A motorcycle rider’s lament

A motorcycle rider’s lament

I bought my first motorcycle in 1979 and except for a 15-year “parenting break”, I have been riding them ever since. The fact that my father rode motorcycles wasn’t talked about much. As we got older, the stories of both of our parents roaring around northern England on two wheels began to emerge. Perhaps because of genetics, motorcycles have played an important part in my life.

Motorcycles are an excellent substitute for therapy and you can just relax and let the wind push all of the bad thoughts out of your head. The enjoyment of riding extends across an eclectic group of different types of people. There are hard core “bikers” who live for nothing else but riding, building and fixing motorcycles. Other groups restrict themselves to sport bikes, or others adventure touring bikes. The local off road motocross group also have a hard core following.

Partly part due to the weather and the short riding season, the local riding population is small and generally speaking, pretty inclusive.

We tend to meet up informally and my riding partners include people across a broad spectrum including the legal profession, business people, trades people, people of different faiths, people with no faith and men and women from all across northern BC.

Like me, most people feel that it’s not important what you ride, only that you do ride. As a result of some recent incidents, and taking it upon myself to speak on behalf of the majority of these people, I would like to offer a few requests to the motoring public.

Firstly, we don’t know if you have seen us or not, or even if you’re paying attention.

Well over 75 per cent of motorcycle fatalities are caused by cars turning in front of the bike. It happens so often, we even have an acronym for it. SMIDSY stands for “Sorry Mate, I didn’t see you” and it frequently results in a dead rider, so please, look twice, and pay attention. This also includes rolling stops because quite frankly, we don’t know if you’ve seen us or not.

Next, there’s the helpful driver in front of you who pulls over onto the shoulder. This usually results in a shower of rocks, bark and debris all over the rider behind you.

This especially applies to people towing travel trailers and fifth wheels. The turbulent air behind these units results in horrible wind buffeting and dangerous handling, not to mention reduced vision.

It would be helpful if you stay in your lane and slow down a bit. We’ll get by you when it’s safe and we thank you for letting us by.

We’d also appreciate you not sharing a lane, especially on the highway. We know that we only take up 1/3 of a lane but in the past few years, I’ve had people drive up right beside me at highway speeds. I suppose the thinking is that we aren’t using the whole lane but really, we need that space to escape road debris, water or road hazards so please, in this case, regardless sharing isn’t a wonderful thing.

Finally, there’s distracted driving. This doesn’t specifically apply just to motorcycle riders, but as part of our defence mechanisms, most of us are hyper sensitive to what other drivers are doing. Some of the things people do behind the wheel would shock you.

So, from all of us riders who share the highway with you, that’s an incomplete wish list for us to get along better. Your attention is not only appreciated, it may help save our lives.