WhyBike Motorcycle Blog

The Last Zebra Theory

By James - 1/26/2005

I was reading a motorcycle blog about the future, Future transportation - looks like today, and it got me thinking about the past. Not just 100 years back like in the blog, but millions of years of evolution.

I have a close call about once a week. Combine potentially dangerous lane splitting with the second worse commute in the nation and it is only time before someone does something stupid, and that includes me. When that happens adrenaline gets released and my heart starts thumping. As soon as I am out of the immediate danger, I feel I need to go faster, which is the exact opposite of what I should do. But excessive speed is a widespread problem among riders and drivers alike. What is this need to risk your life for a few extra minutes?

I equate it to my Last Zebra Theory. As soon as a zebra sees a lion start the chase the zebra will start to run. Now while it is nice if the zebra can outrun the lion, the mere fact there are lions proves that this is not always possible. But the zebra do not need to outrun the lion. They must outrun the last zebra. I think that as soon as we get up to speed and get around other vehicles, our heard mentality kicks in. We want to put a buffer between us and the chasing lion. It may not be rational or conscious, but instincts rarely are.

We have reached the point in our technology where going faster is more dangerous, not safer as it has been for 4.5 million years. Now a little more than 100 years is hardly enough time for this self preserving behavior to be reversed and propagated through the motorcycling population by natural selection, but the fact that you can understand it may lead to you slow down at those cruicial irrational moments.



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