Last Thursday started off as just another ordinary day when he left home for work. He pulled his bike out of the garage and put his helmet and gloves on while saying goodbye to his wife and kids. A quick pat for his dog, and he left to join the rush-hour to Johannesburg.
Just another ordinary day as he joined the stream and made his way through standing traffic as he listened to his favourite music in his helmet. But what started as just an ordinary day ended abruptly as he momentarily lost concentration - possibly riding too fast through inattentive and irritated drivers trying to get ahead. and he was struck by a car and thrown under a moving vehicle. Not such an ordinary day after all - or was it?
Every day we read of a motorcyclist that has either been killed or seriously injured on his normal commute. And sadly, what should be isolated news too often becomes the norm as more bikes join traffic every day. This weekend, on my usual ride, I was passed at speed by a string of bikers - some with their 'agter-oppie's - that either couldn't care or were just so oblivious to their behaviour to give a damn.
Screaming past a stream of traffic coming to a particularly tight intersection, the hero of this bunch crossed the solid line into oncoming traffic before cutting through two lanes of stopping traffic to throw his heavy German machine into a 90 degree corner. This was followed by a stream of six bikes - each more manic than the previous, as they screamed through traffic up the hill, leaving drivers bewildered and less inclined to recognise myself and my riding buddy as they tried to recover. What was the point of these weekend warriors - some wearing club colours and cuts, and was it worth the arrogance and risk involved? The sad thing about these guys is that they aren't always the only victims of their own stupidity. Often, it is the behaviour of other road users that have been abused by such antics that lead to the death of otherwise innocent riders.
May has been Biker Awareness Month and the opportunity to raise awareness of bikers with motorists in general, but also for each of us to review and change our way of riding. While not for one moment judging the guy that died in the traffic last Thursday, bikers can either be the reason for change for the better in motorist behaviour - or the reason that we continue to lose our biker friends. The risk that we each take every day that we ride is disproportionate to that taken by our 'cager' friends, so we need to change and adapt to road and traffic conditions in order to survive out there.
By changing our riding style and becoming more risk averse, we are honouring the family and friends of our lost biker brothers and setting an example to other bikers and motorists across the country. There are very few old, bold riders and sadly the guy that started off on an ordinary day last week became just another statistic.
Very sad indeed.!