Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Motorcycle Madness


We are told we need to "watch out" for Motorcycles.  Given the way they are driven, it is no wonder.

When I had motorcycles, I was paranoid about getting into an accident.  This did not stop me from getting into one, of course and having several near-misses.  It seems that automobile drivers are out to kill motorcyclists, at least it feels that way, when you ride a bike.

But lately, I feel less and less sorry for bikers.   It seems that most of them want to die, and do all sorts of idiotic things designed to get them killed.  And when they fuck it all up, well, it has to be the car driver's fault, right?   Every one of my friends who were seriously injured in a bike crash said that (and it is surprising how many of my friends were seriously injured in bike crashes).

I won't waste much space here on Crotch-Rocket drivers.  We've all seen them blow by us on the Interstate at 100 mph, going between cars, passing on the shoulder, and doing all sorts of illegal and patently dangerous bullshit nonsense.   Go on YouTube and watch the fun - people hitting trucks or other bikers at triple-digit speeds.  Usually they are killed instantly, but in many cases, the rest of us pick up their hospital bills for years of rehab.  And thanks to GoPro, we get to watch the carnage.

The idea of the "Safely driven Crotch-Rocket" is an oxymoron.  A 21-year-old, a W-2, a bike loan, temp tags and a new Ninja are a formula for organ donation.  Sign those organ donor cards, kids!  I need a new liver!  I'll take a kidney on the side, if you got it.

Traditionally, the big bike riders were more sedate and safe.  Harleys can hardly corner without dragging their pipes and while loud and powerful (mostly just loud) their hefty weight (and that of their riders) keeps their speed and acceleration in check.  And since they are so ungodly expensive, most of the riders were old farts who were retired and had huge pension checks.  Not the sort of folks who do stunts.

But lately, it seems, I am seeing appalling driving by "Hog" riders.   Yesterday, here in Canada, two very, very obese people in a "full dresser" were cruising through town at 30 kph - in a 50 kph zone - with a line of about 20 cars behind them.   This isn't safe riding.  If you want to "see the sights" then pull over, get off the bike and walk.  Driving obnoxiously slowly isn't safe and it isn't courteous.

But that palls next to what I saw today.   We are driving 80 kph in an 80 kph zone on a country backroad with lots of turns and twists and hills - with limited sight distance.  Not surprisingly, it is all a "no passing zone".   Another "full dresser" comes roaring up behind me and starts tailgating me.  Not smart.  Not cool.  He then decides to pass in a no passing zone on a blind curve on a hill.  He barely misses the truck coming the other way.  Stupid.

And what was the pass for?  Less than a kilometer ahead is a stop sign, and we catch up with him there.  There is a truck ahead of him and he pulls to the right of the truck, in the truck's blind spot, trying to keep the bike upright without using his feet.  The truck pulls away from the stop sign.  The bike is aiming to the right. The car across the intersection has the right-of-way.  The car tries to turn left, but the bike suddenly lurches leftward and goes straight across the intersection, nearly hitting the car.

Note I said "nearly hitting the car" not the car hitting the bike.   For the life of me, I could not understand this kind of nonsense.   And it was some middle-aged dude riding the Harley, too.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg.  I've seen it all.  On the Interstate (who the fuck rides a motorcycle on the Interstate?  No fun at all!) I've seen big-bike riders hog the left lane, pass trucks on the right (and nearly get run off the road when the truck changes lanes), ride people's blind spots, nearly sideswipe other cars - you name it.  On two-lane backroads, I see Harleys crossing the center line on winding roads, often when I am rounding the curve with my trailer.   This is just a death-wish, frankly.

What is going on here?  Well, part of it is the Culture of Belligerence as I have addressed before.  People think they are bad-ass because they signed loan papers on a new Harley - so you'd better get out of the way!  They cross into your lane and nearly hit you head-on and then give you the finger for not "getting out of the way."  Go figure.

Another art of it is this victim mentality that is so prevalent in our society.   Bikers are victims of big, bad old cars, we are told.  After all, all the bumper stickers say so!  So they can do whatever the fuck they want to do, and if there is an accident, well, it must have been the car driver's fault!   This is also an example of Externalizing- blaming problems you cause for yourself on other, often unseen, people.

Now, some might note - and it may be true - that we notice the bozo motorcycle riders a lot more because they do bozo stuff.  The safe riders are less noticeable.  They don't do dangerous shit and they drive carefully and so you don't notice their safe driving.  This may be true, but it seems to me that at least from an empirical perspective, I am seeing more and more patently unsafe motorcycle riding these days - and not just kids-on-crotch-rockets, but more "mature" adults on full-sized bikes doing really dumb shit.

So, yes, "Watch out for Motorcyclists" - because they are no longer watching out for themselves.   Apparently, they are putting all their faith in bumper stickers, and not in driving defensively.

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