It had started to drizzle as I walked from my cubicle to my bike through the parking lot. The planes seem to fly lower than usual in bad weather. Working so close to the airport you would think I would just tune them out. I had just left my cubicle and was donning my cold weather gear while my bike warmed up. I drove a couple blocks to the freeway on-ramp and let off the throttle as the car in front of me slowed to let a pedestrian cross the street. As I put my foot down to stop I hear the squeal of tires behind me. Usually in these moments time slows down and I run through my options and what I should to stay alive. I call it survival mode. But in this instance there was nowhere to go. I was too close to the car in front to get out of the way. Luckily the road veers right to get on the freeway and the Jeep Cherokee skidded to a stop next to me. Then he lays on the horn like it was not his fault. After all that the ped decides not to cross the street. I would jump back to the curb too.
The whole way home I was thinking about the reasons people give for splitting lanes. One being so they don’t get rear ended by the airhead behind them. That is probably the most common one. Not that splitting lanes would have helped me in this situation. I probably would have hit the pedestrian. (I have almost hit jaywalkers while splitting on surface streets, which is why I tend to believe the rumor that it is illegal to do around town.) As I read people’s rational for splitting lanes I wonder why people are afraid to give the #1 reason anybody splits lanes. It is convenience. Splitting lanes is not safer than sitting in traffic. Both rely on people paying attention and I contest that for every rider that gets rear-ended, there are ten that get cut off while splitting lanes. I ride every day, through some of the most congested roads in the country. It is a rare commute I don’t split lanes. It has saved me from over two months just sitting in my car in the last 5 years. I will submit that in my case, and many more, the convenience of splitting lanes outshines the danger. It is the same reason cars haven’t been outlawed, even though they are #8 on the top ten causes of death. Their convenience outweighs the 50,000 fatalities a year.
Motorcycling itself is not a dangerous activity, it is what happens if you crash that makes it dangerous. But for most the reward outweighs the risks but you must fully understand and be aware of them. Just don’t rationalize your way onto a motorcycle or you will find yourself belly down in the middle of the road after hitting a hard reality.Permalink
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