Tag Archive for helmets

Surrounded by Idiots

Many of us feel this way all the time anyway, but if you’re going to ride a motorcycle, you have to behave as if it were true.

In Peoria last week, a woman turned and ran straight into a motorcyclist. He landed in the hospital in critical condition. They mention a head injury, but don’t mention whether he wore a helmet. No excuse was listed for the driver of the car, but I imagine it was your typical “I didn’t see him” response.

In California, another pinhead tried to use his smartphone to record video of a group of bikers, and he knocked two of them down in the process. In response, they knocked him around and threatened him with a knife. I’m not going to say that’s the right way to handle it, but given the incident, I’m not surprised.

Start Seeing Motorcycles

I’ve been forced to keep my own cool twice this year already.

First, a young woman tailgated me coming out of town. The speed limit jumps from 35 to 55, and I tend to be hard on the throttle so I was right up at 55. I had a turn coming up in a half mile, though, so saw no reason to go any faster until she tried to drive her little red POS up my tailpipe. I put my signal on well ahead of time so she knew I’d be slowing down, and instead of passing me, she just stayed glued to my bumper. I thought about stopping right in front of her, then walking back to have a little chat, but I imagine she’d have freaked out and run me over in self defense. Instead I hugged the shoulder and did my best to stay out of her way when she rocketed past me at the intersection.

In another in-town incident, a van started to back out of a driveway. It was some distance ahead of me, but not far enough that, were I driving a car, it would have been safe or smart to back out. I let off the throttle and covered the brake and clutch, and sure enough, the van showed no intention of stopping. So I stopped, and I watched as an elderly woman eased back out of the driveway, backed toward me, and stopped about eight feet in front of my front tire. Then she just sat in the lane.

And sat, and sat. I don’t know if she saw me and panicked, or thought I was going to pass her, or just got distracted and had something else to do. Someone in the passenger seat finally snapped her out of it and she got rolling… only to stop at the intersection. She had no stop sign, but watched the truck to her left—who did have a stop sign—sit and wait for her to make up her mind. Finally she crept around the corner to the right and drove way. I just shrugged at the truck driver and rode on by. He seemed to get a kick out of that.

These are the people we all share the road with, whether we’re on a bicycle, a motorcycle, or in a car. The nice thing about riding the motorcycle is I’ve become more alert even when I drive the family grocery getter. I’ve spotted and slowed for things the Wife hadn’t noticed. I’ve become better at predicting when someone is about to do something stupid, like yesterday when a woman raced ahead of our van, then swept across our lane and into a right turn lane.

If I’m rolling up on someone at an intersection and I don’t make eye contact with them, I assume they’re about to screw me. Illinois may be a helmet-optional state, but I don’t drive out of town without one. When I get my hands on the Bell Drifter DLX I’ve been eyeballing a while, I intend to wear it even on the short trips.

I see riders all day every day. Thousands ride together without incident. The odds are probably in my favor. However, I’m going to pad those odds out as best I can.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Motorcycle Rescue

It doesn’t get much more horrifying than that.

This video’s been making the rounds, usually taken from condensed, local news broadcasts and reporting, so I went straight for the raw video after I heard about it. It’s amazing seeing so many people pitching in to help out, and the guy is very fortunate to have survived.

Once again we have an instance where a driver did not see the motorcyclist and pulled out in front of him. Unfortunately, it looks like the motorcyclist made it worse by laying the bike down and sliding into the car.

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation teaches laying a bike down is not an avoidance strategy. For starters, there’s more traction in rubber than in metal. This is why riders like to say “shiny side up”: rubber will stop the bike, chrome will not. Second, if the bike’s on its side and the rider is on the ground, both have just become another piece of debris skidding across the road. A rider may lose steering if he locks up the brakes, but there’s zero steering and little hope of stopping if he’s just skidding across asphalt.

Instead the MSF instructs riders to ride out the crash. If you’re going to hit, you’re better off taking off as much speed as possible before impact. Reduce speed, reduce injury.

I don’t know where this motorcyclist learned to ride and it’s pointless to second-guess what he saw and felt in the last seconds before the accident. Again, he’s very fortunate to have survived at all, especially given he wasn’t wearing leather or a helmet. My takeaways from the accident and the story are:

  1. Wear a goddamn helmet.
  2. If you’re going to ride, get a proper education from the MSF or similar source. Sure, Uncle Eddie may have decades of experience on his beefed-up Harley and he may be a great rider, but that doesn’t automatically make him a great teacher.
  3. Don’t lay the bike down. Better to end up on the hood than under it.

Now I’m reminded I didn’t make the time to take the MSF’s Experienced Rider Course this year. Time to put a reminder on my calendar for Spring.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Your Modern World Spites Your Face

In today’s entry of Your Modern World, we find motorcyclists in Nigeria are using dried pumpkin shells as helmets in an attempt to comply with new helmet laws. Many of them are being arrested, yet they still refuse to comply with the law.

The first question a rational human being asks is “why not wear a helmet?” Good question. The first reason is because they’re afraid the helmets will be stolen. This is especially problematic for the motorcyclists who use their bikes as a taxi to get people through the insane Nigerian traffic; the drivers claim they get to the destination and the passenger runs off with the helmet, which costs $29US. That may not sound like a lot, but consider they only make about fifty cents a ride.

Okay, fair enough. What else?

I know some bikers who don’t wear helmets, and their arguments include: helmets restrict vision; helmets dampen hearing; helmets are uncomfortable; you don’t get to feel the wind in the face; forcing helmets on us hampers personal freedom.

Not a big deal in Nigeria. No, it’s their next concern that makes them a prime candidate for a Your Modern World entry:

Stories have also appeared in the local papers highlighting passengers’ fears that the helmets could be used by motorcyclists to cast spells on their clients, making it easy for them to be robbed.

“Some people can put juju inside the helmets and when they are worn the victim can either lose consciousness or be struck dumb,” passenger Kolawole Aremu told the Daily Trust newspaper.

Yes, you read that right: they’re afraid of magic!

I would kill to see ABATE present that argument to the state legislature.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Riding Responsibly

The Rugrats Ride
Originally uploaded by MikeOliveri.

This right here is exactly why I always where a helmet.

I know people who feel helmets interfere with their vision and hearing, so they feel they’re safer without a helmet because they’ll have a better chance to avoid an accident. I also know people who think a helmet will save their life but leave them a vegetable, and they’d rather die than have that happen.

That’s fine. I don’t have a problem with that. I don’t feel helmets should be legislated, but I’ll always wear one.

First of all, I feel it’s my responsibility to do so for my family. I think there are more cases of helmets saving lives and preventing (or at least limiting) head injuries than there are instances of riders left in comas. It’s like the seatbelt argument: sure, there are instances where seatbelts have done more harm than good, but they’re in the minority.

If I’m going to take up something like riding, I need to be as safe as possible for the sake of my family.

The second reason is a name: Ben Roethlisberger. Remember his motorcycle accident? It was a low-speed crash and probably not life-threatening. However, he wasn’t wearing a helmet, and his head went through a windshield. Welcome to the world of reconstructive surgery. I’m not a rich starting quarterback, so I doubt I’d have been able to afford all the surgery and to be arguing with insurance companies over what gets paid for and what doesn’t.

Given I’m more likely to get hit in town at low speed, I’ll stick with the helmet and protect my ugly mug as best I can.

See you on the road.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.