Friday, February 6, 2009

Motorcyclists Make Safer Cage Drivers

It takes a lot more cognitive awareness to negotiate a motorcycle down the road than an automobile, or cage, as we like to call them. I have been riding my 2003 V-Star 1100 motorcycle now for almost a year. I have noticed some of my motorcycling cautiousness has rubbed off on my cage driving. This is a good thing.

When I’m in my cage at a minimum I tend to keep a better watch out for motorcyclists on the road. I am always taking my time to double-check my mirrors and physically turning my head to check blind spots and the lane next to me before changing lanes. Cagers have no grasp of just how fast a motorcycle can speed up and how nimbly they can change lanes.

While piloting a cage around I now find myself much more aware of my surroundings. When riding a motorcycle you are much more intimate with the road, traffic, and weather, after all, we have a lot more at stake because we have less protection. I find myself keeping a closer watch out on vehicles waiting to pull out of a side street or parking lot now. I’m also a lot more cautious when approaching a yield sign, stop signs and stoplights, always looking twice before proceeding.

I even caught myself slowing down in my cage the other day coming to a stoplight when it was starting to rain and the road appeared real slick, and the cage has anti-lock brakes! I find myself always watching the road for its condition and debris that might make navigation harder. I now approach cagers that are talking on the phone, driving erratically like they are intoxicated, or going slow doing a lot of stops like they are lost a lot more timidly. I try to give them a wider birth or go around when it’s safe to do so.

Even cage drivers that I know that have a relative or are close to someone who rides tend to be more cautious. I think its because they get to hear first hand of all the issues motorcyclists have to deal with. That alone is enough to make them a little more aware, hence safer. Take for example my lovely wife. She called me at work to let me know that on her way home from her job, when she went through a construction area on the freeway that we both have to drive through, she saw a gravel spill. How considerate is that?

I have come to the conclusion that maybe a part of drivers’ education should be to teach motorcycle riding to everyone. Then make them ride a motorcycle for a couple months. Heck, one commute on the freeways where I live in the Dallas / Fort Worth Metroplex would give them a real eye opener. Or, maybe they should just have to take a ride with someone to get a glimpse of what it is like to be on the other end of a loaded cage. I can say that the motorcycle riding experience has definitely made me a safer cage driver.

Ride on
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