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A Balcony View: A lot riding on it

May 31, 2010|By Gary Huerta

I recently read that the Glendale Police Department stepped up enforcement of motorcycle laws, citing more than 20 people locally, as part of a statewide effort to reduce the number of rider deaths.

As a rider, I'm grateful our police department is making motorcycle safety a priority. That said, it would also serve us bikers if they cracked down on the automobile drivers who think their cars are mobile offices, diners and day-care facilities.

I commute to work and love my weekend rides. I log more than 250 miles per week on my bike. I ride from Glendale to El Segundo every day, crossing several parts of Los Angeles County in the process. Those who know me can attest to the fact that I have said on numerous occasions that, "No part of my ride terrifies more than Glendale." How much weight does that statement bear? I ride four freeways during rush-hour traffic, and when I don't ride the freeways, I go through Los Feliz, Hollywood, Koreatown, South Central L.A., Culver City, and ultimately El Segundo. Glendale scares me the most, because nowhere else do drivers seem to care less about the safety of those around them.

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When you sit on a motorcycle, you get a unique view of traffic and the drivers around you. Those who have never ridden have no idea what we see. As I ride, I constantly scan all around me, as I was taught in my motorcycle safety course. One thing I learned on my own was to look into the side-view mirrors of cars to see if drivers are paying attention to their surroundings or simply treating their time behind the wheel as an inconvenient distraction from their phone call, mascara application or jelly doughnut.

I don't hold automobile drivers responsible for the fate of us riders. I realize that a large number of motorcycle accidents occur as a result of rider error, particularly when it comes to speed and cornering. But for the most part, we riders are the most aware people on the highway. Why? Because we have no ability to sip lattes or apply aftershave while we ride. We don't have air bags, seat belts and thousands of pounds of reinforced steel surrounding us. Instead, we have helmets, jackets and thousands of pounds of reinforced steel coming right at us.

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