Watch for motorcyclists

A few years ago I was in Ticonderoga for a meeting, having scheduled it to be able to stay and go to my child’s track meet. (This was the first and only year my child ran track. Perhaps he knew that I would probably never attempt to go to another track meet.)

I approached a roundabout and saw a motorcyclist in front of my van. I then waited for the last car to move into the traffic circle and I put on the gas to make my turn. I will never forget the movement of a human jumping up in front of my windshield, seemingly out of nowhere. My first reaction was that I killed someone. I was frozen behind the wheel. The next second I was out of the car to be greeted by an angry young man who had rebuilt his machine and was taking it for its inaugural ride.

His first words stuck with me. “Didn’t you see me?” I said no. I actually didn’t. He had disappeared from my line of vision when I approached the traffic circle. I had not allowed enough room between his bike and my front bumper. He was invisible because I wasn’t looking for the motorcycle. I was looking straight ahead at the next car. He was not on my radar. It still brings a knot to my stomach thinking how different this all could have ended.

I spent a long time with this young man. There had been other accidents of various degrees and ours was not considered an emergency. The strange part was the person I hit was the one to soothe me. He was not injured, but his bike was damaged. My van didn’t even have a scratch. That was another lesson. I tapped him when he was at a standstill. What kind of damage would I have done if we’d been on a highway or on a different street? It was a lesson I look back on every time I’m in a car.

Friends of the gentleman kept stopping by to talk. Most of his friends had been in similar accidents and thankfully had also walked away unharmed. The lessons kept piling on. I learned about looking down. My van was too tall and his specialized motorcycle was low to the ground. He was not in my line of vision. I’d forgotten about him and his bike. I was told that most drivers aren’t trained to look for motorcyclists. It feels true.

I hope sharing this story will help someone else remember that motorcyclists are on the road. Make sure to leave enough room so the driver and bike always remain visible. I was also told the motorcyclists tend to become invisible at intersections, so “look twice” and be safe.

Diane Chase is the author of the “Adirondack Family Activities” guidebook series, “Adirondack Family Time: Your Four-Season Guide to Over 300 Activities.” For more family-friendly activities go to www.adirondackfamilytime.com.

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