Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Once upon a time, long long ago... in a land far far away...

back sometime after the last ice age, as sea levels gradually rose, I used to be a motorcycle instructor with the Canada Safety Council.  In fact I was a Chief Instructor.  My "job" was to acquire a sponsor, line up motorcycles, hire and train instructors and administer the program in a safe and efficient manner... amongst a hundred other things.

I saw thousands of students, a couple of hundred instructors and many types of motorcycles pass through the course.  It was an exciting, useful, and informative experience, that I will state clearly... I loved  doing.

My goal in them early days, was to create a better road user, plain and simple.  My passion was bikes and in my position I felt that by training motorcyclists, we were providing a service to all road users.  In my opinion, everyone should be required to take a mandatory /rider/driver training program.

Lately since my return to Prince Edward Island, I find myself once again involved in the ongoing controversy about road users and particularly how that relates to motorcycle/car collision and fatalities.

There have been 4 motorcycle deaths this short season on this small Island, and from the information I have gleaned (newspaper/television/personal) none of these collisions were accidents, all were preventable and in two cases, elderly drivers were at fault.  In no case was the rider blamed.  The end result is still the same.  Four human being perished because someone else, a licensed driver of a vehicle, made a mistake. 

Period! 

End of sentence.

Not a day goes by that I myself do not face a situation whereas a driver makes a mistake that causes me to take some type of evasion action.  This afternoon, driver in a slowing right lane, jumped across in front of my bike.  I was traveling at the speed limit, in the left tire track, and this placed me perhaps 40 kph faster than the right lane, in which there were at least a dozen vehicles.  Mid way, the culprit did their thing.

Although I rarely use my horn, in this instance I held the button (which btw I had covered once I saw traffic backing up in that lane) for several seconds.  The driver then drove at barely a walking speed and as I went around them, now in the right lane, I saw a very elderly woman, barely peering over the steering wheel.  It's unlikely that she even heard my horn, certainly she didn't react to it.

Okay, most bike horns are anemic, true but you shouldn't have to use it at all.

Lately there are calls once again for mandatory retesting of elderly drivers.

I say... let's not single them out but as I have always made clear (is anyone listening!?) I feel that all road users should be re-tested routinely.  Depending on your license classification, say... every five years for a normal car validation or motorcycle and three years for professional road users.  Perhaps I could add that seniors be tested annually after age 70.

I got my motorcycle license at age 14, in downtown Edmonton, just off 109st (the High level bridge, in rush hour, after school) In those days a 14 year old could ride a motorcycle under 100cc displacement.  I failed the first go round, not stopping as I entered the street from the DMV.  He didn't wash me out immediately, after all back then, you were given the route and expected to remember it and know how to follow it.  I passed on my second try a month later.

When I turned 16, I did a car certification.  In the ensuing decades, I have never been re-tested.  Do you think things have changed since 1969?  Dam right they have.  If I received a letter tomorrow from the DMV stating that I was required to drop by in 30 days to do a written test followed by a road test... I'd be first in line.

I'd also go on to say that I am a better road user than 90% of the general public.  Period, end of sentence.  I'd also go on to state that many of my friends that drive cars and trucks and ride motorcycles, are in the 10 percent.

Where do you fall... no pun intended?


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