The Road Hog
Norther Rider /
Date: Mar 15, 2005 - 12:51 AM
The Road Hog|
In light of the recent rash of motorcycle fatalities I’ve decided to share this story in hopes that I may raise some awareness.
After touring most of the continent I am very accustomed to being pulled over when passing through small town America. Although it doesn’t occur so much in the summer, in the off season I have often been tag teamed by various law enforcement agencies. Usually they just want to know who is on their turf. Most are even friendly about it but I do recall this one sheriff in Kansas who showed me the quickest way out of his state. Two years ago in I woke up a sleeping officer with my pipes who chased me down the road and ranted on about me going thru a yellow/red light. When he asked me what it was, I calmly replied, “Whatever you say it was”. That was all he needed to continue his rant, but after seeing another cruiser go down the road with lights flashing, he decided that he had better things to do and returned my paperwork. Before departing he actually told me, I better not catch you in my town again.
One sunny day a few weeks ago, I had just passed small town Alberta, when I noticed a RCMP cruiser heading my way. Having ridden a Harley for many years I’m never surprised when pulled over for no apparent reason. Today was no different. After we passed on the roadway I checked my mirror to see the cruiser pull a u-turn, hit the flashing lights and quickly close the distance between us.
I will say at this time that the officer remained cool but polite throughout the conversation. The standard questions followed. Where are you headed? Where are you from and so on? He then went on to inform me that a complaint had been called in regarding the speed I was traveling and the fact that I had forced a car over to the shoulder. Mystified as I was I asked him if he was sure he had the right bike. Oh yes, he explained, the caller made mention of the out of state plate and its origin. He further informed me that the caller in question said I had passed on a solid line, was going between 140 – 150 kph, and they still managed to take note of the foreign plate. Truly amazing.
They also said that because of my unsafe passing, I forced a lady coming the other way off to the shoulder. Furthermore the officer informed me that the caller was willing to attend court. I produced the appropriate paperwork and the officer retired to his cruiser. As I watched him on his cell phone (must have been speaking with the caller) a second cruiser pulled up and this officer conferred with the first before returning to his cruiser to simply sit there. When the officer returned to my bike with paperwork in hand I jokingly added “That sure was a long time to write a warning ticket”. Again he mentioned the caller but told me that he was only going to give me a ticket for doing 119 kph in a 100 kph zone, such generosity, seeing that I was traveling behind two vehicles when I noticed him coming and made a point of maintaining a speed of 110 kph from then til he pulled me over. Basically I thought at that speed I was safe. He had also put on his lights as soon as he turned so I found it difficult to see how he could have clocked or caught me on radar at any speed (especially with two large flat targets for his radar to find before my small bike.
I informed him that I write occasionally and presented him with a free copy of the latest issues featuring my writing. I explained to him that I do not pass on solid lines as I feel they are there for our safety. I further went on to explain that in fact I do hug the center line for a variety of reasons. First, you are more visible to the vehicle in front of you. Second, by hugging the center of the road, I know when cars coming my way see me. They should move over a few inches out of basic survival instinct, if they don’t move than they are day dreaming or whatever it is they do instead of paying attention to the road. Quite often I will be leading a group of bikes and this style of riding helps protect everybody.
My next point was that after waiting for an opportunity to pass, most motorcyclists will do it quickly. The rule of thumb is you should pass within five seconds, or you are taking too long Finally I mentioned that possibly the operator of the vehicle I was supposed to have pushed off the road was gabbing on the phone. So may not have been paying the attention they should have been and got a start when they suddenly noticed for the first time, a large black motorcycle encroaching on their space. Obviously the caller was on a cell phone as they were driving given the fact that the RCMP was able to attend this serious call within minutes.
Usually I would have pictures to go with this story but after receiving the ticket I politely asked the officer if he would pose in a picture for me. He didn’t think that was a good idea. In fact, he forbade me to take any pictures at all. Talk about ‘police state’. I made mention that I had pictures of law enforcement officers from all over the continent. They are all available for viewing at www.harleydavidsonman.com .
This seemed to have no effect on the officer and he further explained to me that although he appreciated the magazine, I was not going to take any pictures of the two cruisers sitting with lights flashing, he had no way of knowing where they would end up. The manner in which he said this left me with the impression that he meant outlaw bikers, not a magazine or newspaper. Who can blame him though, I mean, I was riding a Harley, right?
I briefly considered furthering my cause but seeing that the officers had me out numbered two to one, and they had guns, I decided to keep my thoughts and camera to my self. Of course, if I had been thinking, I would have shot first and asked questions later.
As I was putting my paperwork away I bent over (way over), to view my license plate, which is tucked under the luggage rack. Straightening up, the thought crossed my mind as to how a vehicle that I had allegedly passed so quickly and dangerously, yet the caller was still able to identify the origin of my plate. I personally find that extremely difficult to fathom but it must be because cops don’t lie, do they? The people of Alberta should sleep well at night knowing how quickly their police force responds to complaints on the road, and with such force. Unfortunately I think that the response may not have been so quick if I had been in a car or even on a Japanese style bike. Maybe they thought I was a lone outlaw biker and one gun wouldn’t be enough.
Normally I would let this slide but with the recent head on collision involving motorcycles I felt compiled to write this letter. I felt that if I could raise the awareness of travelers, both on two wheels and four, maybe I can save a life down the road. If you are riding two wheels you always have to be aware of your surroundings because in any collision; you lose. Even experienced riders take a couple weeks to get in the groove. If you are in a cage, for God’s sake, get off the phone or spend fifty dollars to purchase hands–free set up. It is amazing how many people talk constantly on the phone while driving. If the police want something to crack down on, that would be my first choice.
Just yesterday I had a small truck with tinted windows jump in front of me and belch a cloud of black smoke trying to pick up speed to pass. When I pulled up beside the truck I saw a teenage girl with her left arm casually resting on the door and a phone in her ear. Looking over I visualized this girl sitting in her room gabbing on the phone and could not help feeling that was where she belonged. I waited til she finally took notice of me and sadly shook my head. She was totally indifferent to the collision she could have easily caused. Many people briefly check their mirrors for large objects and change lanes without really looking. I’m not writing this to whine or bitch but hopefully save a life down the road. We reintroduce motorcycles every year at this time and we all have to be more aware, not only on our roads, but on the farms, in the playgrounds, on the water, and where ever mechanical equipment comes into play.
This article comes from HarleyDavidsonMan.com
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