It’s really pathetic that I have been planning to write this article for some time now, and this very thing has now actually happened to one of my friends. As far as the attitude towards motorcyclists is concerned, many things are much better than in the past, but there are still quite a few grey areas and these can still cause big problems.
Unfortunately, the “it’s just a motorbike, I can still make it’ attitude has become pervasive recently.
I’m sure everyone is familiar with the tale where the cyclist is faster than the pedestrian, the motorcycle rider’s faster than the cyclist, the truck driver is faster than the motorcycle rider, the car driver’s faster than the truck driver, but the snail is still the fastest because when the railway barrier goes down, only the snail can cross. Realistically speaking, there are numerous weak points to the story, and let’s not get bogged down by the fact that the snail will get run over by the train as only an idiot would go on the tracks when the barrier is down.
In reality, none of these vehicles are faster than the motorcycle as we have quietly left the 1960s behind. You have to buy a super expensive sports car for it to be faster than a motorbike.
This means that assuming that you can still make it out in front of the motorbike (because bikes are slower than cars) is a fundamental error in judgement. And not an error where you fill up your car with petrol instead of diesel or vice versa, ruining the engine and whine how much has that’s gonna cost – this is an error where people may potentially die.
Obviously, beyond the issue of priority, both parties could be responsible. Giving priority doesn’t mean that you have to wait hours at the side-road, waiting until there is no one approaching in a 5 km radius. You can drive out in front of approaching vehicles as long as you don’t force them to suddenly brake and change direction.
(I feel I must add, albeit timidly, that in urban traffic, the party which has priority can easily lift their legs or hands off the gas pedal, and shouldn’t accelerate and curse but rather help the other party. In other words, get your foot off the pedal and let the other guy turn out in peace.)
But why drivers would drive out in front of motorcyclists and within braking distance, I’ll never know.
There is only one explanation I can think of: the story I mentioned above has made too much of an impact. People seem to be unable to comprehend that a motorcycle is not an inferior vehicle and is not the same as a moped slowly chugging along.
The reality is quite the opposite in fact: not only is the motorcycle faster, but there are quite a few idiotic bikers who speed as fast as they can. Given how frequently this happens, motorists should expect this and not a slowly approaching motorcycle driver. Driving out in front of motorcycles is potentially dangerous.
Many bikers have died speeding on main roads because motorists have driven out in front of them. This is a situation that bikers cannot avoid or prevent as it’s very possible that the manoeuvre was already started when they were not visible yet. In such cases, in theory, the stereotypical Skoda/Suzuki-driving grandpa is not necessarily at fault.
But this of course does not justify drivers turning out in front of motorbikes travelling normally. Yet they do. It doesn’t matter whether the motorcycle is going slow or speeding, if motorists drive out in front of them, these bikers often die, as it has been reported thousands of times on the news.
I was driving on Route 5 recently at 80 km/h instead of the 90 km/h speed limit (this is a main road that has signs showing how many bikers had died recently). A food delivery guy on a scooter (!) drove out in front of me and if I had been travelling at 90 km/h, I would have hit him head on.
Another time, on Route 4 (another infamous road), about 300 metres before the roundabout, a car parking with a rubber dinghy on top felt that it just had to turn around on the road, in front of me, the motorcycle driver. I had to slam the brakes not to crash into the car’s door. He was actually brainless enough not to travel the 300 metres to the roundabout and turn, instead driving out and turning in front of the biker, onto the straight road where bikers are typically speeding as fast as they can. If I were your average GSXR/R6 rider, I would now be writing this post from 6 feet under.
A few days ago, a car packed to the brim with people felt that they can easily make it out in front of me. The only way I could avoid the crash was by emergency braking.
There have been times when I travelled in the car queue, at the appropriate distance, in the same position as if I were also a car. There was a driver waiting on the side-road, waiting exactly until I got there and that’s when they decided they wanted to try if they can make it out in front of me. Due to the intensity of the braking, my passenger fell onto my neck, and I could hardly hold the bike upright to keep it from falling over.
About 5 km before this, I had the same exact thing happen with a female driver: I was travelling along with the cars and she thought she can make it out, although this time it happened from the left.
Are these rare, exaggerated examples? No, these are just the ones I remember. But this is an everyday problem.
The reason I managed to avoid all these accidents is not because I was travelling at or below the speed limit, but because I’ve become paranoid: I pay extra attention to all cars waiting on the side of the road or on connecting roads, I do not accelerate and I prepare for emergency braking, if needed.
I never pass any cars without paying attention just because I have priority, let alone speed along. I expect people to drive out in front of me all the time and everywhere. Regardless, I still feel that the Reaper is out there somewhere waiting for me.
Yesterday my friend, Asesso Zoli, live-tested the knee protectors he manufactures himself. Zoli is a biker so cautious that one time when we were testing scooters and he was following me on his VFR, he actually dropped behind when he thought overtaking me was an unnecessary risk. Even though I wasn’t speeding too much, not that a scooter can really speed.
I am almost certain that he complied with all regulations, to the millimetre, on a road that was straight as an arrow. There was a small truck coming in the opposite lane, looking to turn left, and came up to the centre-line and turned on their turn signal. Zoli continued forward with no worries as he had priority, yet the truck driver felt he can still make it through. No matter how much Zoli went out to the right, the truck couldn’t make it. It was a situation he couldn’t prevent. (Similar to this one, except here the motorcyclist was the idiot due to the speed.)
Full protective gear, jacket with integrated protectors, biker boots, helmet, gloves, and knee protectors, yet the accident still resulted in two broken wrists, one of them a compound fracture (as in permanent damage), meaning even wiping his own ass was still months away. At least his knees were fine. The VFR was completely totalled, the truck driver did not ‘acknowledge liability’ – this is because approximately 99% of all motorists are this spineless and fail to comprehend that this is a criminal matter, there is an investigation conducted, the matter goes to court and it’s completely unnecessary to lie and clown about, as everything is always revealed.
And all this because motorists think they can make it out in front of motorcyclists.
Dear motorists, YOU CANNOT. I often see those faltering, rushed gazes as you try to slip out, because it’s just a motorbike. I really don’t know where people learn this moronic behaviour, where they would understate such a manoeuvre because it’s only a motorcycle.
And this doesn’t even reach the level of the unbelievable traffic arrogance I see day after day, that is increasingly beginning to resemble a scene from Mad Max. (Incidentally, the police are doing nothing to stop this. To reiterate: nothing.) And this is just a minor example of the pervasive nonchalance and selfishness. Because in that precise moment, something is so fucking important that you can’t wait 30 seconds.
Obviously, the rider of the motorbike is expected to have the patience to wait a week until they’re released from the hospital, and then take another year for rehab, if they can be rehabilitated at all.
I’ve been riding in Budapest for almost 20 years now (as a courier for the first three) and I can tell you that the situation in terms of biker-motorist relations has improved greatly. But recently we’ve started to regress, and although there are fewer idiots, they tend to be more extreme. The paradox is that there are quite a lot of motorists that are normal, polite and lenient with bikers, but as a result the few idiots left are even more dangerous, because we’re not expecting them. We cannot even imagine that while travelling normally on the road with head-lights turned on, a car would suddenly drive out in front of us.
But you should be prepared, because the average or below-average car-driver cannot put themselves in your place, and are not prepared enough to fully comprehend the given traffic situation. In fact, they might just be staring out of the windshield blankly and not notice you at all.
It’s this article you should forward and share (especially with disastrous and dim-witted female drivers) and not the latest cute kitten or that brain-dead idiot pouring ice water on their head. If we actually manage to beat this information into your skull, that could actually save a few of the more normal motorbike riders.
Try to put yourself in their place: what would it be like to become permanently disabled/die just because someone was so impatient. We motorcyclists would like to go on living, preferably in healthy bodies. Thank you for the opportunity.