Saturday, September 26, 2015

The invisible man

It's how we feel when we ride sometimes. It doesn't really make any sense either. We're bigger than bicycles, but people seem to see them most of the time. We're louder than pedestrians, but still, they don't seem to get hit nearly as often as we do. What gives?

The normal response is: "I didn't see the motorcycle."

That's right folks, we're invisible. This past May, I was on a ride with seven others. The lead bike was a cherry red Goldwing, and all the other bikes but mine were big and loud. Even so, a lady in a Volvo pulled out right in front of the group. I'm sure, had she hit us, the response would have been the same tired answer...but the truth is, she didn't look. I watched her as we neared the corner. She never looked left and just pulled out across traffic. Thankfully, we were all able to stop since we were slowing to take a corner, but it was close.

The only thing I can figure to do is to make them look. I try to be so visible that there is no way the "I didn't see him" excuse can hold any water. We've just crossed the threshold into autumn, so warmer clothing is coming out. This means that many will see me wearing my blaze orange coverall. It cost 29.99 at Cabela's a few years back and may be the single best $30 scootering item I've ever bought. Yes, I do use it for hunting as well, so I'm really getting my money's worth out of it. I've noticed that people do seem to look twice when I'm wearing it. I've only had one person pull out in front of me while wearing this suit.

On warmer days, I have a vest, but it doesn't seem to grab the eyes as much as full body orange. It's cooler, which is nice, but I've still had plenty of close calls while wearing it, so it really doesn't seem to help all that much.

Then there's the helmet. Mohawks, horns, crazy helmets, and helmet covers seem to be eye catching. Rowlf certainly gets plenty of attention and Maggie seems to enjoy having another dog to ride with. It's funny to watch as people who were not at all tuned in go from a look of boredom, to recognition, to grinning. While traveling north on I-84 in New York, I chuckled as a mini-van pulled alongside then ahead, then fell back, then passed me completely, all while the passenger filmed the spectacle of a muppet on a motorscooter. Hey, they saw me. That's something at least.

It's a bit of a trade-off though. One afternoon, on my way to work, I arrived at a four way stop. The woman crossing the intersection in front of me was so intent upon waving, she nearly hit the stop sign to my right. At least she didn't hit me. That's a win right there.

It's not foolproof since there will always be people who just aren't tuned in while driving, but there are certainly ways we can try to catch their attention.


kz1000st said...

My best defense where cars are concerned is not to watch people's eyes, I watch their wheels. If I see a tire even spin slightly, I'm on the brakes. I figure it's better to slow down and be wrong than to not slow down and become a statistic.

Robert Wilson said...

I'm with Kz1000st. I am watching the wheels more then the eyes and I give them as much berth as I can.

Octoberstudios said...

I agree too. To add to that when I pass a vehicle coming the other way down the street I look for any potential turning areas for them to use - driveways, parking lot entrances, streets, etc. ... That they will left turn into and into my path. If I calculate that we will pass one another at such a spot my thumb covers my horn, fingers over my brakes while my eyes scan their wheels, but not long enough to fixate.

I tend to do the same if people are ready to pull into my road regardless of what side they are on. It's also a cell phone world. People use them even if it's against the law. Even hands free can be a distraction.