Tag Archive for safety

Riding: When Bad Luck Becomes Worst Luck

Sometimes, an accident is just a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

In Peoria Thursday, a pickup truck rear-ended a motorcyclist and pinned him beneath a second pickup. In a strange repeat of a Utah accident, the bike caught fire and bystanders ran to lift the pickup off the motorcyclist and drag him to safety. It was last reported he is in critical condition. Like the Utah rider, he was not wearing a helmet.

Today the news broke the pickup driver may have had a seizure behind the wheel. It’s hard to say how this would have been avoided. There’s no clear exit for the motorcyclist, no steering clear or something like that. It’s one of those things that just happens, and it happened to be a motorcycle.

However, I see the pickup driver was also cited for operating an uninsured motor vehicle. That’s bullshit. It doesn’t matter whether he hit a motorcyclist or another car, he caused a lot of damage to two vehicles, severely injured someone, and could have done a lot worse. Now the victims are left on the hook for their vehicle and medical bills, and have to either deal with their own insurance companies (and take hits on premiums) or try to sue the pickup driver. It’s insult to injury.

I rode my own bike through Peoria after midnight last night. I still had no fear, but these things serve to heighten awareness. I checked my mirror a lot more often than usual, and I recalled my MSF lessons about always leaving an escape. For example, don’t ride up on someone’s bumper or stop in the center of the lane, because it’s going to be much harder—if not impossible—to slip out on one side if you see a rear-end collision coming. I also try to stay in gear at stop lights so I can get moving in a hurry.

Would I have avoided a collision like this? Maybe, maybe not. But we should all do our best to keep our skills sharp and minimize our risk.

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.

We’re Still Out There

Moto Photo 1

I thought this would be a good time to remind folks that despite the sudden rush of cool weather in the Midwest, motorcyclists are still out there.

I’ve read about two accidents in the past week, both of which could have been avoided had a car driver been paying attention. The excuse, of course, is “I didn’t see him.” I think the problem is more selective blindness than obstructed view, however; people look for cars, don’t expect to see a motorcycle, so it doesn’t register. Bam. Problem is this could easily be a bicyclist or a pedestrian, which could be even more dangerous.

This is also on the heels of two deaths in Peoria. In the first instance, some asshole in a hurry crossed a painted lane divider on War Drive in Peoria, a spot where he really had no business trying to pull off a pass no matter how clear traffic appeared. He hit a motorcycle coming the other direction and killed the driver.

In the second instance, a drunk smashed into the motorcycle stopped at an intersection, then drove away. The motorcycle driver and the passenger were killed. The memorial items placed at the intersection include a stuffed neon rain jacket with the words “Can you see me now?” printed on the back.

That’s not to say the motorcyclist is always at fault. We heard—and saw the aftermath of—an accident just a few months ago. The idiot rider thought he had a good opportunity to open up the throttle on his crotch rocket, so he ran a red light and raced down Sheridan. Only problem is an old man saw the red light and pulled out of a store parking lot, right in front of the rider. Bam. The guy was fortunate he survived, as he wasn’t wearing a helmet.

The point is keep your eyes open, folks. Don’t just look down a street and think “Any cars?” Look for anything. Motorcycles, bikes, kids on skateboards, a troop of monkeys, whatever. You don’t know what’s around the corner, and if you’re in a hurry, that’s when you miss things.

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.

Riding Season & Religion

The weather around here really went to crap in May. Those of us who ride motorcycles were able to get out early thanks to some warmer weather in April, but most of this month has been dreary, cold, and rainy with the occasional storm. We could have toughed it out (and I spotted a few guys who did), but after being spoiled by the early warmth most of us just sat around and stared out the window.

It’s easy to spot riding season in Illinois because you start seeing motorcycles everywhere. In the central and southern parts of the state, there are a lot of wide, open roads to cruise, and you’ll see riders of all ages and genders riding just about every style of bike there is from cruisers and sportbikes to trikes and touring bikes. The yellow ABATE “Start Seeing Motorcycles” banners start showing up along the busier roads, and the local dealerships start running out of stock on their less expensive models.

This is also when you start seeing “blessing of the bikes” ceremonies. This is like a small rally where the group will get a priest or a minister to say a prayer and put a blessing on everyone’s bike.

Blessing isn’t really my thing, but I do think it’s an interesting part of riding culture. It reminds me a bit of the way Shinto priests bless electronic gadgets like cell phones so they don’t get lost, damaged, stolen, or suffer some other misfortune. If they feel safer or more comfortable on their bike, then more power to ‘em. (Provided, of course, they don’t go overboard and think they’re invincible.) I only learned about them a year or so ago when I found a riding club in Bloomington, IL, held them frequently, and it turns out they’re a very common practice.

In fact, somebody put one together the next town over. I thought about checking it out and taking some pictures but I had to be out of town that day. Too bad, as it might have been fun to see. I would have rolled through the line if only to talk about it, though again it’s not something I put much stock in (my own superstition is naming my bike).

Maybe next year.

Though I guess I better take that Flying Spaghetti Monster sticker off my bike first…

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.

Packin' Heat

Illinois does not have legislation in place allowing its citizens to carry firearms, but it looks like there will be a ballot item in my county next week that will ask the Illinois legislature to consider concealed carry legislation. I’m going to vote yes.

The first question I’m always asked is “Why do you need a gun?”

For the most part, I don’t. I live in a relatively safe, rural town. But that’s not the point. I think too often people think about where they live rather than where they’ll go. 95% of the time, I’m not going anywhere that I feel I need to be carrying a firearm. I’d never carry to work because I work in a school. I’d never carry to my karate school because there’s no safe way to lock it up while I’m on the mat (and if I have to lock it up in the car, I may as well not carry it at all). However, there are those times I’m in unfamiliar territory or I’m traveling through or visiting an unsafe area that it wouldn’t hurt to have a little reassurance under my jacket.

I think everyone has the right to defend themselves. The Boston Legal clip I posted the other day may be over the top, but I agree with the general principle. The opposition mostly comes with fear and a lack of understanding of firearms.

First of all, the idea that more firearms equals more crime, suicide, etc., has been debunked. I’ll just point you to the Kates-Mauser Gun Report, an in-depth study of firearms around the world, for the numbers.

Second, I do not believe concealed carry permits should be handed out like candy. I assume background checks are a given, so let’s skip that bit. The Woodford County Sheriff stated in a local newspaper that he supports permits and training, and I agree with that. If I have to take a test to drive my car, why not take a test to carry a firearm? The opposite extreme position says that is akin to registration and opens the door to confiscations in the future, but that’s a chance I’m willing to take. Any random idiot can kill someone with a car, and any random idiot can kill someone with a gun. Just as there are people who have no business behind the wheel, there will be people who have no business carrying a firearm.

Of course, I have no illusions this referendum will do a bit of good. Even if the legislature brought concealed carry to the floor, I have every expectation it will be shot down. Chicago has a very strict ban on handguns (not that it’s done anything to solve handgun crime), and with most of the Illinois population living in and around Chicago, they’ve got the biggest voice in the legislature.

Until I move to a state where I can legally carry, I guess I’ll just have to resort to the trusty triangle choke.

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.