We're all on the same boat anyway!
It all started with this video. This clever and funny campaign promotes motorcycle safety and reminds drivers to be aware of motorcyclists on the road. Nothing inherently wrong with that, right? As a rider, I found the message important; as a human being, I found the Ryan Reynolds references hilarious. Then, I started reading the comments users had left about the video on YouTube and Facebook and was flabbergasted. An open war of words between drivers dissing the message and blaming riders for their obnoxious behavior and motorcyclists dissing drivers in return for being killing machines. Nothing I haven’t seen before, but it prompted the question: why?
Every road user whines about the other, that’s nothing new. Drivers complain about cyclists, motorcyclists complain about drivers, everyone complains about pedestrians and pedestrians do whatever they like… We’re like a bunch of kids in kindergarten having to share toys.
However, reading drivers’ comments calling out motorcyclists and telling them that their safety is their own goddamn business and that they should be more careful makes me cringe. Dismissing the fact that drivers do represent a potential hazard for motorcyclists is like denying the Earth is spinning, and that’s an issue mainly because it removes the concept of responsibility from the equation. In a car versus motorcycle “battle”, the heavyweight wins.
Of course, I am aware that some riders act stupid, even entitled, and that some of their actions are what actually lead to their demise. There’s absolutely no denying that some riders are complete idiots and not every motorcycle crash involves a driver. Heck, I’ve had driver’s frustrations myself and have even cussed at motorcyclists I thought were making dumb decisions or taking pointless risks. There are some really bad riders out there.
Thing is, there are also really bad drivers. Just like there are really good drivers and really good riders. I can’t help but wonder how is a handful of dumb-dumbs on two wheels any worst than a handful of them on four wheels? Why are motorcyclists less deserving of acknowledgment because of a few loose cannons? Somehow, because motorcycles tend to stand out from the crowd, it seems like people associate them with bad habits and decisions. There’s no clear explanation why, but the way I see it, it likely all stems from a lack of understanding.
I strongly believe that basic motorcycle training should be part of every new driver’s training program. Not because people should be forced to ride, but because from my own personal experience, I’ve learned even more about road safety from being on a bike. Look where you want to go, keep your eyes up and look ahead, be aware of what the driver in front of you is doing, but also the drivers in front of him—this is precious advice that’s not only useful on two wheels but also on four. I don’t remember my driving instructor ever encouraging me to “look where I want to go”—I picked that up from my motorcycle lessons and it’s an incredibly useful habit to have.
I believe that riding has helped me fine-tune certain of my driving skills and that I’ve become a better driver thanks to it. From my personal experience, I find a correlation between motorcycle riding and better awareness on the road. I’m not saying that drivers who have never been on a motorcycle are bad or that everyone who's been on a bike is an impeccable driver—I just find that people who ride motorcycles consistently have good driving habits.
Putting new drivers in a saddle even just for an hour can help bring a new perspective and a better understanding of the reality of riding. It can also help drivers see beyond their own little bubble, get over the whole “they’re allowed to do things we’re not” discussion and understand that some of these maneuvers help increase safety.?
Ultimately, we’re all stuck on the same boat: we all have to share the road whether we like it or not. If motorcycles circulating between rows of cars is safer, what’s so wrong about it? On the other hand, riders aren’t entitled to anything—riding is a privilege, not a right. So how about we all look out for each other instead of going about this whole thing with an “every man for himself” mentality?
Drivers, riders aren’t trying to piss you off. They’re just trying to get where they need alive. Riders, car drivers aren’t out to kill you. They’re just trying to get where they need alive.
See any resemblance?