Follow by Email

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Los Angeles Times refused this as an Op-Ed....

Dear Fellow Vehicle Operators,

I left California for six years to ride my motorcycle and drive my car

in the Midwest. Upon my return I was greeted by such irresponsible

vehicle operations, I am scared to be on the freeway with you. First

to the motorcycle riders.

1- loud pipes will not make you safer or more visible. The sound from

your exhaust is going behind you, cars in front of you--at highway

speeds have no clue you are there. If you want to be more visible,

trade in the black leather and black t-shirt for something a little

brighter, like say yellow or orange. That will get you noticed when

someone checks their mirror.

2 - it is a car pool lane, not a drag strip. When I had a discussion

with a very nice CHP officer on the side of the 5 Freeway some years

ago, he said, lane splitting, or lane sharing, is not illegal, but

also not really legal. The guidelines he offered me to prevent a

discussion on the side of the road again was, "split lanes at no more

than 10 mph greater than the flow of traffic and never exceed 45 mph".

Thus, if the traffic is going 65-70, there is no reason for you to

blast past me on my bike at 80 in the car pool lane. Not only is it

stupid, it's illegal, the speed limit is 65.

3 - about lane splitting. Don't be an ass when you do it. The worse

of an image you create getting through traffic, the more bitter those

car drivers are when someone else needs to lane split.

I am not only targeting motorcycle riders in this commentary, Southern

California car drivers are not innocent by any means.

1 - you are not really fooling anyone by holding your cell phone three

inches from your face and using the speaker. In fact I think it makes

you more distracted.

2 - if your kids are blasting Barney or Lord of the Rings so loud in

the backseat entertainments system that you are getting annoyed, have

them shut it off. As an annoyed driver you are much more dangerous to

me on my motorcycle. Think back to the time when kids sat in the back

of the car and listened to whatever their parents wanted on the radio

and got yelled at for acting up. It's ok, they don't need to be that


3 - turn signals come standard on your car for a reason. If, between

the cell phone and coffee cup you can't manage to reach the lever,

stay in your lane until you can.

4 - I recognize that traffic is bad in SoCal, but if you miss your

exit, turn, driveway, etc. Go around the block and get to it on your

second pass. Slamming on your brakes and waiting for the lane to

clear so you can get into the store is not only dangerous, it's plain


I am sure my credentials need to be brought out to support this

commentary. Start with 41 years of motorcycle riding experience in

total with 33 on the street. I spent almost five years as a

California Motorcycle Safety Program instructors and 12 years working

on nationally published motorcycle magazines as a test rider/editor.

By no means am I a perfect rider/driver, but I practice what I preach

and am always complimented on my smooth riding and very relaxed

driving attitude. I want to enjoy riding my motorcycle to work each

day, not go at it with a fear for my life. If you see a 2009 Kawasaki

Concours piloted by a guy in a full riding suit with a tie showing

through the top of the jacket, please give me the courtesy of the road

that I will give you. Then, if you give it to everyone else,

driving/riding in SoCal may become fun again.

Howard Kelly