Published on July 25th, 2010 | by Boris
I predict you will hear the term ‘Vulnerable Road User’ a lot in the future, and you will hear it applied specifically to motorcyclists.
So I hereby serve notice to all and sundry that the moment this loathsome term becomes a meme for our lobbyists, and they begin to refer to motorcycle riders as “vulnerable”, I will declare them my enemy and strive with all of my might to destroy them.
Be thusly advised. I am not now, have never been and will never be a ‘vulnerable road user’.
I am a well-skilled and vastly experienced motorcyclist. I happily and eagerly cheat death each time I ride, because it makes me feel more alive than anything I have ever done. I am constantly honing my abilities and challenging myself in the never-ending learning curve that is riding motorcycles. I am no more vulnerable to the mindless vagaries of stinking car drivers than a shark is to the school fish it swims among.
Believe me when I tell you I am not remotely interested in being depicted as “vulnerable” in the media or in government policy. I am insulted and offended by such a repellent descriptor.
I realise that some of our rider representatives feel that magical government coffers will creak open and disgorge untold sums of money – money that will be spent saving us from ourselves – if only they could make the government understand how truly and wretchedly “vulnerable” we really are.
Can they not see that this is the slippery slope to the legislation of everything from compulsory dayglo clothing to daylight-only riding?
I would like these people to realise and remove their heads from their distended bottoms for a second, and hearken to the wise words of my friend, JD:
“This ‘vulnerable road user’ theme, is just another blow in the relentless dumbing down of motorcycling – the whitewashing, mainstreaming, and blandening of our beloved lifestyle, which is being pushed by those who purport to represent us in order to get the car-driving cattle to think we are just like them but with half the number of wheels. The Internet motorcycle forums are inhabited by people who commute on two wheels, or wear fluoro vests on their Life Be In It-style rides. But these misguided souls are not motorcyclists in the true sense of the word, however much they stand up at quasi-political rallies and claim to be. They are beige wannabes. They are wishing to be seen by other cardigan-wearers as being part of a lifestyle they will never be part of and never understand. And these are the ‘vulnerable road users’ who bleat about their rights needing to be protected and wanting to be hugged by the rest of the road-using world while they are ‘riding’ to their local latte joint on the way home from the annual toy run.”
JD, is, of course, absolutely and scaldingly right.
On the one hand, riders’ groups shrewishly demand that our rights as riders be respected, while simultaneously trying to paint us as weak and defenseless road-users.
Here’s some hot news, non-representative swill (thanks, Paul).
You painting me as being vulnerable implies some forsaking of personal responsibility on my part, and that is anathema to me.
I am responsible for my riding. ALL THE TIME.
To assist me in this, I operate a vehicle that is in every way better than a car. The only time it is not safer than a car is when it hits something.
I understand this. I wouldn’t be riding bikes if I didn’t understand this with savage clarity.
At all other times my bike is light-years ahead of a stinking car. It is more agile, easier to park, environmentally friendly, pulls chicks, fills the cops with hate, and boasts acceleration and real-world performance unequaled by even the finest sportscar for a fraction of the cost.
Those contemptible lycra-clad fools on pushbikes are the vulnerable road-users. Their vulnerability stems from a) their inability to maintain traffic speed; b) lack of appropriate equipment to indicate their intentions; c) Inability to utilise lane space adequately; d) Inability to see traffic that approaches from behind via mirrors; and e) Inability to merge safely.
None of that applies to motorcyclists.
As a result of more than three decades of riding, my reflexes are catlike, my sixth sense is astonishing and I have learned, harshly and rapidly, that my well-being and survival is in my hands and my hands alone.
It is up to me to hone my riding skills constantly.
It is up to me to take complete responsibility for how I ride.
And therefore I am in no position to blame a car driver for running me down. Even if the law is on my side – cos that’s so comforting when you’re blood is pooling on the hot bitumen,
I am an idiot to even expect the fat-shanked piece of garbage to see me as it steers its SS Commodore over my twitching body.
I know this – and since knowledge is power, I am empowered and I ride accordingly.
How does this make me vulnerable?
Quite simply, it doesn’t.
I am a motorcyclist. I am not a vulnerable road user. I never have been. I never will be
And woe betide any fool who wishes to make me appear this way.