A letter written by Carter Edman titled An open letter to every person I meet who finds out I ride a motorcycle is a great read and I suggest that everyone, especially NON-motorcycle riders read it!
Having only been riding for a few short months I, too, have been the recipient of the dissatisfied looks, the ‘be safe’ or ‘make sure you’re wearing a helmet’ comments, the ‘that’s dangerous’ comments, the disapproving statements from family and friends, and all of the stories of what happened to his / her uncle / friend / aunt / nephew / etc. and about how they were hurt or killed while riding. That was them, not me. My circumstances are different. I am different.
I knew when purchasing my bike that it was dangerous. That’s not news to me. I also get the fact that riding isn’t for everyone. That’s okay! It wasn’t for me a few months ago, either.
What bugs me more than the disapproving looks and comments are the drivers who are truly out to harm motorcycle riders. We are legally allowed to split lanes, by the way, at least in CA. Meaning – we are allowed – by law – to ride our motorcycles in between vehicles and move past them. We are allowed – by law – to share the lane with you. And, just to let you know, I haven’t met a rider yet whose intention of splitting lanes is to cut off a motorist or get in their way. Our intention is to get as far away from vehicles as possible. To do this we go between vehicles to move up to the front of the line and get out of your way.
Two pieces of advice a rider once gave me:
1. Stay away from cars – I’m trying to do that, but it’s not as easy as it sounds.
2. Pretend like you are invisible – most motorists aren’t looking out for riders. This is one of the main reasons I don’t ride the freeways / highways – high speeds, motorists changing lanes quickly and without signaling, and the inability for motorists to see riders…
I have to say, though, I think everyone – rider or not – should take the motorcycle riding course. I’m not saying that you have to leave the class and go purchase a motorcycle. I’m saying that I think everyone should take the class to better understand motorcycles, the dangers, the benefits, and how motorist’s actions can be detrimental to riders in certain situations. I know that I have become a much better rider and motorist because of that class and my riding experience (what little I have thus far).
Have you ever changed lanes too quickly, without signaling, and then all of a sudden saw the motorcycle? Please keep your eyes open, hands off your phone, and be acutely aware of your surroundings…for your safety and mine.