“What Goes Through A Biker’s Head”

Everyone and his mom is linking to a pretty dumb Jalopnik “story” about a confrontation between a motorcyclist and a car. I hate to even link it again, I generally enjoy Jalopnik, and this story has its funny moments, but it’s totally off the mark and irresponsible as a commentary on safe riding, and I hate to think any of my riding friends actually emphasize with this wound-up, entitled jagbag.

We all know the single best bit of advice for scooterists or motorcyclists is “Ride like nobody sees you,” but riding with gritted teeth and a chip on your shoulder, and actually thinking that everyone’s out to get you, is foolhardy. We all rant about dumb ‘cagers’ are in fits of rage, but of the hundreds of people I’ve met who ride motorcycles and scooters, I can count the ones that don’t own a car on one hand, and I’ve seen plenty of scooterists and motorcyclists behind the wheel fiddling with their iphones and frying bacon in the passenger seat, too. I do it myself, and if you say you’re never been distracted while driving, you’re lying. For that matter, I see motorcyclists on the phone, listening to headphones, and fidgeting with GPSes, too.

When you’re riding, don’t feel entitled, don’t get angry, don’t engage homicidal drivers… drama happens on the road, whether you’re in a car or a motorcycle or a scooter or a bicycle. You can die. You can kill others. Just go with the flow, don’t think you’re entitled to special treatment because you’re on two wheels, treat others as you’d like to be treated, and for the most part everything will be OK. If you’re really a good rider, you’ll use your skills, your clear head, and your education to avoid bad situations rather than seeking them out and escalating them like a hothead looking for a fight at a bar.

If revenge and hate are what goes through your head in a near-accident, that’s maybe natural, but if you like riding and want to stay alive long enough to keep doing it, what SHOULD be going through your mind is a series of fast choices to ensure your self-preservation. Luckily, you can make other good choices well ahead of the crisis moment by choosing an appropriate bike, maintaining it well, learning to use it properly and comfortably, and wearing appropriate riding gear.

We’ve all been involved in near-misses and come up against aggressive drivers and it’s not easy. Whenever it happens, I often become so wound up that afterwards, I almost cause another accident. So think clearly, escape the situation safely, then pull over and calm the hell down, so you can share your story with friends later, rather than having a forensics crew piece it together.

(Illustration by the mighty Jason Bell, repurposed from his great comic in 2sb #3.)

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