Dying to be seen

I can’t believe the news today: yet another CNY motorcyclist is the victim of a driver who turned into his path. This comes on the heels of two fatalities last week. If you know someone who rides a motorcycle, you might have had the experiencing of reading the breaking news about one of these accidents – where the rider is not yet identified – and worrying if it’s your loved one.

One morning last week, I clicked on Syracuse.com to read yet another report about an unidentified cyclist who didn’t survive such a crash. I got a nervous call from my mom about it. I reassured her that there was no way my father would be on Route 11 in Hastings at 7 in the morning. After I hung up I suddenly had terrible second thoughts. I remembered that he had been anxious to take his bike in for an inspection. Maybe his inspection shop was in Central Square…? Coming from Mexico, where he lives, he would have to take Route 11. Maybe he wanted to get an early start…? Feeling silly I called his phone. It went straight to voice mail. And kept going there. Was his phone just being recharged, or…?

Well, after a horrible half hour of this he finally left a message on my phone (yes, his was being recharged). Unfortunately, some other guy’s family got terrible news that day.

My dad is 70 and has been riding since he was a teenager. He still rides several times a week and considers his Kawasaki Ninja to be his primary form of transportation. He went out to Seattle on this bike a few years ago and recently rode it back from Florida. Obviously, you don’t live to be 70 after decades of riding if you don’t strive to be a safe and sensible rider. Despite the bad reputation of a relatively few bikers (speeding, popping wheelies, antagonizing cops and the like), there are many more guys (and gals) who are just trying to get around efficiently. Why some people believe that motorcycle riders are second-class citizens is beyond me. The average motorcycle rider is very likely a safer and more serious driver than your average car driver.

Despite this, my dad is pretty fatalistic and he believes that if he is going to die while riding, it will happen exactly as it happened earlier this week to the two unfortunate riders who were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Someone will turn in front of him. If chance is involved, after decades of riding the odds of it finally happening to him are getting bigger too. You can have the best safety gear, be completely alert and have a flashing neon bike the size of a Gold Wing on steroids, but there is not much you can do when an SUV driver decides to pull out in front of you. The sad part is that nobody wakes up in the morning and says “I’d like to kill a motorcyclist today.” They just don’t take that extra 2 seconds to make sure there isn’t one there. (Do any of us?)

I am not a bumpersticker kind of person but I am now making an exception. If even one person sees the message while stopped behind me at a red light, and remembers to take those extra 2 seconds, someone’s life might be saved.

3 Replies to “Dying to be seen”

  1. not trying to whale on a horse i probably whale on all too often, but it seems to me the dangers for bikers particularly escalate in this age of cell phones and texting. a car can get away with scratched paint when some knucklehead abruptly veers between lanes while tapping at his phone. to a motorcyclist, the consequences are on a different plane. why there is no prevalent sense of community alarm about this stuff, i don’t know.

    sean

  2. Bicycles and motorcycles are enjoyable but dangerous on roads with large heavy vehicles. Then again, motorcycles can be dangerous on country back roads with no other vehicles. How many times have you seen a newspaper clip about a motorcycle going off the road and the driver is killed? Was the driver avoiding a deer, or was he/she distracted or impaired?

    Sometimes a knucklehead can not be blamed.

    I keep wishing to see less motorcycles but instead they are more popular than ever. Looks like the rewards outweigh the risks for the riders.

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