I know this is a little late in the day but I want to post a reaction to the article of Erle and the subsequent reader reactions.
Perhaps if the readers would go past the first, rather ambiguous, and consequently irresponsible statement "I HATE BIKE RIDERS" then perhaps those two wheeled fans, myself included ( though i am more cyclist than motorcyclist) , would see that there is a ctually, quite A LOT of truth in this article.
For instance, from the comments on this forum as well as the letters to the editor, it is quite obvious that a good number of motorcyclists feel that the rules of the road do not apply to them. Those laws were put up to protect everyone, from pedestrians, motorcycle riders even the bus driver. Can the motorcyclists on this forum consider how many riders do they know, who actually FOLLOW the traffic rules ? And can they fathom how the other law abiding citizens must feel when they see a lot of these riders break laws with impunity?
And does one need to run a statistical study to see how rampant this behavior goes? I drive from Batasan to Makati and I can tell you that the disciplined motorcyle rider is a rare commodity. Commonwealth road and Congressional are places where one will literally see utter disrespect for laws. Only the jaded and biased among us will be blind to this.
BUT if it were only breaking a few rules now and then, it would not be enough to cause a furor, much like Erle's tirade. The problem is, in a good number of cases, the behavior can harm, maim or even kill innocent people. If all they would do is just harm themselves, then I would have no argument with that. But when they go on sidewalks, enter one way roads, run at dangerously high speeds in narrow quarters where INNOCENT people, even children are put in harms way , then I draw the line there.
Just to give an example, in Katipunan in front of Ateneo, the signs SPECIFICALLY prohibit two wheeled vehicles from the sidewalk.... students , kids at that, are usually there, believeing that the sidewalk is a a safe place for them. Commonsense dictates that sidewalks are for pedestrians. But whenever there is traffic on Katipunan, a lot of motorcycles resort to running on the sidewalk forcing people to MAKE WAY for them. Aside from the obvious danger to the kids, what kind of message could these people be sending to them ? These kids can read signs so do they want these kids, some of them future leaders of our country, to believe that rules are made to be broken? And that they should stand aside for these lawbreakers?? On this same road and in Commonwealth, riders insist on passing between the vehicle and sidewalk. Is it so hard to understand that just because the space is as wide as your handlebars, it does not follow that you can just careen into that space with utter disregard for people who have the RIGHT to be there and THEY DONT? People are not supposed to watching out for these riders in places where they are not supposed be. I wonder, do these irresponsible riders ever stop to think about what they would do if they knocked down a child to the pavement, hitting their head and getting killed? OR if their own kids or loved ones got maimed or killed by other irresponsible riders? After all they are not the only bad riders there and when they do such things, they better be ready for other people doing the same.
To further my case and to show what that kind of behavior can spawn, I ride on the trails of Timberland San Mateo with my 11 year old son. We climb on the cement roads all the way to the dirt trails and on several occasions, he has been traumatized by some of the motorcycle riders who ride there. On so many occasions, we encountered these riders, really pouring on the power, on the narrow trails and on the long winding paved road going up. But when one rider on the trail, went too close, showering us with debris causing my son to suddenly veer to the side of the road in panic, THAT was it. From then on, I used to just drive up there in my car in a normal, just allowing the riders to careen up those slopes, but not anymore. Quite a number of riders there have now realized that cars can climb up and take those corners in as manic a manner and pace as they do. And that the very same car can do that on the trail too since its an SUV.
I admit, whenever I chance upon a motorcyclist speeding on or off the trail when I am in my car, I go and speed up myself, just to drive home the message that there ARE bigger guys on the road. If they can drive like that then SO CAN I. And they have only their fellow riders blame. But even then, I only go after the speeding ones, not the disciplined ones. Not like the rider who terrorized my son who was innocently pedalling along.
The truth is SOMEONE, somewhere ALWAYS carries a bigger stick so to speak. The reason why we are SUPPOSED to be a civilized society is we are governed by laws to keep us safe and keep us from harming each other. When irresponsible motorcycle riders tick off motorists in larger cars or buses, and therefore make them drive LIKE THEM, what do you think would be the end result? I am a biker too as I said, I also ride big bikes and it really irritates me that because of the behavior of irresponsible riders, I can definitely feel less respect from motorists.
That is why the article should serve as a wake up call to those responsible riders to police their ranks as we try to do in our bike clubs and car clubs. The motorcyle and more so the bicycle are methods of transportation that should be encouraged in these times. But unless discipline and safe riding becomes the rule, there WILL BE a large number of motorcyle riders who will be maimed , not by Erle, but by motorists who INSIST that their rights on the road be RESPECTED.
A great deal of the problems of this country can be solved if we, as citizens, just follow the rule of law AND INSIST that others do so. NO ONE SHOULD BE ABOVE THE LAW.
Finally, if I sound incensed by this topic, its because it really affects me when people behave as though they are exempt from laws. Because I have kids and loved ones whose safety and well being is affected by whether other people obey rules or not and I cannot always be around to protect them. So it is my hope that the more responsible readers will view the article not as a call to arms against Erle but as an impetus to police their ranks and educate their fellow riders so that we can all co-exist peacefully and HOPEFULLY bring two wheeled transports to its perfect role as SAFE and ECONOMICAL transportation for EVERYONE. Not as an instrument to indulge antisocial reckless behavior. The sooner they weed out the undisciplined and irresponsible among them, the sooner they can bring two wheels into the forefront of transportation which in the end will benefit everyone.