MOTORCYCLES - Using the Road in Harmony
There seems to be something wrong with car and truck drivers, something that resides deep down in their souls and forces them to make things more dangerous for motorcycles. Everyone that rides a motorcycle knows it, but I don't think that too many four wheel warriors are even remotely aware of their deep seated flaws.
Perhaps it stems from bitterness of not knowing how truly awesome motorcycles are and a life condemned to the inside of a cage, but whatever the cause, car drivers seem to take out their issues on motorcyclists, often without even knowing that they are doing anything wrong at all.
Aside from the obvious transgressions of turning in front of a motorcycle, and changing lanes into a space occupied by a motorcycle, there is the constant tailgating of motorcycles. The last one is something that seems to just be a given. Cars tailgate bikes, and that's all there is to it. It doesn't seem to matter how fast the bike is going, there will always be a car too close behind it.
I'm not sure what possesses someone who wants to go faster to get right in behind someone on a smaller vehicle and stay there instead of passing them. Maybe car drivers believe that they have a god given right to be in the exact spot that the motorcycle is in. Maybe they just don't want to seem like jerks by passing us, maybe they just think it's fun to tailgate.
Whatever the cause, this is a major problem, particularly at night. The average car driver clearly doesn't have any idea what sort of danger they are putting us in by following us at night.
The biggest problem that stems from being tailgated at night, aside from obvious potential for being rear-ended is the fact that the cars lights tend to shine right into the motorcyclists eyes via the mirrors, which greatly affects our ability to see. Car drivers have the luxury of being able to adjust their mirrors on the fly when lights start shining in their eyes, and I'm sure most of them don't understand that we don't have that option (as if anyone ever even gives that kind of consideration to others on the road).
I don't tend to trust what I can't see, and when there is a car blinding me through my mirrors, I have to slow down dramatically to avoid out-riding my vision. This of course doesn't work in the best interest of the car behind me, as they clearly ended up behind me because they wanted to go faster than me in the first place.
All I ever want when riding at night is for there to be no one behind me and to actually have a car a little ways in front of me. Just like how cars behind you have the ability to take away your vision, a car out front can provide a huge boost to your line of sight.
For me, the best place to be at night is where my lights just catch the back end of a car in front of me, with no one close enough behind me to cause me any grief. I love being able to use someone else's headlights to see farther down the road and into the ditches than my lights will illuminate. There's also the added bonus of having something in front of you to help filter out some of the brightness of the oncoming traffics headlights.
Cars and motorcycles can live together in harmony on the roads, but it takes a little extra understanding and consideration from everyone.
This article was contributed by Jeremy of Vancouver Island Motorcycle School