Monday, August 13, 2012

Watch for Motorcycles

To start off with, let me get one thing straight, I have nothing against 'Watch for Motorcycles' stickers, or billboards, or signs, or whatever.  I have a lot of family and friends who ride motorcycles (some of which have been in some bad accidents) and I like the idea of people trying to see them while they ride so that I don't have a premature funeral to attend.

That being said though, I think this 'Watch for Motorcycles' thing has only half for its story being told.

Here's what I mean:  I try very hard to 'Watch for Motorcycles' (like I said, I have some buddies who like to straddle  the engine) but today, as I was driving home, a motorcycle suddenly cut me off.  No amount of 'Watch for Motorcycles'-ing was going to stop me from almost hitting him.  So, I'd like to add my 'car driver's caveat' to the 'Watch for Motorcycles' thing.  That is, 'Don't expect me to watch for you if you're driving like a moron.'

So, I've compiled a few examples to help the motorcyclists.  First, know the conditions, and ride (or don't ride) appropriately.  How many times have we as motorists been driving down a highway or freeway in some heavy wind when we suddenly come up on a motorcyclist driving twenty below the speed limit?  How many times has it been raining and a motorcyclist is driving super slow on the freeway?  Look, man (or woman, whichever the case may be), you made a choice when you bought that bike.  You knew the tradeoffs.  You were buying a vehicle that would surpass mine in both gas mileage and badassery.  The drawback though:  It won't drive well in adverse weather conditions.  I'm all for 'Watch for Motorcycles'-ing, but if your vehicle can't drive the speed limit because of adverse conditions, it's time to be smart and pull it over until those conditions have changed.  It's part of the trade off.  I can keep driving, but will never look like a badass in my Ford Focus.

Another thought, you're driving a vehicle too, that means that you get to follow the same rules that we do.  This means that in traffic, you can wait in line with the rest of us.  I know that some motorcycle motors overheat easily and could explode if they aren't moving.  Two options:  Pull over and turn the bike off, or get out of the traffic.  Any motorist will tell you that when they see a motorcycle flying up the dotted white lines when they're in traffic, they get the sudden urge to open their door to 'see what's going on up there.'  And those who honestly haven't will start thinking about it.  It's rude, and kind of dangerous, so again, drive smart so we can 'Watch for Motorcycles.'

Just a few other things: Drive the speed limit (or thereabouts), don't weave in and out of traffic, and don't hug the line.  All of us motorists get nervous when you do any of this.  We're not sure how stable the two-wheelers are.  We rode bicycles and remember falling over, or weaving a little more than we meant to.  Give us some space around you so we have the opportunity to 'Watch for Motorcycles.'

Anyway, that's my rant.  Bottom line: if you really want me to 'Watch for Motorcycles' then please try to drive as safely and as cautiously as you can.  If you don't, then I can't feel too bad about not 'Watch for Motorcycles'-ing.