Riding your motorcycle is a great way to relax and destress after a hard day’s work. Given the stresses of the last year and a half, getting on your motorcycle and enjoying the beauty of Washington may be what you seek out to put you at ease.
Some of the benefits are obvious. Being outside can be calming and riding on a motorcycle makes it exhilarating and produces endorphins. Additionally, some find the routine comforting and distracting. After a long day of work, the ride home becomes comforting because all other thoughts are out of the way while you safely ride and pay attention to the road and those around you. Some even find the idea of preparing for the ride comforting, just the act of putting on your jacket, helmet, and checking your bike before a ride changes your mindset on a new task. There are also other benefits like making friends and the tight-knit sense of community that riders feel with one another.
However, there is also scientific data on riding a motorcycle and your health. Studies conducted by UCLA found that “riding increased epinephrine levels, increased heart rate, and decreased the ratio of cortisol to DHEA-S. Together, these results suggest that riding increases focus, heightens the brain’s passive monitoring of changes in the sensory environment, and alters HPA axis response.” Having a decreased level of cortisol, often referred to as “fight or flight” response, means that you are less likely to suffer from anxiety, headaches, heart attacks, memory problems, and insomnia.
Whatever your reason for riding, safety should always be your number one priority. Recent statistics shared by the Washington State Transportation Commission show some alarming trends over the last few years. Despite a decrease in vehicle miles traveled over the past 18 months, Washington has seen a 27% increase in serious injury and fatal crashes compared to other years. In fact, Washington experienced over 90 motorcycle fatalities in 2019 and 2020, the most in the state since 1982.
Sadly, 2021 has continued to be bad for the state. In the month of August 2020, Washington saw 68 fatalities on our roads, making it the deadliest since 2006. Unfortunately, August of 2021 was worse and saw fatalities climb up to 73 this year. Overall, the period from January to September saw an increase of 5.6% in fatalities and a 16% increase in serious injury on Washington roads this year.
Riding your motorcycle can be great for your health, but all of this should be a stark reminder that safety is always your number one priority when riding. Take all the necessary safety precautions as we head into the winter. Make sure to inspect your motorcycle often and always be cautious when out on the road and practice defensive riding. It is up to all of us to make the roads safer and ensure those statistics drop as we work to reach target zero.