Before I start I will say I am an avid rider and have been for years so it’s possible this collection of thoughts are biased. I’ll answer the question up front. Is riding a motorcycle dangerous? The answer is yes, but, if you ride you already knew that.
To prepare for this little narrative I did a considerable amount of research to determine the number and type of accidents and the cumulative nature of sustained injuries. Oddly enough each report I read contradicted the one before so, lucky for you, this chronicle will contain very few statistical facts, but will contain real data based on my years of riding experience.
There are a number of variables that make riding dangerous. The environment, road conditions, wildlife, other occupants on the highways, rider attitude and the attitude and driving habits of cagers to name a few. An occurrence that will not blip on the radar screen of a cager will get the full attention of a rider. For the benefit of all, a “cager” is any person in a car or truck; pretty much anything that is not a motorcycle—the car is your cage.
From a rider’s perspective the biggest danger is the distracted cager. You can dispute that if you like but the fact remains, from our perspective cagers are the most looming hazard to our riding experience. If a rider wizzes by you on the street it is not because they want to go faster or show off, well, maybe for some, but for most of us it is because we want to get out of your blind spot; what we refer to as “the kill zone.” We want to be as far away from you as possible because we know, right after you hit us, the first words out of your mouth will be, “But officer, I didn’t see’em!”
Most cagers, who is not a rider, will look around as they drive and acknowledge other cagers. Their brain is not geared to register a motorcycle; even if they look straight at it. I’ve seen it time and time again. I’ve had cagers look right at me, or at least in my direction, and pull right out in front of me. They looked, but they did not see. I cannot count the number of times a cager has pulled into my lane when I am right beside their window and surely within their peripheral vision. They looked but they did not see. I cannot count the number of times a cager in opposing traffic has turned left in front me. They looked but they did not see. You will drive and not notice other cagers talking/texting on the phone. When I ride I know who is talking on the phone and they get my attention real fast because I know they have no concept of the danger they are inflicting on those around them. It’s not your fault, you’re cagers and you can’t help it. Well, actually you can. You all know someone who rides whether it be a family member, friend or co-worker. From this fact alone you should be able to surmise that, while in your cage, your family member, friend or co-worker is out there riding the same streets so take an extra second to really look, focus not only on other cagers but on motorcycles too.
Yes, there are reckless riders out there, but there are reckless cagers too. The bad attitude that plagues some riders is the same attitude held by some cagers. We are often our worst enemy. But, it does not have to be that way. Here’s a little game that will help us all.
While driving, count the number of motorcycles you see and give yourself points for each one. For every ten points you get, treat yourself to something you would otherwise deny yourself—like one of your favorite cookies. When you reach 100 points then buy yourself that new thing you have been eyeing for weeks—or eat a whole box of cookies. Do this for a week or two and your brain will be attune to motorcycles and you will never find yourself in a position to say, “But Officer, I didn’t see’em!” The one you “don’t see” just before you hit them may be a family member, a friend or a co-worker. The alternative is not something you will want to live with.