A Motorcyclist's Addition to: Motorcyclists: Please Stop Being Sanctimonious Assholes
There’s an article going around authored by Damon Lavernic in Lanesplitter asking Motorcyclists to stop being sanctimonious assholes. I happen to agree with almost every word of his article, but there are some points that need to be added. Here are my two cents...
I ride, commute and split lanes every day in perhaps the most offensive “use your phone while driving city:” Los Angeles.
For the most part, I don't care when someone comes to a complete stop to check their phone.They are not in motion, and there is little likelihood they will perform a maneuver at the moment. I know we all get frustrated from time to time and MANY of you—like Samuel Ayers who wanted to voice off and tell drivers what to do.
Oscar Wilde once said, "If you want to tell someone the truth, make them laugh otherwise they will kill you."
Unfortunately and sadly for Samuel Ayers, he said what he said quite aggressively and that brought upon the absolute worst and inexcusable kind of recourse. He surely was not expecting it and that driver is hands down one of the worst people in the world. I sincerely hope the authorities find the assailant who knocked him off his bike, and I also hope the community helps him with his injuries.
In my own riding experience, I have ALWAYS been keenly aware of vehicles in motion and when I see egregious behavior (mainly veering into another lane), I lay on my horn for a good moment. This immediately focuses a drivers attention away from their phone and back to the road.
Do not…I repeat DO NOT, pull in your clutch and rev past drivers. There are two good reasons for this: First, drivers do not associate the sound of your revving engine with a warning, and second, you're no longer in control of your motorcycle. Don’t be (and stop being) that guy/girl. One of the first mods I made to my bike when I got it was a loud ass horn. I’ll lay on that bad boy daily when I think a driver is driving like a fool. It’s remarkably effective tool not many seem to use. Seriously. It’s great.
If you are going to say something, any of the following words are just going to ALWAYS exacerbate the problem: Douchebag, asshole, motherfucker, bitch, etc… You're asking for trouble.
This brings me to the point all motorcyclists need to abide. If you're going to say something, you have to do it kindly. You have to be the better person…the bigger person. You already know that you are correct in your criticism. You know that the person in the car knows they are breaking the law and that their actions are unsafe.
You cannot be a dickhead about saying what you want to say. You just cannot.
I've encountered a number of people that I've had words with and most (9 out of 10) have complied with my view because I have done it kindly. Afterward, I allowed them to drive off and I put distance between us both. I'm always thinking about my safety as a motorcyclist and most importantly, I do it with the calm of a buddhist monk.
I had an encounter with a driver here in Los Angeles just prior to leaving to work for Triumph in Atlanta. After leaving my office in Century City, there was a guy in a very nice two door Mercedes flying down Olympic Blvd. He was all over the place veering into other lanes. At first, I thought it’s a bit early in the day to be that drunk. Second thought was he had to be on his phone. Traffic was beginning to get a bit more congested and he almost rear ended someone. While he was stopped, I pulled up next to him and knocked on his window. I was greeted to a, “What the fuck do you want?”
Did I beget rudeness with rudeness. No. I said to him, “Look man…I’ve been watching you drive for the last couple blocks, you’re all over the place. You’re going to wreck your sweet ride, hurt someone else, or the worst case, kill someone like me on a motorcycle. It’s not worth it dude.”
He took what I said to heart and recognized his error. Did I forever change his actions…probably not, but maybe. He will remember me as being a kind motorcyclist, and that is one step closer to changing the very real and negative image problem we motorcyclists have been tagged with in our society.
Now sure, this could have gone the opposite way and he could have told me to “fuck off and mind my own business,” which is exactly what happened on another occasion with another driver.
My response to this guy was “Ok man…be on your merry way. I'm going to just sit back here and watch you continue to drive horribly. I won’t be your next victim.” The guy drove off.
You cannot change the mind of everyone and I accept that, but I'll always try…with kindness.
Serendipitously, three blocks down the road, I saw a LAPD car on the side of the road. I pulled up next to the driver’s side and told the cop that the driver ahead was driving erratically and using his cell phone while the car was in motion. The cop followed the guy and caught him in the act of using his phone. Ah yes, the sweet taste of justice and revenge.
What have we learned today? We as motorcyclist’s and we owe it to our community to look out for ourselves and others. We owe it more to society to not be utter asshats. As a whole, maybe we can start promoting a “killing them with kindness” campaign and begin uploading those videos to YouTube instead of seeing our fellow motorcyclists becoming victims to irrational angry drivers.
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