Tougher than Thou: Guilt versus Wheelchair (Part 1)

Even if it pains me, I see myself forced to start this trilogy with a cliche: motorcycling is dangerous. This is the bottom line below the bottom line, if you see my point in entitling this write-up "Guilt versus Wheelchair." In the end, riding a motorcycle the right way is not inherently dangerous, or at least not as dangerous as some believe it to be.
A person in a wheelchair contemplating the sunset 1 photo
Higher risks come from the lack of protective structures around the rider and the fact that a bike won't remain upright in the absence of an external factor, such as the rider supporting it or actually operating it.

Smaller factors, but with an equally important role in bike safety include the riding habits, rider training and street behavior, atmospheric conditions, and the likes.

Still, getting a sane, trained individual on a motorcycle in good running condition is impossible to be linked to a bike crash. There is no causality between these two things, and the world would be a better place if people understood AND PRACTICED such knowledge.

Knowing who is to blame is often far from being enough

The main goal of this three-piece story is, if possible, to raise awareness among those riders who strongly believe that they are entitled to more... stuff. That is more attention from other road users, more room for maneuvers, higher speed limits, and so on.

I guess I am not mistaken when I say that pretty much any rider on the planet knows at least one person who believes he or she is a super-human just because they ride a motorcycle. I don't have any conclusive statistical data linking these guys to higher chances of being involved in an accident. I just happen to know many crashes that could have been avoided if the riders had had a more responsible approach to road usage.

Likewise, the number of those who believe riders are stalked by other motorists is even bigger, and many of these fellows are very vocal both on the internet and in the real life.

The problem is that these fellows seem to miss one bitter truth: in the end, it's almost all the time that the rider comes off worse when the going gets tough. And not because someone is hunting bikers, but because of the two main reasons I mentioned in the second paragraph. And then, who is to blame is a thing that matters very little.

Finding the culprit for a nasty crash doesn't make things any better

Some say that accidents are events that usually can't be prevented or foreseen, and that they are unexpected. Well, this may be so in certain cases, but this is not the ultimate truth. The street is not kingdom under the dominion of fatalism, and as I already asserted, the causality chains can often be broken fairly easily.

There are a lot of crashes that are avoided almost miraculously solely because one (or more) road user is aware, well trained and disciplined, and has very short reaction times. And this is the happiest outcome in a potentially tragic scenario, no matter who is to blame and whose name we should cheer.

That is because it's no use in learning about the police or the court of law identifying the author of a crash that leaves a rider severely injured, mutilated or dead. The guilty one must suffer the penalty the law and the court indicate, but this doesn't solve the problem.

It may sound a bit cynical, but if you ever talk to people who lost someone in a bike accident, they couldn't care less about the guilty road user who caused it. All that matters is that their husband, son, sister, fiance, father and so on is no longer with them, and nothing in this world can bring these fellows back.

Severed limbs may be replaced with advanced prosthetics, but they won't grow back. If you, like me, play the guitar and piano, and lose a hand, nothing will be the same, at least not until Star Wars technology replaces your missing hand with one like Luke Skywalker got. Not exactly at hand, is it? (pun intended).

And this, my rider friends who believe you're entitled to a tad more than what any other road user gets, brings us to the main topic of this piece.

It doesn't matter what others do, it is a rider's commandment to try their best to stay safe

Yes, almost all riders often drive above the legal speed limits, everywhere. Almost all of us will filter ahead whenever we can. And we'll often make use of the strong acceleration of out steeds to get in front. This puts us at risk, and most of us understand this only too well.

Still, only a small part are aware that danger lurks permanently even in scenarios that seem to have no potential hazards. The crash I reported on yesterday is the perfect proof for this, and the way that accident took place was the one thing that prompted me to start this series of write-ups.

Roads are only getting more crowded, and despite how many electronic systems we cram in our cars and bikes, they are still a long way from being able to compensate human stupidity, ignorance, recklessness, and absent-mindedness.

And because I am sending out a message to riders, I feel like I just cannot stress enough how important is to realize that the road is not a competition and we are not in a computer game. We can't reload a saved game and try to complete the mission again. And neither are we using computer graphics software to allow us 100 undo steps.

It doesn't matter who makes a mistake, it is our duty to be always ready to provide a solution and stay safe. Yes, some drivers are reckless, ignorant idiots, but only just like some riders are. Their ranks might seem to be heftier, but that's only an illusion generated by the far bigger number of cars on the road compared to bikes.

When you are left in a wheelchair by a driver who ran the red light only because you simply throttled hard after you got a green light and failed to notice the car approaching, it doesn't really matter who loses their license, who might do some jail time, who pays the fines and damages.

It will always be you who ends up paying the biggest price. You will no longer need your motorcycle license (in most cases), the sense of freedom you loved so much on the bike will be replaced by the confinement of the wheelchair, and the money you get, if any, will only compensate for a small part of what you lost.

The roads are not getting safer, at least for the foreseeable future, so please make your ride safer by adopting a more reasonable state of mind!
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