October 05, 2013

Thoughts on the Hollywood Stuntz Fiasco

The idea for this post came from a combination of events. The first was the news coverage of the incident that took place between Alexian Lien and the riders of Hollywood Stuntz; the second was the new and unusual (to me) behavior of drivers of several cars with whom I was sharing the road while on my motorcycle.

I ride a sport bike. But I’m not one of “those” riders. You know, the obnoxious ones who are on a power trip and deliberately intimidate everyone around them? I’ve never even met one of “those” riders. In fact, if I were in a bike gang, it would be about as wild as a gradma’s version of the Wild Hogs  (yep, I’m a middle-aged dork and quite happy about it).

In my experience, most motorcycle riders are decent people who want to enjoy being on their bikes, and they actively avoid crashing or causing someone else to crash. I mean, there’s no way around the laws of physics, and if you attempt to violate those laws on a bike, you’re going to get hurt, right? As seen in countless video clips of disastrously ending bike stunts in the news and on the aptly named show Dumbest Stuff on Wheels.

I’m saddened that to some people, who may have heard of or personally interacted with “those” bikers, it’s impossible to see the difference between a grandma on a motorcycle and a hooligan on a motorcycle (granted, when I’m on my bike, there’s not much to indicate there’s a polite little grandmother underneath all the protective gear). That point was made clear to me just after the news story went viral. Prior to that, car drivers drove normally around me; and if I came up behind one that was traveling a bit slow, I’d wait for a safe spot to pass and then pass it. But the last few days, the moment I near a car from behind, the driver will immediately signal to the right and then slow even more and pull half onto the shoulder in an effort to let me by.

Maybe some bikers would like that.

I don’t.

I don’t like the idea that people fear for their safety in the presence of any biker (especially me!) because of the widely publicized actions of a group of criminals (a lot of the riders involved in the news story, including the one who was hurt so badly, have criminal records and extensive histories of traffic violations). Bikers are not all like that. No more than car drivers are (and really, most bikers are also car drivers, especially in places that have winter or even rain).

It’s so sad that we tend to stereotype people. I don’t know that there’s a way to fix that. But maybe this post will help someone out there stop feeling unnecessarily afraid of perfectly nice people who are happy to share the road with everyone equally.

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