Our biker vig­i­lance needs to im­prove

The Compass - - OPINION -

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.

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