme is a partner with Muse Marketing Group in Hamilton, Ontario. He has been involved with road safety campaigns, and writes about marketing, consumer behaviour, and social media issues. Some of his best friends are motorcyclists.