This seems pretty representative of how many cagers perceive us. Constructive comments only, please.
Outwitting the nitwits on motorcycles
by Leslie Baldacci
Chicago Sun-Times, July 2 2004
You hear them before you see them, which is a very lucky thing for them.
I'm talking about the bands of speeding motorcyclists who use Chicago-area expressways as their personal obstacle courses and drag strips. With summer in full bloom, these knuckleheads are moving at top speed.
To call them accidents waiting to happen is inaccurate because waiting is passive. These bikers seem to be aggressively courting death and dismemberment.
I don't want anyone's guts on my windshield, and I figure you don't either. Because these drivers clearly are not looking out for themselves or their passengers, it's up to the rest of us to look out for the both of us. Here's how.
If we keep an ear out, we will know to keep an eye out. Lucky for them, their bikes are very noisy. Listen for a high-pitched whine that sounds like a swarm of supersize, very angry hornets coming up behind you on the highway, coming up very fast, aiming to plunge a stinger into your rear bumper.
This din, as loud as an ambulance, will temporarily distract you from the business at hand, which is piloting your own vehicle on whatever busy, dangerous highway you happen to travel. Try not to let the distraction unnerve you. Keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road. Check your rear and side mirrors, and you'll probably get a visual of the fast-approaching hornet swarm.
I usually count at least four motorcycles in a group. No one wears a helmet. The guys are often shirtless, leaning forward so far that they're practically lying down on their bikes. Maybe it's to cut wind resistance and go faster. Maybe it's to avoid bugs, I don't know.
The girls hanging on to the drivers are usually wearing halter tops and likewise leaning forward, offering a brief view of their lower back tattoos as they speed off into the distance.
If you're driving a car at 70 mph in the fast lane, the swarm will pass you in a matter of seconds. So figure the bikers are going at least 85-90 mph. This reckless disregard of the law and their own personal safety will likely stun and annoy you, in the way that teenagers acting like teenagers are often annoying. But that doesn't mean we are not still responsible for our teenagers, and so we must also feel responsible for these idiotic young adults.
They don't take it seriously, but we must: There is nothing -- no doors, no roofs, nothing -- between their limbs, their thick skulls, their skin and the road. Nothing between their bodies and your car. Nothing between a girl's butterfly tattoo and concrete pavement.
The first thing they teach you about riding a motorcycle is that motorcyclists have to be smarter than other drivers to stay alive because motorcyclists are exposed and vulnerable. It takes longer to stop a motorcycle than a car. To even the odds just a little, cyclists must make a habit of anticipating surprises.
A highway full of cars is like a prairie full of stampeding buffalo or a plain of charging rhinos. From inside a car, protected by steel bars and air bags, these motorcycle thrill-seekers look like the biggest fools on the planet, trying to outrun a herd of charging rhinos while naked by weaving in and out and cutting lanes up the middle. Their bullfighter mentality contains no thought for the danger their risky behavior poses to their passengers and fellow travelers.
It's not about police enforcement. It's up to the rest of us to look out for them. We have to outwit the nitwits on the speeding motorcycles.
Fortunately, we can hear them before we see them. That way we can look out for those who don't look out for themselves.
Leslie Baldacci is a former Sun-Times reporter and the author of Inside Mrs. B's Classroom: Courage, Hope and Learning on the South Side of Chicago. She teaches at Dixon School.