Monday, June 21, 2010

Watch Out, Out There

Recently, I had a couple of scary events while riding or driving that have caused me to ponder a bit about rider safety "out there" on the road. First: I was riding home on the scooter. It's about 10:00 pm. It's a 4 lane street and going the opposite direction from me was a motorcycle and a car almost side by side with each other. The motorcycle was in the curb lane. No big deal, really, but suddenly I hear the motorcycle engine roar and the rider does a wheelie for about 20 yards or so. Almost right in front of me. Startled the crap out of me. Didn't expect that at all on a somewhat lazy ride home at night with seemingly little traffic. We passed by each other and nothing bad happened except for a little jolt of surprise on my part. But as I rode on I wondered a bit about what might have happened if the other rider had screwed up the wheelie and maybe caused the car to swerve, possibly into my lane. How would I have reacted? I was being alert, but this was so totally unexpected. Made me think. . Hmmmmm. Second: The next afternoon I am driving the famous Canadian Subaru. We were on a two lane highway and we were executing a somewhat lazy left curve at about 55 mph. There was a car on my right, stopped at a driveway, waiting to make an entrance to the highway. I saw it early on and sort of kept an eye on it. There had been some traffic coming from the opposite direction. Unbelievably, the car pulled out on to the highway right in front of me making a left turn onto the highway. Thank God for a good car with anti lock brakes. I actually had to swerve to the right and drive off the road a bit, onto some grass and across the driveway. I ended up driving behind the car that had pulled in front of me. I don't think I could have stopped completely in time, but was able to successfully make the maneuver around the car and avoid an accident. I saw the face of an elderly looking lady very briefly as we passed by each other. There was some fear in her eyes as she was realizing that I could have easily plowed right into the driver's side door. But no accident. Just a fairly close call. As we drove on, I thought about my reaction. I thought I had done well in avoiding a potentially serious accident. I then considered what might have happened had I been on the scooter instead of in the car. The scooter does not have anti lock brakes. I was real glad I had them that afternoon. And the scooter brakes are decent, but not as good as the brakes on the car. I know that and try and take that into account as I am riding. Then I also thought about the maneuver I made and how different it would have been with the scooter. The grass could have been much more of a potential problem for the scooter. I wondered if my reaction riding the scooter would have been as good as my reaction was in the car? I'd like to think I would have been planning ahead a bit further on the scooter and been going a bit slower in the situation. You know, SIPDE. Also. I'd like to think that I would have handled the braking differently knowing to avoid allowing the brakes to lock (particularly the front) and potentially causing a skid. But again, this entire scenario was so surprising and unexpected. Hmmmmm. Third: That night on the news there was a report of a traffic accident near town where 2 people died and a motorcyclist was severely injured. The accident apparently involved a car crossing over the median on a separated roadway and striking another vehicle on the other side. A mother and her 10 year old son were pronounced dead at the scene. It sounds like the motorcyclist avoided the collision, but apparently laid the bike down in his effort to avoid the incident. A car suddenly crossing a median on a separated roadway is not something that I would normally even remotely anticipate. Let's hope the motorcyclist gets better soon. Let's also hope all our riding stays serene, ordinary, with little traffic and courteous drivers. But can you ever predict everything? Particularly when another driver does something really unusual and totally unexpected? Hmmmmm


  1. "Let's also hope all our riding stays serene, ordinary, with little traffic and courteous drivers." Amen! to this. And, I'd add conscientious riders, alert pedestrians, and bicyclists who follow the rules of the road.

  2. Keith,
    Thanks for the visit. It was just a very strange 24 hour period. And you followed up well with further suggestions.


  3. Jim, nice post, and it made me go hmmmm...

    Yes, there is nothing anyone can do if someone does something very stupid giving us no time to react. Thankfully (and hopefully) the great majority of close calls give us time to react.

  4. Lance,
    You are very right and I'm not holding my breath about everybody else on the road always doing the right thing.
    Thanks for the comment and take care,


  5. Dear CPA3485 (Jimbo):

    I'm sure the sweet, little old lady who pulled out in front of you was wondering if she was going to get pulled out of the car and beaten to death at the next traffic light.

    While we cannot help wondering "what could have happened," that fact that it didn't is what enables us to ride day after day.

    Fondest regards,
    Jack • reep • Toad
    Twisted Roads

  6. Conscientious riders, alert pedestrians, and bicyclists who all follow the rules of the road? Utopia, as I understand it, doesn't exist.

    Glad you came through that 24 hours unscathed!

    As Irondad continually reminds us with great insight and wisdom, we all need to be Boy Scouts and constantly practice that "Be Prepared" creed!

  7. Jack,
    That little old lady already had the fear of God in her eyes. Beating her up would not have helped the situation much, but it did cross my mind.
    And you are right, we do continue to ride day after day in spite of some of the crap that happens out there.


  8. Chuck,
    You are not the first to mention bicyclists. As a former avid bicyclist, and not planning to return to it, I do see what you mean. There is a movement afoot here in town to outlaw bicycles on some streets. Not sure it is necessary at all and a lot of bicyclists are pretty mad. We may have a two wheeled human powered revolt soon.
    Thanks for stopping by,

  9. Jim:

    I was nearly "taken out" last Monday. I was in the straight through right lane. Most people in the left lane are turning left, but it was not a dedicated left turn lane.

    I was following a Van and we were moving very slowly. I was about a car length behind the van and suddenly the mini-van in the left lane decides to do a quick slalom into me, and saw me at the last moment. Missed by mere inches.

    you have to be careful out there

    Wet Coast Scootin