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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Notes from a motorcycle commuter

Please feel free to share this with all the car driving people you know.

Lately I commute about 90 miles a day, round trip, on a motorcycle. Five days a week, although sometimes just four as I work from home occasionally. But in that 360-450 miles a week of work flow traffic, I see a lot of people in cars--also motorcycles--doing things they shouldn't while operating a vehicle. And I see road courtesy being thrown out the window

1- texting. You are not fooling anyone by holding it on your lap to text. I see you look down and then see you drift in the lane to whatever side that your hand is on the steering wheel. The other fun texting thing you try is both hands on top of the steering wheel, phone cradled between two, and then texting. Guess what? When you do that, you slow down dramatically. Upwards of 10-15mph slower than the cars around you. Stop texting and driving

2- dealing with your kids while driving. Here is a fun fact: when you turn around in the seat to yell/talk/console your kid(s) you drift in your lane. I know because I have to avoid you. Have a kid issue in the car? Do like my dad did and say, "if I have to pull this car over, you will be sorry" and if you need to deal with the kid for any of the above reasons, pull over please

3- Eating while driving. Yes, some people feel it is a time saver I guess. In my car you are more likely to be thrown out in the street than chow down a cheeseburger, but that is just me. But folks, if you a re going to eat in your car, make it finger food. A bowl of cereal, or whatever it is you have in the bowl, well its simply not safe. Your first panic reaction is going to be not to spill on yourself, then second will be deal with the road situation. I hear beef jerky is a nice snack in the car, not messy and very little distraction. Plus its full of protein, probably good for you.

4- using your cell phone. Um, here in California we have a hands free only law, holding your phoebe two inches from your face using the speaker phone isn't dodging the law, its still in your hand. And, likely you are concentrating even more on that call because of the poor audio than if you held it to your face. Remember when driving was a chance to listen to the radio and not hear from people in the office/friends/wife/husband/kids? How about you play attention to the drive and not the call? I can tell when you are having a fun versus a serious conversation. Fun calls you speed. Serious calls you slow way down. Guess what? They both affect your driving

5- pickups and trucks carrying things. Please, please please add an extra two tie downs to your load. There is not a day that goes by I don't see something on the side of the road that I know flew off a truck or SUV that could have killed me had I been behind the vehicle when it fell off. Oh yeah, car drivers, you cannot hold a mattress, sheet of plywood or anything else down to your roof with your left arm. Tie it down properly please.

6- motorcycle riders and lane splitting. Yup, you guys are not exempt from my wrath. First, its a freeway, not a racetrack. Swooping lane to lane, no turn signal and in traffic that is already moving at 70-plus Mph is, well stupid. Communicate your intention, be cautious to drivers and make your lane change. Be respectable to car drivers, maybe  they will respect us. And lane splitting. When the traffic is basically stopped or moving 10-15mph, don't lane split at 50. You freak the car drivers out, scare them and piss them off. Then, I come along doing a nice, calm lane split and they don't want to let me by because you were an ass. And I see it enough to know this is true.

7- passing lane blockades. Folks you are not the police. It is not your job to sit in the passing lane, or the fast lane as it is known, and try to regulate traffic by driving the speed limit in that lane. Its my choice to risk a speeding ticket by passing in that lane--move over.

8-smokers and spitters. I am on a motorcycle. Where exactly do you think your cigarette ashes/butt or your spit go at 70mph when you send it out the side window? Nope. Not out the side like you intend, but behind you thanks to wind velocity. And guess who is behind you?

9- courtesy. All of us need to exhibit a little more of it on the road. See a slowdown ahead, let someone in your lane that is trying to merge. Driving a section of road with many freeway exits and entrances close together? Don't drive in the right lane. Let people use that for exiting and entering the freeway. Treat other drivers as you wish they would treat you.

Yeah I know. I ranted. But all of these things happen when I am on the road each day and all of them put my life in jeopardy and honestly, none of you have the right to do that.