It’s been just over a year since the motorcycle accident that lead to the amputation of my right leg.  With the reflections that come with that, I am reminded of all the things that, if done differently, could have gone right.  Things done differently that would improve the safety of everyone on the road, motorcyclists, and other drivers alike. 

I’m not alone in my thinking.  A few years back a woman by the name of Liane Langlois wanted to see a reduction in the number of motorcycle accidents that were occurring.  She felt compelled to educate on safety, and spread the word.  She felt that as a community with a shared interest, we could make a difference.  With the help of other hard-working volunteers, a not-for-profit organization called the Alberta Motorcycle Safety Society (AMSS) was started.  Through this organization, she is making a difference.  We saw this acknowledged just a few weeks ago, when the City of Edmonton announced that May would now be known as Motorcycle Safety Month.  In June, they were presented with an award from the City of Edmonton and the Office of Traffic Safety for work pursuing safer roads.

I first knew of Liane through a Facebook group for motorcycle riders in Edmonton.  When she posted about the efforts of AMSS, I was immediately on board.  I found it ironic to later discover that she had been asked for a quote on motorcycle safety in a nationally-published article about my own accident. Ironic because my accident was on July 1st, which marked the beginning of Alberta’s Motorcycle Safety Month.

This past winter I reached out to Liane.  I asked her to share the specifics of AMSS so that I could in turn, share them with you.  Her efforts are a wonderful example of how our own desire for change can transform into a formalized activity within our community.  It’s a model that we can all follow.  It’s something that we can all benefit from…no motorcycle required. 

Who are we?

The Alberta Motorcycle Safety Society (AMSS) was formed by a group of concerned local motorcyclists interested in improving the safety on Alberta roads.  We are a registered non-profit society, established in February 2016. Through partnering with the motorcycle industry, municipal/provincial government and the media, the AMSS is quickly becoming instrumental in the promotion of motorcycle safety, education and awareness in Alberta.  Our annual campaign focuses on three main criteria:

  • Drivers – educate drivers when motorcycles return to the roads, watch for riders, learn where extra attention is needed, the inherent dangers of distracted driving, etc.
  • Riders – educate riders on their responsibilities to their environment and community by riding responsibly, obeying traffic rules on the road, being respectful, etc.
  • Mechanics & Gear – promoting street legal motorcycles that adhere to the Alberta Traffic Safety Act, promoting proper riding gear as a safety measure to all riders including proper and approved helmets, jackets, boots, pants and gloves.

How do we operate?

We started as five members who created the board to officially register with the province as a non-profit.  This was key not only for legitimacy but also for our plan to create Public Service Announcements (PSAs).  To qualify our PSAs with Think TV, which allows for a certain amount of free airtime, you must be registered.  ShawTV has been a huge help in creating our PSAs and helping us ensure our material qualify.

From that point on, it has been all about creating messaging to get out to the public through brochures, podcasts, videocasts and the ThinkBike sticker campaign, all of which are accessible through our website and various forms of social media.  Beyond that, we have been invited to speak at the International Urban Traffic Safety Conference and deliver the pre-ride safety speech at various charity rides.  The society has grown to have paid members and corporate sponsorship, and is approved for provincial grant money, all required to keep us pushing forward.

Our Goals

Our biggest goal right out the gate was to produce a comprehensive multi-media campaign in 2016 and we more than exceeded that goal with many thanks going to so many of the media who jumped on board.  We garnered the attention of the City of Edmonton for the work we were doing so we knew we were on the right track.

Our next goal is to expand to Calgary to reach more people.  We will achieve this goal with the launch of our 2017 campaign.  Long term we would like to be reaching everyone in the province and become a hub of information for safety, awareness and education.  We want to be the group that gets asked the questions so we can go out and get the correct answer and share it with everyone.  To have that one hub is critical for consistent and trusted content.

Of course our most important goal is to lower the injury and fatality statistics caused by collisions.  Everyone is somebody’s someone and we want everyone to get home safely.

Benefits to the Community

We create several different benefits to the community.  We have a well-balanced awareness campaign that focuses on both drivers and riders alike addressing some of the more serious issues on our roads.  Because of our growing relationships within the various industries we are working with, we have the ability to connect people to further individuals along.  And finally, we are a one stop shop for any information regarding motorcycling.  If we don’t already have the answer, we will get it for you from the best and most trusted source out there.  And well, it benefits everyone if their loved ones get home safely.

Community Participation

We have amazing support from the community as we continue to grow.  Many have signed up to be an official member of the AMSS.  Memberships are only $20 per year but it gives members reassurance that we are still around creating messaging and pushing awareness.  We hope that our Corporate Members will take some time to offer specials to our paid members at some point but for now, we don’t think $20 is unreasonable to help keep us going!  And you get quite a fancy card and a unique member number to keep!  Another way to support is to purchase any of our apparel or ThinkBike campaign stickers, all available through our webstore (www.ab-amss.org) or at events where we are set up!  Finally, and probably one of the most important ways for the community to participate, share the content we create through Twitter, Facebook, Instagram…anywhere you have an audience that can learn more about motorcycle safety and sharing our roads.  You don’t have to ride a bike to get something out of our message.  We all need to watch for each other and respect each other.

Why do we do it?

The founding five all have their own reasons but one part that is consistent is we all care deeply about promoting safety and awareness.  Alberta, for whatever reason, celebrates motorcycles awareness month in July where the rest of the country celebrates in May coinciding with the month the majority of the riders return to the roads.  With that, there is no awareness program, no PSAs, no real education.  We have found that it simply is a month where motorcycles are more closely checked for TSA compliance missing a huge opportunity to educate everyone on how to share the road.  We have no problem picking up that slack and are proud to be a leader in this initiative.  Really, we do it because most of us have seen the affects and we care enough to take a stand and try to make a positive difference on our roads.

To find out more, get involved or to connect with AMSS on social media, visit their website at www.ab-amss.org.