Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Quite Contrary

Last weekend Lady Luck and I were running errands in the Mustang. Since it was a nice day, we had the top down. If you've got to be in a cage, after all, a convertible isn't a bad way to go.

At the top of an off-ramp, some less-intelligent silly person tried to make a left turn from the far right turn lane. As those of us who understand rudimentary physics know, two objects can not occupy the same space at the same time.

I think brakes were invented because of people who don't understand that concept.

Our silly friend was fortunate, and the driver whose space was rudely invaded managed to stop in time to avoid being part of a fascinating scientific demonstration. Behind us was a semi. The trucker felt it was necessary to blast his horn.

If you've never been directly in front of a truck when it's horn blows, well, you don't know what loud is. My involuntary reaction was to put my hands behind my head and curl up in the passenger seat.

As we drove on, I slowly uncurled and took my hands away from my head.

Lady Luck commented that it's funny that I'm terrified of traffic in cars and feel perfectly safe on my bike, when most other people feel the other way around.

What can I say? Most other people are freakin' nuts.

Motorcycles have a "dangerous" reputation, but most of the people who get killed on them are drunk and/or untrained riders. In other words, dumbasses. There are always the unfortunate few, but there are always the unfortunate few who get killed in cages, as well.

On my bike, the only blind spots I have are those built into my head. I take up less space than a car, and as such need less space to dodge dangerous obstacles like remedial physics students in cages. Furthermore, I know how to look for, identify and evaluate dangerous situations. As my MSF instructor said, not all crashes are avoidable, but they are all preventable. I'm not terrified in traffic because I identified the danger and took action a quarter mile beforehand.

In a car, on the other hand, I've got blind spots, a huge footprint and sluggish handling to contend with. Plus, there are a variety of distractions available to me in a car. There's the radio to fiddle with, climate control settings to adjust, coffee-like beverages to drink, rapidly prepared hamburgers to eat, cell-phones to answer, and the list goes on. Who's really in control of where that thing is headed?

So, cagers, I ask you - Aren't you afraid to drive that thing in traffic?

2 comments:

Combatscoot said...

I feel just like you. I hate cages, period, but really hate driving one in traffic.
John

irondad said...

In an interesting coincidence, I was talking to a friend who's an Oregon State Police trooper. As of April 3 Oregon had just experienced its 100th traffic fatality for 2007. That's in three months! It figures out to be one death about every 18 hours.

If it was anythng but driving people would be outraged. "This activity must stop until we the government can implement more laws to deal with it!" Yet driving has become one of those weird things where nobody does much to improve their skills and just turns a blind eye to the statistics.

Being on a bike makes me safer, I feel, because I know what will happen if I don't get good information and make good decisions. It's not the cars that are dangerous, it's the complacency the drivers of cars show.

In the bike arena, about half our motorcycle fatalities have alcohol involved. Only a third are legally intoxicated which means the biggest culprit is impairment. Most of the impaired riding happens because riders don't want to risk leaving high dollar bikes behind. About 85 percent of the fatalities happen in corners. The crash occurs in the last third of the corner which means the rider wasn't looking far enough ahead to get all the information before they committed themselves.

Like your MSF instructor said, you can't be bulletproof but there's a lot you can do to take care of yourself!

Sorry to put up such a long comment. It's your fault because you put up a deep post!!!

Dan