I ride in batshit bonkers Bay Bridge traffic every day, where my collection of anecdata seems to indicate an overwhelming majority of drivers are focused on anything but driving. But my first direct contact with a distracted driver was somehow not on my bike, or in the trenches of my daily commute.
Truthfully, the contact I speak of was with Big Vancy, the sweet Transit 250 that replaced Bigger Fancy, our enduring F250 bikes ‘n’ mags hauler. Not me. I wasn’t even driving—Max was, returning from LA loaded with press bikes, including one on a hitch carrier, conveniently positioned to act as a bumper between the senseless 17-year old Mini driver and our van full of potential good times.
I hear you asking for his address as you reach for your pitchfork—and believe me, I keep mine plenty sharp—but I’m not gonna doxx this youthful yutz in the name of an educational visit from CityBike’s most rabid fans. This ain’t the Trump administration.
Anyway… the bike and the van sustained minimal damage. Oh yeah, Max is ok too. Which reminds me, the funniest part about this fortunately funny, coulda-been-totally-not-funny story is that when Max bounded out of Big Vancy, demanding Numbnuts Jr’s papers, the kid handed over his license, insurance, and a ticket he’d received just five days prior, for—get this—texting and driving.
Which brings me to my point. You were hoping we’d get there, right?
Distracted driving is something we motorcyclists can no longer afford to simply observe. Sure, it’s illegal, but that illegality is flaunted with seemingly zero concern. More importantly, regardless of legal status, we’re an extremely unprotected class. It’s already hard to see bikes, and it’s nearly impossible when you’re making out with the tiny screen you’re hiding in your lap, because then no one can tell you’re using your phone.
So far, motorcyclist response to this worsening phenomenon seems restricted to the usual venues: crying about it online, acting tough online, and occasionally kicking a car. As we learned from the Road Warrior-esque video making the rounds in late June, even if you don’t land yourself in a body bag with that solid plan, your dumb move might really ruin some innocent driver’s day.
So don’t do that, Road Rage Rambo.
But what, then? I’m not proposing a modest proposal-style approach, in which we abandon the high road for learning to shoot with the left hand while throttling with the right.
Seriously—what do we do? What can we do, beyond writing our legislators and hoping that the changeable messaging signs on the freeway miraculously impact this birdbrained driver behavior?
If you have ideas, send ‘em in. You know how to reach me. (But to prevent more of those “You didn’t include contact info, Editor Jerkface!” emails, you can reach me at RFTC@CityBike.com.)