Friday, October 19, 2012

Being More Visible – It’s Not Just About Bright Colored Clothing, Anymore.

Axiom of the Road: If Motorcyclists receive no respect at all - Road Cyclists receive even less.

It used to be sufficient to insure one’s personal safety merely by sticking to the correct side of the road and obeying the traffic laws.  As any person whom has ridden either a bicycle or motorcycle can attest to, the days of courteous drivers has flown the way of the Do-Do Bird.  Sadly, even bright clothing and defensive riding are not enough to insure you will cycle another day. 

Basically, we are all at the mercy of the lowest common denominator behind a steering wheel. 

So, just how (and why) am I tying motorcycles and bicycles together?  Well, staying alive on both are quite similar endeavors, actually.  I used to ride a motorcycle almost exclusively since I was sixteen-years old.  While a senior in High School, armed with money from my part-time job, I went to a local Honda dealer and plunked down $526.00 in cash, and I taught myself how to shift a five-speed transmission on the way home aboard a brand new, 1982 MB5 motorcycle.  I went everywhere on that bike, and I did not get my first car until I was twenty-three years old.  I swore I would ride a motorcycle until the day I died. 

Road cycling has changed all that.  And, this is not as tragic as it may sound.  See, I still love motorcycles (the MB5 long gone, successively replaced by another Honda, a Suzuki, still another Honda, and now a Ducati), however, every turn of the wheels gave me no physical fitness benefit.  Also, the operational costs were getting to be a bit much, and that was not including the proper protective clothing expenses. 

The complete lack of skills exhibited by vehicular drivers, countered by the euphoric fitness I get from my road bike, was enough to get me to park the motorcycle for good.   Yes, bicycles can be dangerous too, but I would rather fall over at 25 miles per hour than get run over by a vehicle doing 75 MPH on the freeway while on the motorcycle.

          Violated Right-Of-Way. This, Sadly, Has Become An All-Too-Common Experience For Road Cyclists.

Additionally, after recently, nearly becoming a hood ornament after a driver turned left in front of me, I have now resorted to full lighting (headlight and taillight) even during the day in an attempt to give myself as much of an edge as possible.  I already wear bright red colored riding kits, and the lights were just a logical addition to my “Be-Seen” regimen.  As with my former motorcycle riding days, I try to be as visible as possible, and I still trust absolutely no one.  Never! 

I now ride my road bike at least three days a week (and sometime five), and I find the skill level of the vehicle-set to be horribly lacking even more-so now than when I began riding a motorcycle in High School.  People used to ask me how I could ride a motorcycle and not get hit by motorists.  It was simple, I told them.  I rode like I was invisible, because if people will not see a tanker truck barreling towards them, they definitely will not see a motorcyclist. 

Translate this into cycling, and you see how this all works.

Be safe out there.

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