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Unwritten and Seemingly Unknown Rules for Motorcyclists

July 23, 2015

Because we live in a goddamn society and so many of you are assholes and can’t figure this shit out on your own I need to spell it out for you.

These rules are not necessarily for helping motorcyclists become better riders per se.  They are rules for help motorcyclists better interact with other users of the roads who are not on motorcycles.

Once again, stating my credentials: “I am the Czar of Transportation.  I alone possess the intellect and the wherewithal to instruct the masses on the correct utilization of all common forms of transit such that proper coordination will be achieved in an increasingly complex American society and infrastructure.”

On to the rules.

1)  You are not entitled to the space between the lanes.

See those dashed white lines in between the two lanes of slow-moving or stopped cars?  Those dashed lines are dividing the lanes, they are not a magical third lane designed only for motorcycles.  If the space between the lanes is open, please, feel free to filter (or “split lanes”) up to the front.  Even give your engine a small rev (emphasis on small) or your horn a small tap to let cars know you’re there.  But you are not entitled to that space.  Do not give me that annoyed rev or that loud horn when I’m too close to the car in the neighboring lane.  Do not squeeze through a space so small that we bump mirrors.  Chill the fuck out and wait for the light to change or traffic to move.  I didn’t force you to wear leathers in the blazing sun.  You elected to sit on a bike instead of inside an air conditioned “cage.”  That space is as much mine as it is yours.  Idiot.

2)  Loud pipes do not save lives.

Hey morons, if you want cars to hear you, buy a new horn.  The statistically largest and most dangerous accident risk for a motorcycle is a car moving into its path.  How exactly does a loud pipe, which projects sound out the back, help warn the car?  More importantly, to fully take advantage of a loud pipe, you need to rev your engine, which means pulling the clutch in, which means losing a GREAT DEAL OF YOUR STOPPING POWER.  For those of you keeping score at home, that’s the last thing you want to do when a car is about to move into your path and you’re moving quickly.  I’ll admit, a loud pipe helps cars be aware of you when you’re splitting lanes.  But so does an occasional tap on the horn and… see Rule 2a.

2a)  Loud pipes are for assholes.

I don’t think this one needs more explanation other than to say that I’m pretty sure 75% of the hatred non-motorcyclists have for motorcyclists is due to excessively loud exhausts.  Christ almighty, people, we live in a society.  One where people sleep at night, talk to each on the street, listen to music, and do a shitton of other stuff that makes it nice to not have a single person ride by with a machine that says, “Fuck all of you, look at me, I’m more important than everyone.”  I’m as anti-nanny-state as the next doomsday prepper but I would vote for Khrushchev if he promised to pass noise ordinances for the goddamn idiots with loud pipes.  And yes, I’m mostly looking at you, redneck Harleys and Mexican crotch rockets.  (Also, try wearing an actual jacket with that gloves-helmet-tank top combo you got there.)

3)  If someone boxes you in, that’s called “tough shit.”

If you’re ever seen Finding Forrester (God, did I really just reference that?)there’s a line where Sean Connery tells Rob Brown, “You’re the man now, dawg.”

(No, that wasn’t it.)

It was the part where Rob Brown’s teacher is forcing Rob to write an apology letter after Rob Brown embarrasses him.  Connery advises Rob to write the letter, telling Rob Brown, “You got him, he got you.”

The point is this: Sometimes the road gets a little competitive.  Sometimes you “lose.”  Just relax and enjoy it.  Tip the hat and move on.  Don’t flip your gasket and chase the guy down and escalate the situation.  Just be the more mature one.

Here’s an example:  While driving my car, I moved into the left lane of a 2-lane on-ramp to pass a line of slow moving cars.  While doing my little end-around, one of the drivers in the right lane decided that he didn’t approve of my maneuver.  So when the two lanes merged after the metering traffic light, even though we stacked in such a way that I really had right of way, he tailed the car in front of him so closely that I was forced in behind him.  It really came down to who blinked first and I guess he had bigger balls.  Now for a brief second I had a flash of rage and moved to downshift and use the shoulder to pass him.  Instead, I smiled, mentally tipped my hat to him and drove on.

What does it matter?  Someone was a dick, big deal.  He punked you.  He “won” this round.  Tip your hat and get him next time.

People like to bully motorcycles because they’re irritating.  They resent us because we skip lines and live by our own rules.  When they get the chance to stick it to us, they’re going to do it.  Just let them.  We’re all going to be better off in the long run.

4)  No one is trying to kill you.

I’ve seen all the YouTube GoPro videos.  I’ve read all the forum stories and seen all the blogs.  I’ve seen all the road rage stories on the 11 o’clock news.  But trust me, no one is actually trying to kill you.  So just cool your jets.  Way too many riders get cut off and then go ballistic.  It’s happened to me as the driver and I’m well above average when it comes to cars.  Do you guys realize how small you are in a driver’s field of vision?  Do you realize how quickly you come up?  Do you realize how the driver’s brain is programmed to look for large objects going a particular speed and that many motorcyclists ride their bikes 10-15 mph faster than that?  They literally cannot see you.  The average driver is not a sociopathic murderer.  A Prius (the car I hate the most) almost nailed me on my way to work the other day.  He switched lanes without signaling, checking his mirrors (or maybe he did), or even drifting in his lane slightly before doing it, all while I was next to his rear wheel splitting lanes.  I braked hard, swerved slightly (back end fishtailed a little), and went on my way.  I didn’t chase him down to scream at him.

5)  If you get into a wreck, it’s your fault.

I saved this till last and I probably shouldn’t have because it’s the most important.  While it applies to everyone, it applies to bicyclists, motorcyclists, and pedestrians much more than to drivers.

You took the risk getting on your bike.  You took the risk wearing whatever gear you have on.  You took the risk choosing what road to ride and how fast to go.  You chose what style to ride with and what lane to be in.  You put yourself in the situation.

I don’t care if she pulled out in front of you.  I don’t care if he didn’t signal.  There was always something you could have done.  Why didn’t you do it?  There was always some steps you could have taken well ahead of time to avoid being in the situation in the first place.  Always be thinking.  That’s how you stay safe.

Well, that’s all I got.  The vitriol and the humor wore off as the post went on.  But it got better as it went on, right?  OK, maybe not.  But the words are true.  Once Obama makes my Czarship an official position these will be a law so you might as well get a head start and memorize them now.

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