Our biker vigilance needs to improve

Nicholas Mercer nmercer@cbncompass.ca
Published on July 3, 2014
Compass reporter/photographer Nicholas Mercer.
Compass file photo

You've undoubtedly heard the deep roar of a two or four-stroke engine piercing the air of any roadway in the Trinity-Conception-Placentia region.

 

 Moments after hearing the rumble, you've seen a man or woman travelling down the road on a motorcycle.

With the weather getting progressively nicer, you're going to be hearing it a lot more.

In recent years, more and more people are fulfilling their dreams and purchasing a motorcycle. It's a sure sign of wealth in our society.

Unfortunately, one of those people lost his life early last week (see related story, Page A1).

Capt. Paul Rodgers was travelling back to his Carbonear home on June 23 from a ride along the North Shore on his Harley-Davidson when he was tragically killed when an errant Dodge pickup crossed into the oncoming lane, colliding head-on with Rodgers.

He was transported to hospital and succumbed to his injures later that evening. Rodgers was 64 years-of-age.

He was a respected seaman in the province, having spent more than a decade at the helm of the MV Caribou, shepherding travellers between Port aux Basques and the mainland.

Rodgers never stood a chance. Imagine a 4,685 pound vehicle bearing down on the considerably smaller 814 lb. motorcycle.

It's a grisly reminder of the perils these bikers face every time they set their two wheels on asphalt. They must be vigilante when the other people on the road may not be. They must be aware of everything around them. Even the slightest miscalculation or slip can mean injury or worse.

They lean their weight too much one way on a turn and they - best case scenario - experience a vicious case of "road rash."

That's why as motorists we have to pay extra attention when we're on the road. The point is: they don't need our hapless driving habits to endanger them more.

Just look around the next time you're out driving. You're bound to see drivers turning without signaling, pulling out of driveways without looking or fumbling around with cellphones.

Any little shift in attention can cost someone their life.

We need to be more mindful of bikers and where they are on the road. Not just bikers though ... everyone, including pedestrians.

When we get in an accident in a car, we have air bags or other forms of protection. Motorcyclists are completely exposed.

Remember that War Amps of Canada commercial from the 80s? You know, the one with the robot leaping through a fictional world that gets more perilous as the robot progresses deeper? At the end, the robot loses his arm, puts it back on and utters the quote, 'I'm Astra, a robot. I can put my arm back on; you can't. Play safe."

Biker vigilance is like that.

If you have to switch the radio station, wait a little longer. If that text message you've been waiting for comes through, resist the urge to check it, or pull over. Ignore the coffee in its holder or the pouch of French fries on the seat until you safetly come to a stop.

These are all things that need to happen. These are things that have to improve. We need to get better.

— Nicholas Mercer is a reporter/photographer with The Compass. He lives in Bay Roberts and can be reached at nmercer@cbncompass.ca.