Bone & joint health Featured Injury Prevention

Tips to help reduce risk for motorcyclists

Cody Marji

Cody Marji

As the weather improves, some of us choose to get around on the motorcycle. Whether you’re a new rider or an experienced one, Cody Marji, 26, a fellow rider, offers insights you may find helpful.

He has a more unique perspective. In June 2015, he was riding his motorbike on a major road when a motorist suddenly pulled out in front of him, from a side street, and hit him. As a result of the crash, he suffered severe injuries including multiple fractures and torn ligaments. He was treated at Sunnybrook by Dr. David Wasserstein, an orthopaedic surgeon in the Holland Musculoskeletal Program who specializes in the treatment of complex bone and soft tissue injury. Cody’s care was coordinated in collaboration with the teams of the hospital’s Trauma, Emergency and Critical Care Program.

“Family and friends were a huge support to get me through, and to get me stronger every day,” recalls Cody, who also had to undergo a year and a half of intense physiotherapy and rehabilitation.

Knowing what he knows now, when on the road:

  • Cody suggests, don’t cheap out on safety. Even though it may cost more, it’s worth it to invest in a helmet made of carbon fibre, and a motorcycle vest with a good amount of shock absorbing material. And always gear up, even for short trips. Less travel time doesn’t mean less protective equipment.
  • “Always be looking a kilometre ahead of you. Anticipate that drivers and other riders may do something impulsive. And reduce your speed.”
  • “Don’t stay in a blind spot.” He suggests learning more and perhaps practicing on open roads, how to safely and strategically place yourself within a lane, so you can stay in the line of sight of drivers as much as possible. “I also try to travel on open [less congested] roads as much as possible,” he says. “Or if you’re on a busy highway, try to find the spaces, so you can see. And be seen.”
  • “Watch out for gravel, especially in the Spring time, as you exit a highway. Road clean up is just starting, so there may be residual salt and gravel on the roads that often just looks like grey debris.”
  • “Give yourself enough distance, in case you have to stop suddenly. And think about what’s behind you, and that they have some distance from you too.”
  • “When the bike is at rest, your feet should be flat to the ground,” says Cody. “Some riders like to be on their tiptoes, but having your feet flat, is best for stability.”
  • “Avoid the riding in the rain as much as possible. Road surfaces are more slippery and there’s a higher chance you’ll slide out.”
  • Wear bright colours. And make sure your bike is well lit for more visibility, especially at night or if you’re riding and bad weather descends.

“The fact that Cody is young, and was athletic before the crash, helped in his recovery,” says Dr. Wasserstein. He also cautions, “A motorcycle travels in the open air at high speed. That means the experience can change suddenly depending on road and weather conditions, and the impulsive moves of others. Riders can reduce their speed, ride defensively and continue to follow the rules to try to reduce risk.”

About the author

Natalie Chung-Sayers

Natalie Chung-Sayers is Sunnybrook's Communications Advisor for the Holland Musculoskeletal Program and the St. John's Rehab Program.

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