4.11.2007,12:16 PM
Courtesy, laws and communication
I could have been a statistic four times this morning during my morning commute. They were too close for comfort. Luckily, instead of being a motorcyclist statistic, all I got was a roaring headache. I should be thankful for that.

As a biker ('biker' = any person that rides a motorcycle), each of us accepts the inherent risk that is associated with riding a motorcycle. Our responsibility is to minify and mitigate the overall risk, riding public roads or off-road. First and foremost, we should be self-responsible by wearing protective gear, riding a safe bike, and riding in a safe manner. I won't belabor the points of the latter, which I realize are relative to each rider and the conditions. I'm sure you all know, or should know, what constitutes as 'safe'.

Bikers are required to ride defensively at all times on public roads, more than when driving in a 'closed' vehicle. Most times that requires expecting the worst from your fellow road-mates. Because we all share the same roads, a degree of basic courtesy and common sense is required. Regardless, because a percentage of drivers, and bike riders, ignore those two traits, laws are in place to not only guide traffic in a practical and safe manner, but to enforce those laws. Unfortunately, both courtesy and common sense appear to be falling by the wayside. It's almost archaic and as ancient as the dinosaurs.

The sheer number of all vehicles sharing the roads these days underscores the most important factor in driving anything with wheels: communication. Drivers of any vehicle communicate with other drivers by use of mechanical features designed and incorporated into the manufacture of anything on wheels: lights.

Brake lights indicate intent to slow down or stop; turn signals, the intent to turn or pass from one lane to another, flashing lights indicate a parked vehicle out of a normal designated parking area. The first is mechanically linked with depression of the brake pedal. Despite that laws dictate their use, the latter two are completely dependent upon the drivers whim. And that is where courtesy and common sense should prevail. But in reality, those two traits are quickly becoming extinct.

Few drivers signal their intention to turn, and even fewer when they change lanes on the highways. Turn signals seem to be only a thought during inspection time:

"Ma'am, your turn signals aren't working; your car will not pass inspection."

"'Turn signals'? What are those?"

I see people cut in front of each other, slow down and turn, and pass other vehicles without signaling their intention. As if the rest of us are supposed to be able to read their minds. Not only is that rude behavior, it's dangerous.

Riding a bike, that is sometimes compounded. Perhaps because they equate 'two-wheels' with 'small' or 'insignificant' or 'inconsequential'; drivers not only don't use their signals for intent, they reduce the space between us and them.

This morning two cars, one a jeep, the other a SUV, pulled in front of me barely leaving only two feet in front of my front tire and requiring me to execute emergency stops to avoid riding into them. Another car tried to pass me on the right shoulder when I clearly had my turn signal on and brakes applied to indicate I was entering the exit ramp off the highway. The driver clearly ignored my communication of intent. And then a truck turned on a red light in front of my path within a few feet while I was in an intersection with a green signal indicating I had the right of way.

I had four close calls this morning; by the time I arrived at the station I had a banging headache. And was in a very pissed-off mood.

As Head of State, I will increase the fines for failure to signal intent to turn, pass, or change lanes. Also, I will instruct all traffic enforcers to increase the enforcement of obedience to these laws. After the second warning or ticket, vehicles of drivers will have installed automatic motion detectors for passing, turning and changing lanes. (I'll leave it to the engineers to figure that one out.) When the device detects an infraction, the vehicle and occupant(s) will automatically disintegrate.

Poof; gone. Clean and painless. No road debris.

This should accomplish several results:
1. increased use of signaling devices with forced consideration of courtesy towards other road inhabitants (including pedestrians),
2. decrease accidents,
3. fill local municipal coffers,
4. reduce the number of drivers and vehicles on the roads. It's a human-contrived Darwin selection system.

Elect me for Head of State and the roads will be slightly safer for bikers.
And everyone.


posted by Macrobe
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