There’s always been a disconnect with non motorcyclists as to why we choose to ride our motorcycles in rain, sleet, snow, or 110-degree heat thousands of miles when we could get to the same places in an air-conditioned or heated car or truck. You know, that whole if you have to ask, you wouldn’t understand thing. However, we seem to be heading down a very dangerous path with some of those cagers out there and the outcome won’t be good. It’s getting to become somewhat of an Us versus Them type of mentality on the roadways.
Back in our June issue of last year, Jordan wrote an editorial titled Help is on the Way. In that piece he cheerfully praised how the California Highway Patrol and Caltrans were running illuminated messages along the California freeway system that read, Share the road look twice for motorcycles, as part of its participation in the Look Twice Save a Motorcyclist grant. Of course as motorcyclists we were thrilled to see the posted signs on California freeways. To us it meant that for once our state was actually trying to help our community rather than make things even more difficult or suppress us with more laws and regulations. And it also gave us hope that maybe just maybe the signs would resonate with drivers and they would be more conscious of us and the environment around them.
Last year, there was an article in the San Diego Union-Tribune about how the posted messages were causing road rage amongst some motorists. Now by road rage, I’m not saying cagers were out aiming for motorcyclists like they were trying to pick up a seven-10 split, they were raging to the point that they felt the need to actually take the time to find the number for the San Diego Caltrans office to complain about the signs. The article stated, About a dozen callers complained that it wasn’t their job to watch out for motorcyclists who speed, double up in lanes with cars, or otherwise ride aggressively.
Wait, what? Are you kidding me, it’s not your job keep an eye out for motorcyclists? That’s just being ignorant and egotistical! Of course it’s your job to be aware, it’s everyone’s job. Everyone using the roadway has the responsibility to be aware of his or her surroundings and others using the road no matter how many wheels their method of transportation has. It’s disturbing (but not surprising) to me to hear that motorists feel this way.
Oftentimes many motorists think that since motorcycles are smaller and take up less space, they don’t need to give them as much room on the roadway as another car or truck. What they may forget or may not realize is that even though a motorcycle is smaller, it is still entitled to a full lane’s width of traffic.
Sometimes drivers get so self-obsessed when they get in their car or truck and hit the highway, it’s like they become oblivious to everything that’s around them. During my daily commute I’ll see people zone out or pick up a cell phone, newspaper, Big Mac, makeup kit, or whatever, and go on to do everything except pay attention to the 2,000-plus pound piece of machinery they are supposed to be in control of. I’m not saying that all motorcyclists are perfect and don’t speed or ride aggressively, but as a driver you can’t just put blinders on and say, OK, I’m not going to pay attention or watch out for anyone who isn’t obeying traffic laws.
We are all at each other’s mercy when out on the road no matter what kind of vehicle we are operating. Our safety depends on all of us being aware of our surroundings. There are just too many variables out there for people not to be paying attention to one another when on the road. Just remember to look twice. It’s a simple task and a good habit to get into before making any maneuver on the road; not only can it save your life but the lives of those around you.
Until next time,