Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Dear Riders - Think Of Your Loved Ones!

It is with a great deal of sadness and some trepidation that I feel compelled to finally write about this topic.

There are many campaigns that run in different countries urging motorists to be very wary and mindful of motorcycle riders... one that pops into mind, is "Look Left, Look Right... Look Bike" - this was a campaign aimed at reminding drivers to check their blindspots when turning or changing lanes.

Compared to many countries in Asia, Singapore is well known to be very orderly and organized when it comes to driving habits and the quality and planning of roads and highways.

Having said that, one thing that surprised me when I first arrived on these sunny shores (and still amazes me today), was the seemingly 'unruly' behaviour of motorcyclists.

Don't get me wrong - of course there are many safe riders out there, who value their own life and those around them, but I'm sure nearly every driver will agree with me when I say that the way in which many riders swerve in and out of traffic, squeeze between vehicles while travelling at high speeds on expressways and general lack of adherance to any of the road rules, are often flirting with serious injury and often, even death.

I've had this discussion with many friends and colleagues, and I've heard responses such as "well, that's the way they negotiate through traffic", or "everybody does it - you're not going to be able to change anything"... and when I've suggested that perhaps very harsh fines could be imposed and enforced to dissuade such behaviour, I've been (probably quite rightly) told, "just what we don't need - another fine!!"

Let me say, in my opinion, I suspect that a very large fine would be far less painful than a faceful of bitumen.

I cannot count the number of times that I have seen emergency vehicles attending to a motorbike accident, usually loading a rider into the back of an ambulance - there have been some weeks that it feels like a daily occurrence... on more than one occassion, I have exited my vehicle to help a fallen rider before emergency personnel have arrived.

The worrying thing, is that some of the riders out there seem to display a level of 'arrogance' to motorists - they will blatantly swerve in front of cars and then stare down or even scold the driver behind who has had to brake suddenly to avoid running them down and might've given a brief blast of their horn.

My message to these people is this - forget about road rage or kiasu concerns of trying to beat other riders and drivers. Think of your loved ones - your wives, your kids, your parents - all those people who would be devestated if they lost you. Treat the road and others around you with respect. Stay in a fixed lane on fast moving highways, instead of trying to squeeze through a gap that is barely wide enough for your handlebars to fit.

What I cannot understand, is why the riders of which I describe, do not see the danger in which they are putting themselves... an analogy that often springs to (my) mind, is - "Would you continue to stand right on the edge of a 100-metre cliff, with hundreds of people around you, jostling with their elbows? Would you move back away from the edge?" - to me, riding between cars and trucks while travelling 90km/h (or more) is the same game of centimetres as standing on the 100-metre cliff edge. All it takes is just one of those drivers to move just slightly off their line, and all of a sudden the rider has gone from a dare-devil to just another statistic.

Did you know, that in Singapore in 2010, more than 46% of all road fatalities in Singapore were motorbike riders or pillion passengers? Furthermore, did you know that two riders are killed on average every single week?

Think of these numbers next time you jump on your bike - then think of your loved ones! No matter what, do NOT think it will never happen to you, if you are a rider that flirts with death daily by dodging in and out of traffic or squeezing between vehicles... it's only a matter of time until you become the next statistic that emergency workers are scraping off the blacktop.

Think of your families, my friends!!

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