Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Sharing the road: the stop-n-go

I'm a rider. I ride a motorcycle. It's my "most of the time" transportation. I'm also a "cager". I drive a car. Most motorcyclists are "cagers" as well, regardless of how painful it is for some to admit that. Most of us drive, too. I like to think that most of us, the riders, have transcended the "my road" mentality and tend to share it pretty well, no matter what we're piloting at the time.

I like to think this...

Today I want to talk about sharing the road, and specifically the quick stop, or the "touch and go" or "stop and go", or whatever other name you want to give it. We've all seen this... a quick, not-quite-stop at a stop sign, or a "rolling stop" through a right-turn-on-red intersection. I see these every day, and too often, I have to be the one to change my progress because of others' carelessness.

I think I have it figured out... these quick stops fall into two categories; "prepared to stop" and "prepared to go".

I can also say that 99.99999% of the quick stops I see are of the "go" type, meaning that people approach the stop thinking they're completely right in their decision to not actually come to a complete stop. They pull up to the red light, start into the turn, shove the front of their car (and yes, their bike some times!) half way out into the intersection while they take their time looking over their shoulder to be sure that 'their' lane is clear to turn into.

I'm tired of riding down the road and suddenly there's the left side of a car in front of me, still in motion, and I need to make a decision; stop, swerve, hit, stop and pummel, etc. Seriously, why is it people don't even have the minimum of self-preservation instincts, if not the common sense and courtesy it takes to drive on the roads? Do they really want the hassle? Or me, banging on their skull with my helmet trying to make them see the error of their ways? (Ok, that last part was a joke. Mostly....)

I'm sure that many people in such a situation think that he or she is a good enough driver, has fast-enough reflexes, and their car is able to do whatever the situation requires. Guess what... you're not. I'm guessing that people think they can play the odds and roll on through the stop and other drivers will make a hole for them (most will because they don't want to get into an "accident"), will leave room or will just flat out stop. Or not even be there in the first place. Really? You really want to risk your life on what you assume others will do? Really? You've got more nerve than I do, that's for sure. I know exactly how inattentive, uncaring or flat out crazy people can be.

As someone who rides a motorcycle, and is very much at the mercy of the larger, heavier vehicles around me (and just because it's good form in a polite society!), I simply can't afford to be so cavalier with my stops. I approach every stop situation with the intention of actually stopping; the "prepared to stop" approach. Whether it's a stop sign, a red light, a tight turn into a parking lot, traffic, etc., if it looks like I may have to stop the vehicle, I prepare to do exactly that. If I can safely resume my travel after properly assessing the situation, I'll do so, and cautiously - bet your ass!

I just don't see the value of having to be the first to get out of an intersection or to blow through a light. Is everyone really in that much of a hurry that they could so easily take the chance of getting hurt, or hurting others?

I just don't get it... What am I missing?

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