Archive for November, 2012


Nature

Nature is a beautiful thing, and this is one reason many of us ride motorcycles.  Being able to feel the wind in our hair, the sun on our face, the bugs in our teeth, and the rain on our cheeks is pure bliss; and it is only through motorcycling that one can experience this bliss.  Of course, nature isn’t always blissful, and I am talking specifically about deer.  To a car or truck, a deer can be fatal, especially if it crashes through the window, striking the driver.  There is about a 1.3 to 2 percent chance that a collision with a deer will result in a fatality for the driver.  Usually, a collision with a deer will cause considerable damage to the vehicle, and leave the driver cursing at the now-dead animal on the side of the road.

When you remove two wheels and a protective bubble, however, deer can become extremely hazardous.  In fact, the statistic jumps to 75 percent of collisions resulting in fatalities. It is unfortunate that these animals, after dealing with a car, can’t go back and warn their friends of the dangers of crossing the road when the shiny objects come speeding towards them.  How do we combat an animal who doesn’t understand that running in front of a vehicle can be hazardous?  The only way I can think to avert a collision with a deer is through vigilance.   When riding, especially in the early morning or early evening, keep a sharp look out for deer attempting to cross the road.  I like to think that the noise coming from a Harley muffler may deter deer to run the other way, but this may be wishful thinking.  Spend the money to purchase HID for your bike to extend the range of the nighttime visibility.  Heck, add a deer whistle to your bike and maybe that will help.  Basically, it is up to you to look for deer to cross the road at any time, and since they can’t read, don’t think they will cross only at the deer crossing signs.

The rider in this video was extremely lucky.  BTW, there is some language in the video, but it is only expected.

As always, be safe and keep riding.

I live on the east coast, specifically in the DMV  (D.C., Maryland, Virginia), so I am forced to deal with traffic of epic proportions during specific times of the day–yes, I am talking about rush hour. If you have ever been in the DMV area between 6 am to 9 am or 3 pm to 7 pm, then you, too, probably understand my frustration.  The plethora of brake lights that populate the roads during these hours is a depressing sight, to say the least, and only intensifies when it is raining or snowing.

Traffic congestion during rush hour.

Whenever I am stuck in traffic, staring at the plethora of brake lights, I often wonder what could be causing the chaos.  Did someone fail to motor from point A to point B without hitting something, or did a turn in the road cause someone to brake suddenly in anticipation of stopped vehicles?  In either case, we are left with what I like to call the centipede: a series of stops and goes in three-feet increments as the traffic inches forward.

Traffic of motorcycles, but not congested.

I often wonder, too, if all the cars were replaced with motorcycles, would we have the same traffic issues?  I like to think not. To explain, I’ve been party to many bike rallies, and if you’ve ever been to one, then you’ve seen the number of bikes that can populate a single block, and at no time were we FORCED to travel below the speed limit because we hit another bike nor were the bikers overly concerned about stopped bikes around a corner.  It is the four-wheel vehicles and the inadequacies of some drivers, however, that cause this annoying traffic problem. Have you ever witnessed a car pushing forward in an attempt to block another car from entering the lane, usually at a merge area?  Well that idiotic move affects not only the cars in the rear but also the cars attempting to merge onto the road.  Or how about those idiots who know that a lane is about to close but continue to ride to the end before merging, once again affecting all the cars who have heeded the warning early and merged at a point that doesn’t slow the lane.

Attempting to merge

Now comes the dilemma: if you are on a bike dealing with these or other traffic issues, what should you do?  I’ve seen bikes ride the lane-divide lines, which I find to be extremely dangerous, for you cannot anticipate the movement of a car, especially in a heavy traffic situation.  Drivers are going to move their cars in whichever lane appears to be moving faster, which really is just a figment of their imagination.  Aside from being illegal, riding the lane divide can cause more problems than it is worth.  Of course, many of us are riding bikes that are air cooled; and if you are in traffic, there is no air cooling your bike, and, believe me, it will start to complain. So what can you do?  I have seen, and done, the move-to-the-shoulder technique.    However, this, too, can be dangerous due to potential debris on the shoulder, that and the narrowing of the shoulder over bridges and such.  Again, this maneuver is illegal but will help you get around the CARS that are causing the reduction in speed.

Motorcyclists want to be treated like every other vehicle on the road; we want to be accounted for and respected.  If we engage in actions like those mentioned above, then we reduce the level of respect we hope to gain from car drivers.  They will likely sit in their cars, shaking their heads, probably thinking we should be sitting in traffic complaining like the rest of the bunch.  We already have to deal with people failing to turn their heads before changing lanes, so let’s not add to the problem by running the lane divides or traveling the shoulder only to increase our chances of getting knocked off the bike.  I know what some of my fellow riding buddies might say, “well I gotta do what I gotta do”; and, honestly, I can relate.  I guess my point here is to avoid traffic whenever possible, so you don’t have to make a decision to do something that might get your hurt.

Lots of bikes, no congestion. Hmmmmm!!