Despite motorcycle rider numbers growing faster than any other road segment, we still seem to be public enemy number one in the eyes of the police, politicians and many members of the public.
It probably goes back to the days of Hollister, The Wild One and Easy Rider. They were rebels and freedom lovers, and god knows the public hates people who don’t conform.
But there’s a lot of things riders do today that may still make us outlaws in the public’s eyes.
That might be fine by many riders, but don’t whinge when the road and safety planners ignore you, or when the politicians slug you with extra fees and/or fewer services, or when the police harass and target you.
Why riders may still be public enemy number 1:
Pack riding: Some riders love riding in groups, but be aware that you could be creating a danger to other traffic. If you ride too slow you are worse than caravans and trucks to pass. If you are riding too fast, you may be intimidating to other traffic.
Intimidating rider gear: A leather race suit with a tinted visor makes you safe, but to the public you look like Judge Dredd, Robocop or Darth Vader. You might be on your way to a toy run, but to the public you could be any sort of villain or terrorist under that outfit. Try giving a wave! Or how about dressing up to look like outlaws? Are you really an outlaw? It’s a free country and you can wear what you like, but don’t complain if you are run off the road because you looked intimidating to a young family in their SUV.
Skull face masks: This could have been included in the previous point, but we think it requires a whole separate section. Are you going to a Halloween party, or just trying to scare little kiddies?
Hooning: We’re talking about excessive speeding, wheelies, stoppies, burnouts, etc. Join a stunt club or go to a track day to get your knee down. Don’t do it around the town roundabout! It looks dangerous and, if you come unstuck, don’t expect help from the public – expect laughter. You guys also make us public enemy number one on the insurance risk hit list! That’s why our premiums are so high.
5. Rude overtaking. By all means use your superior acceleration to overtake slow-moving vehicles, but don’t tailgate for several kilometres, whizz past just inches from their wing mirror, then cut in right on their front bumper. Perhaps give them a short flash of the lights or a quick horn beep to tell them you want to pass and when you do, give them room and perhaps a thank-you wave once past.
6. Loud pipes scare people: You might believe loud pipes save lives and we won’t go into why that’s a proven furphy. However, we will say that loud pipes do annoy the public. I love the sound of a nice exhaust as it goes past for a few seconds. It’s far less offensive than incessant leaf blowers! However, loud pipes in traffic can cause a sudden fright to drivers who may flinch and jerk the wheel. They won’t hear you coming until it’s too late, anyway.
7. Speeding through towns: Have some respect for local communities. Don’t speed through their towns. You wouldn’t want people speeding up your street where your children play.
8. Over-revving your bike: It’s fun in a tunnel or in a mountain cutting, but it’s plain anti-social in built-up areas or in rural areas where there is livestock. We’ve seen horses startled into running into barbed-wire fences by riders revving their bikes. If you see people riding horses on the side of the road, pull in your clutch and roll past quietly.
9. Long warm-ups: It’s highly rude to warm up your bike for several minutes on a Sunday morning when everyone else is sleeping in or at a cafe where the fumes get in everyone’s lattes and carrot cake. It’s also pointless if you have an EFI engine. They are made to start and go with little warming up.
10. Lane filtering: Motorists simply see it as jumping the queue. We don’t suggest you stop filtering, but we do suggest exercising some caution and courtesy. There is no chance to explain it’s actually good for all motorists, but at least give people a nod or wave as you ride past. When the lights turn green, make sure you get away quickly. Don’t stall or hold up the traffic on your 50cc scooter!
Let’s all make an effort to be a little less anti-social this Christmas. Consider other road users and passersby. Wave, especially at kids.
And if you’re not wearing a silly soul face mask or a Judge Dredd full-face helmet with a tinted visor, smile!
But it’s probably too much to expect to ever be taken off the public enemy number one position.