Motorcycle Road Rage
-Idiots are everywhere. We never seem to take greater notice of their numbers than while in the saddle. Not only because we riders are trained to be observant but because our very survival may depend on such observations. Nestled inside of a solid metal cage most of them won’t see their life flash before their eyes in a 15 mph collision. But for riders, that walks a fine line between life and death.
Inevitably, as humans are prone to do, we react to hostile elements with counter-attacks. It’s in our nature to perpetuate our own existence. So while being cut off by a guy without a turn signal may not be a true near-death brush, our brains kick into the same gear; counter-attack. When the grey matter screams “Neutralize the threat!” our cerebral cortex is the only barrier between the thought and the responsive action.
We’ve all had a touch of road rage. Even dear old sweet grandma has probably clipped a mirror or two. And anyone who’s taken a motorcycle on public roads for more than 8 minutes can tell you that there’s plenty of reason to be stricken with it. But this opens up a myriad of questions. Such as how do we riders find the balance between self-preservation and maintaining a clean image?
It all comes down to the preceding two questions. It’s a known fact that automobile drivers are far less likely to see a motorcycle than another car. Imagine how many times the phrase “I just didn’t see him, officer” has been uttered at the scene of a motorcycle accident. My point is that we have an urge to make sure people are aware of motorcyclists. The challenge then becomes how to do this while not degrading how people perceive us. We all must share the road, and we all have to deal with idiots. But unlike automobile drivers, we riders must also take care to maintain our image, lest the masses scorn us and put new restrictions in place. Restrictions, I remind you, which chisel away at the very soul of riding that we hold so dear – freedom.
I admit that in my younger years I was a poor example of how a motorcyclist should behave. I followed most of the traffic laws, but when there were idiots abound I acted like a God-appointed judge, jury and executioner. I had no idea at the time how it affected my image, nor did I care. Now a little older and much wiser I can look back and realize that wheelying past their window with a middle finger shoved towards them was not the best way to handle the situations. I have come to regret the damage that I have done to the motorcyclist community’s image, and all because of my ignorance and reticence.
I say we use that awesome little cerebral cortex to a greater extent when confronted with stupidity behind the wheel. Just because we must ride among the mere mortals in their shiny boxes doesn’t mean we can treat them like misbehaving animals. You wouldn’t strike your pooch because he wagged his tail too hard and knocked your coffee over; you’d make sure to set your coffee elsewhere. Likewise we shouldn’t strike out at drivers because of their ignorance. Pity them, cry for them or shake your head at them but forgive them for they know not what they do.
It’s my humble suggestion that we add an extra 5 seconds to our reactions when the road rage bug bites. Because as fulfilling as it may be to crack a full throttle next to their open window, it doesn’t do us any favors. The truth is that we must all coexist on these ribbons of asphalt and most drivers don’t intentionally endanger motorcyclists. So instead of kicking their door in at the next stop light, shake your head at them, point your finger and accept them for what they really are - idiots.
Keep it clean out there.