I recently took a motorcycle safety course that included two evenings of classroom instruction and two half-days of practice. In addition to the specific cycle riding how-tos, I also learned some fundamental rules of the road; such as don’t rev the bike while stopped lest the driver behind me be forced to inhale the exhaust. Having never ridden before, I probably wouldn’t have thought of it, but once informed I did my best to provide the rider behind me with as little exhaust inhalation as possible. Too bad the twenty-something totally cool badass man-boy in front of me wasn’t able to grasp the concept.
Another basic rule of the road is to leave a cushion of safety between the vehicle ahead of me and my vehicle so I would have time to stop safely just in case the other driver had to suddenly hit the brakes. In other words, DON’T TAILGATE – IT’S DANGEROUS. I like that rule since I despise tailgaters (and never engage in the act of tailgating when someone I know can see me). The bonus to the don’t-tailgate rule is that when someone is tailgating me, I should slow down in order to increase the cushion of safety in front of me. That way, if the first driver slams on the brakes, I still have time to stop slowly, rather than slam and get crushed between two vehicles. I love this class! Up until that moment, I had thought of myself as some passive-aggressive wacko who slowed down for the sole purpose of pissing off the tailgating asshole behind me. Wrong. All that time I had been engaging in an act of safety and should continue to do so! Elation! I waited and hoped for something about tapping the brakes while being tailgated, but unfortunately it was not one of the recommendations.
A third rule is to stay with the flow of traffic. It’s just not safe to go a lot more slowly or quickly than everyone else. We’re all familiar with this rule and we’ve all seen those who refuse to comply, from the twenty-something totally cool badass man-boy, unable to grasp yet another simple concept, weaving in and out of traffic at 90+, to the 90+ year-old driver who thinks twenty-something miles per hour is way too fast. Of course, the solution to these annoyances on either end of the spectrum is the wide-open six-lane highway. With three lanes on either side, there’s room for us all: the far left for the man-boys, the far right for the blue-hairs, and the middle for someone like me who wants to go faster than the speed limit but not quite 90.
Unfortunately, there’s always someone who has to ruin a good thing. Recently the ruination of the super highway has been the problem with the entrance ramps and the apparent misunderstanding about who is actually supposed to obey the yield sign at the end of the ramp. Sometimes the driver on the ramp yields to the flow of traffic until it’s safe to merge. Other times the driver comes barreling down the ramp and swerves into traffic without a glance. It seems that these barrelers have begun to intimidate the blue-hairs, wimps, and holier-than-thous in the right lane. Rather than maintain the flow, the right-laners either yield immediately or cut over into the middle lane as soon as they see anyone coming down the ramp.
What gets me is that the right-laner who yields inappropriately or cuts over to the middle actually thinks he has just engaged in a supreme act of kindness by allowing the other driver to merge. Bullshit. Right-laner, you’ve yielded or cut over because you’ve allowed yourself to be intimidated by a merging bully, and rather than take a stand and maintain your flow, you caved. I know you think you’re better than the rest of us, but I also know you tailgate when no one is looking, and caving to a bully doesn’t make you a good person. It makes you a wimp. Listen, you gotta have some spine. The barreler has the yield, not you. Your job is to stay with the flow. Anything else is just not safe. It doesn’t matter that you think you’re being nice. You’re not. You do not have a yield sign, so don’t yield. You’re not up to middle-lane speed, so stay out of the middle lane. It’s just not nice to swerve over like that and interrupt our flow. We were doing fine before you got here and we’d like to keep it that way. I know it’s really important for you to be nice, so, be a really nice driver and stay in your own damn lane. And don’t yield unless the yield sign is yours. If you can’t do either, just stay home.