It’s spring in Utah and I’ve been able to spend a little time on the bike after work for the last several evenings. The days getting longer and the temperature rising has been a welcome change for me. It’s amazing how much better I feel when I’m able to get out in the wind and watch the road pass under my feet.
There were a couple of times over the winter when I wondered whether or not I really needed the Sportster, but after spending a few afternoons buzzing around the foothills, I realize how much fun she is to ride and how much I enjoy having this little gal in the garage. She’s staying.
That being said, I’ve noticed an oil leak that appears to be coming from the rear rocker box cover, so I’ve picked up the gasket set and will tear into that once the Buell is to a point I can take the Sexy Beast off the lift. I’ve got to put her back together and I have a fairing coming to hopefully make her a little more slippery on the Salt Flats this year.
Last week the Utah Legislature decided to allow motorcycles to filter to the head of the queue when traffic is stopped. It’s been a pretty hot topic on Facebook the last few days because drivers who don’t understand what it is and how it will benefit both drivers in cars along with the motorcycles on the road, have been complaining about it. Although it’s been demonstrated to be safer for motorcyclists, along with lane splitting (a very different practice that’s legal on the highways in California), drivers misunderstand the practice and seem to be upset about it. With that in mind, here’s how I view the practice and why I think it’s a good thing:
It’s safer for motorcycles—Without question, the times I feel the most exposed are when I’m stopped in traffic or stuck in a traffic jam on the Interstate. The ability to filter up through the stopped traffic allows a motorcycle to avoid being rear-ended by an inattentive driver and allows him or her to get out ahead of traffic and safely down the road.
It’s not about being in a hurry and getting to the head of the line—I’ve heard over the last couple of days comments like, “Why can’t motorcycles wait in line like everyone else?” or “What makes motorcycles think they should jump to the front of the line?” For me, at least, it’s not about jumping ahead of the line, but rather getting out of the way and minimizing the possibility of an accident. Sure, the motorcycle gets to the head of the queue, but they are also getting out of the way of automobiles. This is a good thing.
It’s an accepted practice in Europe and California—I only mention this because it’s evidence that the practice does not cause more accidents, but contributes to there being less. Some believe this will increase the number of auto vs motorcycle accidents, but I don’t think so. At least the evidence would suggest otherwise. It will likely be a little disconcerting at first to motorists who are not used to a motorcycle driving by them as they are stopped in traffic, but I would suggest that by this time next year, we will all be used to it and accept it for what it is.
I’ve been surprised at the level of hostility and skepticism I’ve been seeing about this from both drivers and riders. Some suggest the drivers in Utah are discourteous enough that they will open doors on the motorcycles or otherwise impede their ability to successfully filter. I hope that isn’t the case. To be honest, because most of the time a motorcycle should be able to get off the line a little faster than the average car, it shouldn’t take long before drivers see the benefit to motorcycles getting out of the way. It should help traffic flow better and provide a safer experience for folks on bikes.
As a motorcyclist, I have to admit that I see a lot of distracted driving on the highway—people on cell phones, doing makeup, etc. Hopefully people will come to see and notice more bikes on the road. I don’t know if this will help, but I’m in favor of anything (other than not riding) that improves the odds of coming home safely on the bike.
I am Ryan Reynolds
This has to be one of the best motorcycle awareness ads I’ve ever seen.
Please, watch out for motorcyclists.