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Behind the Bars: Look for Motorcycles to See Motorcycles

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By The Road Toad

Hi, folks. The first thing everyone needs to realize, whether you are on a bike or in a car, is that each of us is a father, mother, son, daughter, uncle, aunt etc. to someone else and it’s important to give that person on the bike space on the road.

It’s give and take, respect gets respect. We all share it, and we all have the exact same rights and all have the same rules of the road.

The easiest tip for “seeing” bikers more easily is to simply “look” for bikers. Realize this is bike season, so when you are out in the convertible, van, truck or other vehicle, we are out there, too. It is just like being aware that school is in session so you “look” for school buses. It’s the same thing with bikes.

It is a tendency of the human mind to disregard what it isn’t “looking” for. When you are at a stop sign or getting ready to make a left turn across traffic, most people are looking for another car or truck, something wide and large — a horizontal image. A biker is a vertical image and much smaller. As a result, it does not register as easily in your mind, so you may unwittingly turn right in front of the biker. Many police will tell you that a motorist’s most common statement after an accident is, “I did not see him.”

You need to look for motorcycles to see motorcycles!

There is another basic drawback of the vertical biker image, and it is one that predators such as “big cats” count on. It is difficult to judge the speed of something coming directly at you. Watch the Animal Planet channel sometime and watch the unsuspecting antelope as the cheetah stalks — the antelope rarely flees before the cat is almost on them. Therefore, when you are stopped in traffic and are looking for traffic — even if the motorcycle registers in your mind’s eye — it is difficult to determine how far away it is and how fast it is moving. Please err on the side of safety and allow the biker the “right of way” and save a life.

If you see bikers swerving in their lane, they are not showing off. That pothole, oil spill, or piece of debris on the road is a nuisance for you, but to somebody on two wheels it could be tragic. We are always scoping out the road for hazards, as they affect us much more than they do someone in a car. This is not an invitation for you to pass us, or an attempt to inflame you, it is simply us riding safely and alertly.

Do not tailgate another car or truck, ever, and do not tailgate a motorcycle. We stop a lot faster than you on dry pavement, and under wet and other conditions, we use our throttles and downshift to moderate our speed. By doing this, our brake lights will not come on! We may reduce speed before you realize it and we will pay the price. Stay back, please — a rear-ender on another car will likely bend metal and break plastic. But if you rear-end a biker, you will likely kill or maim this person.

Driving is not a right. It is a licensed responsibility to practice safe and moral conduct in regards to others’ safety. I have a CDL license (tractor-trailer), an operator’s license and a motorcycle license. I must respect you and everybody else on the road and follow every rule of the road and so must you.

A “biker” is another human being. We are all the same. There is no “us and them.” You may never ride a bike, but probably someone you know and love does. Drive your bike like you would if they were in traffic with you.

Please remember: “You have to look for motorcycles to see motorcycles!”

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