In a Rush |Slow Down Your Life May Depend on it

George_Tranos_Outside_EdgeIn a rush

by George Tranos

We lead busy lives and many of us seem to be in a rush all the time. With so much to do and so many demands, we seem to run from place to place more often than not. We live in a world of high expectations. Everyone seemingly has a “bucket list” of things to do. We tend to drive or ride like we live. If we’re constantly hurrying, we may become frustrated with anything that slows us down. This can lead to poor judgment and bad decisions.

There are myriad videos on the Internet that illustrate this point. In one that I watched recently, a rider was impatient and riding too close to the back of a car. He moved to the right to pass just as the car also  changed lanes in the same direction without signaling. They were going over a small elevated section of roadway at the time and consequently there was no shoulder, just a short two foot stone wall on the right. The motorcycle was accelerating to pass and didn’t see the car move to the right until it was too late. The rider hit the right quarter panel of the car and crashed into it, throwing him into and over the wall. His bike was smashed and he was lucky to be alive, landing on a rooftop after falling 20 feet over the edge. He broke both his legs but lived to tell the tale. A combination and interaction of factors caused this to happen. All of this could have been prevented if any one factor had been removed from the equation. Was this crash the car driver’s fault for not seeing the motorcycle? Was it the rider’s fault for not providing enough time and space to pass at the appropriate spot?

Certainly, if you are in a rush and always want to go as fast as possible on the street, you may not be leaving yourself enough following distance and safety margin. It’s also likely that your enjoyment may be diminished as you will constantly see obstacles in your path that are impediments to your goal of riding quickly. In this area of the country, we are cursed with traffic especially during morning and evening rush hours. It’s hard to get anywhere fast during those times. Summer weekend getaways also add to the congestion. I don’t know about you, but I ride to escape from the traffic and to enjoy being outdoors on a nice day. I try to ride when traffic is lightest and factor in more time if I know I’ll be riding in it.

Some of the worst bone-headed moves I have seen have come from riders who do stupid things because of traffic. Regardless of your feelings about lane splitting, doing it at 100 miles-per-hour and weaving in and out of traffic is just plain dumb. I’ve seen some people do this in packs of bikes and they scare the heck out of people. One time while we were on a group ride going with traffic on a multi-lane highway, a pack of sportbikes passed us on the shoulder doing well over 100. Not only was their speed and impatience reckless, but the shoulder had a lot of debris that could have also caused one of them to crash. This would have also been tragic for the other vehicles they would have taken out had it happened.

Recently, a fellow riding acquaintance got a speeding ticket for being impatient. He was frustrated riding behind a slow car on an on-ramp and once clear of the car, he accelerated hard to pass, easily exceeding the speed limit. Unfortunately for him, a cop was waiting right after the entrance and he got pulled over. His short-lived moment of exhilaration was caught short by his lack of patience and judgment.

It’s easy to blame other drivers for our frustrations. “If only the drivers would stay to the right and not impede my path,” may be true but doesn’t help. It’s far easier to try to change your own mindset and riding behavior. The street is not a racetrack. The track is a great place to go if you want to ride fast without cars in front of you slowing you down. Collectively, we must tone down our behavior to an acceptable level if we want to survive and more importantly enjoy riding a motorcycle. Patience may be a virtue but it is also a tool that you should try to have in your rider safety arsenal. Think about where you pick and choose to exploit the performance advantage that a motorcycle gives you. More importantly, think about when it’s more to your benefit to be patient and not be in so much of a rush.

Your life may depend on it.

Leave a Reply