Yesterday while driving down Barham Blvd in Los Angeles, I witnessed a car slowly turn in front of a motorcyclist heading down the hill. With such bad timing, the motorcyclist was put in immediate danger. Fortunately, the rider was skilled enough to avoid collision, but unfortunately this scenario befalls riders all too often with commonly fatal results.
Though generally thought of us as sprawling and flat city (which it largely is), Los Angeles is also home to a significant number of hills. As riders we all know that while tight corners make for enjoyable riding, we need to increase our sense of awareness on them. Balance, watching for changing road conditions and predicting others are all necessary to avoid disaster.
I ride Barham Blvd almost daily, as do many other commuters. Due to the inclination and unfortunate intersection placement at the bottom of the hill, many riders find themselves in trouble on this road. Commonly, bikes heading down the hill will pick up speed as gravity takes them. Simultaneously, vehicles at the bottom often pull in front of these motorcyclists, having misjudged distance and trajectory.
I can still remember the time a red Mini Cooper turned directly in front of me on Barham. I was so close to hitting her that I could see the look of outrage on her face as I braked for my life (and she made what felt like the slowest turn I’d ever experienced). I made a mental note to always keep my speed low as I descended that hill.
It seems some drivers have difficulty judging distance and trajectory. Drivers tend to think they are fast enough to clear bikers in time. They don’t consider that motorcycles often don’t have the traction, braking power or rider comfort to stop as quickly as cars.
During the rider’s training course they make new motorcyclists learn all the things people in cars are prone to do while on the road. They speak at length about being cautious of our surroundings. I wonder why the same isn’t done for car drivers. It’s evident to me they ought to learn about motorcycles and the habits/behaviors of bikers on the roadways. What do you think?
Stay safe in these streets!
Image courtesy of Biser3A.com