Wednesday, March 28, 2007

A Shift in Thinking

I mentioned a few posts ago that I want to start commuting by bicycle once or twice a week(once I'm in good enough shape). As such, I've been reading up on strategies and tips for bicycle commuters. A lot of the info I've found for bicyclists applies just as well to those of us on motorcycles and scooters.

One of the best pieces of advice that I read (and sadly, I can't remember where I found it) was that non-riders will excuse themselves from riding by saying "the roads are too dangerous" (among other excuses). Those of us who ride motorcycles probably have heard that line too. The advice given to eliminate that excuse is to stop thinking like a cager.

The best route in a cage is not always the best route for motorcyclists and bicyclists. Cars want fast, straight roads. As such, the fast and straight roads end up packed with two-ton rolling paperweights. Those of us on more nimble vehicles can take advantage of the other roads. Instead of diving into the pit with the caged cattle, we can tool along back roads and through residential areas - probably cutting miles off of the route while we're at it.

For most people, the average speed during the commute is somewhere around 30 miles per hour or less. Right now, it takes me 40-50 minutes to make my 18 mile commute, so my average speed is right around 26 miles per hour. That's even including the 80 MPH blast down the freeway in the HOV lane. Clearly, I won't lose anything by finding back roads where I can ride at 45 miles per hour and avoid stop and go traffic.

Another excuse I hear is "but I love listening to music during my drive."

The variety of stimulation one encounters on even a short ride - sights, sounds, smells - eliminates the need for distraction created in a car.* With very few exceptions, cars are less interesting than lumps of clay. As such, those imprisoned need something to take their mind of the excessive tedium of driving. This, of course, is responsible for the number of cell-phone yapping, coffee-like-beverage swilling, make-up applying, newspaper reading, inattentive morons on the road. Boredom is torture, and for that, I almost forgive the idiots that don't see me.

Which leads to another change in thought process for those on a nimble vehicle: I can dodge you. A rider requires an area only slightly larger than the width of his/her shoulders, and a little longer than he/she is tall to ride in. Granted, I prefer more space for normal riding, but I can fit between two lanes pretty comfortably if I have to. It's a lot easier for me to quickly swerve eight feet to one side than it is for a vehicle with two extraneous wheels.

So if you're wondering how those of us who commute on motorcycles do it, well, there you go. We change the way we think about travelling, and thereby sidestep the problems created by the cage-mind.

*And if you really, REALLY miss your music, you can listen to headphones.

1 comment:

Combatscoot said...

The cage-mind is alot like thinking in the box.