My husband and I ride motorcycle. He’s been riding since October of 2007 and has put a lot of miles on his bike. He rides to work (64 miles round trip) on an almost daily basis, and goes on a day long (8-14 hour) ride every week to two weeks. He loves riding.
I don’t get to ride quite as often. First, I don’t have a job to ride to, second, we don’t have gear for our son, and third, I’m scared of being around cagers. Let me tell you, cagers are jerks.
Cagers are what riders (in our area) call car drivers. In the past week, three separate events have happened that have reinforced my strong belief that cagers need to learn to drive.
I’d like to point out something really quick here — motorcyclists need to have a license to get their motorcycle endorsement. That means they know how to drive a car. Then they take a class and/or riding test to get their endorsement. So they’ve taking two driving classes learning how to operate a vehicle and deal with traffic. In addition, motorcyclists belong to a culture that strongly encourages taking follow-up classes. Everywhere we go that’s motorcycle-related — to buy gear, motorcycle parts, fix or tune our bikes, or even just hang out in a group or online — riding classes are promoted, from beginning to advanced to defensive. And we’re encouraged to take them every few years to keep our skills fresh.
In contrast, how often does the average car driver take a driving class or test? Take a moment to think about it . . . That’s right. Once. When they’re 16 or 17. And that’s it.
Now for the first of the three incidents.
Incident the First.
I was on my way up to Seattle from Tumwater with a friend of mine (“Ted”). He noticed a motorcyclist speeding by in the right lane, and made a derogatory comment about how fast the guy was going in the right lane. I pointed out that the motorcyclist was going about 70 mph (10 mph faster than the speed limit), while my friend, who was in the far left lane (technically the passing or “fast” lane) was going 55 mph. I could kind of see why, with people block the left and middle lanes, any vehicle would blow by in the right lane.
Anyway, I made some comment about how his lane positioning was better than other bikes I’d seen that day or something, and Ted said he hadn’t seen any other bikes. I kind of laughed in disbelief, because seriously, no.
I mean, it was 80 degrees and cloudless out. We’d passed something like 80 motorcycles just between Olympia and Tacoma. Sure, they weren’t in a huge pack or anything, but it’s not like you can miss a moving vehicle, right? I mean, seriously! So I was poking fun at him for this completely ridiculous statement, and a couple of motorcyclists ride by us. Of course, I say, “There go three right now!”
He says, “Where? Oh! I see them! Cool.”
And he wasn’t messing! That’s when I realized that my instructor in the MSF course wasn’t lying to me when he said that cagers don’t see us. Let me tell you — shock. I just stared at Ted. I mean, he’s one of my closest friends. He’s a good guy. He’s smart and funny and nice. Sometimes he runs stop signs and sometimes he forgets to signal a turn before he does it. He doesn’t always pay attention when he’s driving, but I wouldn’t call him the absolute worst driver in the world (that’s my dad).
But he could totally hit and kill or severely injure a motorcyclist. I did this paper for my English 102 class on motorcycle safety. As part of it, I pulled up all these news articles on motorcycle accidents where the car driver was at fault — quoted as so by the officer on the scene. Inevitably, the cager’s excuse was, “I just didn’t see them!”
That excuse just blows me away. It’s a moving vehicle. With flashing lights that signal our turns. And a headlight that we’re allowed to leave on during the day. HOW CAN YOU MISS US?!?