Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Harm's Way, Tragedy Through Stupidity

"Tractor Trailer Plows Into Parked Bikes Along NC Interstate!"

Those were the headlines a few weeks ago.  Apparently a tractor trailer swerved off the road after the driver fell asleep and ran into six motorcycles parked on the side of I-85 in North Carolina.  Two motorcyclists would end up dead, four injured and the truck driver arrested and charged with felony hit and run and two counts of misdemeanor death by vehicle.  Some reports stated that the only reason the truck driver stopped later was because he had a flat tire.

My initial response was anger, even hatred towards the truck driver.  After all, the piece of shit had killed two motorcyclists out of carelessness and kept going.  Open and shut case of right and wrong.  No need for further thought, although something kept troubling me.  Some bit of a thought remained like a piece of food stuck in the teeth, but my brain was assigned to pressing tasks and soon moved on to other things.

Until last Sunday morning.  As I was returning from one of my ritual Sunday morning dirt bike rides (which have mostly supplanted my street bike rides), bike safely stowed in the back of the van, I made my way down the on-ramp off of 195 to merge on I-95 Northbound.

The on-ramp starts as two lanes, then merges, to the right, to one lane before depositing you into the speeding traffic of 95N.  As I headed down the ramp, which is at least a 1/2 mile long downhill run with vehicle speeds from 50-70 mph, the traffic, fairly heavy for a Sunday morning, all began to swerve, LEFT.  'What the hell?", I thought and suddenly the reason for this maneuvering came into view.  Fifteen motorcycles and at least twenty riders and passengers were stopped on the side of the on-ramp.  Some were seated on their machines, others were leaning on the guardrail, one woman, dressed in tank top and shorts, was walking from one bike to the other on the traffic side of the breakdown lane.  I saw lots of "beanie" helmets, bare arms and even some bare legs.  There appeared to be no emergency, no mechanical issue, no pressing reason for the coffee break.

Then it struck me, that nagging feeling I'd had since hearing about the accident in North Carolina.  Why in hell were all these motorcyclists putting themselves in harm's way to begin with?  I have seen it many times, these cavalcades of chrome festooned land-yachts parked precariously on the sides of interstates, traffic whizzing by at 80mph while weekend warriors smoke cigarettes and shoot the shit.

Can these riders not see the utter folly in such an act?  Motorcycles, bar none, are the MOST vulnerable vehicles on the highway.  Even an Amish buggy offers more protection.  The only advantages we have over the 4-wheeled cruise missiles programmed to seek and destroy are the abilities to out-accelerate, out-brake and out-maneuver them, but these require skill and training to make full use of.  We live in a country with hordes of sleepy, self-absorbed, drugged, angry, aggressive, texting, make-up applying, earbud wearing incompetent fucktards behind the wheel.  A motorcycle is just another target for these poorly piloted projectiles.  At the very least we should be moving targets.

Nothing short of a life-threatening scenario will bring me to the side of one of our nation's highways, whether on two wheels or four, the risks are simply too high.  I don't know why the motorcyclists in North Carolina were on the side of the highway, and while I would never try to lay blame on them for this tragedy, I do know for certain, however, had they not been there when that idiot fell asleep, two more motorcyclists would still be alive.

Horrible tragedy.  All the more so because it was preventable.

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