Kickstands up, it's that time of year again when the weather is perfect for hitting the highways on two wheels. For me, riding is a year-round, all-types-of-weather kind of thing, but the average driver will definitely notice more bikes on the roads when nice weather comes along. That means it's time for car drivers to share the road and watch out for motorcycles.
When the sun pops out and the weather heats up just right, plenty of bikers and their families put out "Look Twice, Save a Life" signs in their yards and storefronts. But that doesn't stop too many motorists from trying to plow down those of us on two wheels, either accidentally or seemingly on purpose.
If you've never ridden down the road without a comfy steel cage surrounding you, let me give you an idea of what it feels like to have a vehicle barreling towards you at 50 miles per hour with nothing between you and the full force of a Toyota 4Runner. It. Is. Terrifying.
Terrifying doesn't even really do it justice. It's that split second of realizing the chord snapped while bungee jumping when you have milliseconds to look back on your life before crashing to a very painful and unavoidable death. It's a two-ton rock sitting in your stomach, crushing the air right out of you. It's your heart racing so fast your certain it will explode. Nothing, and I mean nothing, compares to the fear of going down on a bike at just the wrong time.
Look, I get it. Motorcycles are harder to see than the massive carry-the-whole-soccer-team SUVs that almost rival 18-wheelers in size. It's understandable. But that's why drivers should be paying close attention to their surroundings. "Should" being the operative word here. What gets under my skin are those drivers doing 75 in a 40, cell phone in one hand, coffee in the other, driving with their knees, screaming at their kids in the backseat, who always seem to think everyone else is at fault for the accidents they cause.
Fender benders may be minor to someone in a Jeep, but they're often fatal to someone on a motorcycle. We pray to be lucky enough to only walk away with a broken arm, rib, and leg because too many of our brothers and sisters aren't so fortunate.
Here comes the part where someone always says something to the effect of, "Well if you know motorcycles are dangerous, why do you ride them?" and I roll my eyes so hard they almost fall out. Riding is fun, especially when we're not worried about someone killing us because they couldn't wait to get to a red light before posting that selfie on Instagram. We do it because we love it. We do it because it's exhilarating, and it makes us feel alive. We do it for practical reasons because for some, it may be their only means of transportation to and from work. And, we do it because it's legal.
That's what some car drivers don't seem to realize. I can't tell you how many times someone has run us completely off the road and looked back dumbfounded as to why we would dare drive on the same highway as them. Motorcycles, bicycles, mopeds, sport bikes, scooters - we ALL belong on the road, and it's up to all of us to keep one another safe by paying attention.
Unfortunately for us, every time bikers get out, we put our lives in the hands of the other people on the road, the ones with the bigger, heavier, stronger vehicles. It's rarely rider error that causes a bike to go down. Of course it happens, but more than half the time it's because someone in a car cut them off, changed lanes on top of them, or something else that cause the biker to swerve or slam the breaks. (Neither of which is safe to do on a motorcycle, I might add.)
Then there's other people who I think simply don't like bikers. They see us as something off Sons of Anarchy and don't really care about our lives. So let me set the record straight. We are doctors, lawyers, mechanics, reporters and sales people. We are also mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, brothers and sisters. We have lives. We have jobs. We have dreams. We have families, and we're just trying to make it home to see them.
So as the motorcycles pour out onto the roadways, just be on the lookout. Or better yet, listen. You can usually hear us coming way before you can see us anyway. Share the road, and remember it only takes a second to look twice and save a life.
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