Everyday day on my ride to work I get honked at
Keep honking because I’m not going to stop passing through stalled traffic. I’m not the one making you sit in traffic and I have room to squeeze by, so I will.
I understand why you’re frustrated. I’m bouncing to the rhythm of the music playing in my helmet as I coast by, while you are stuck behind the idiot who keeps riding their brakes. The area I coasted my three foot wide bike through was only seven feet wide. A slim visible, but seemingly impassable, area that you, and the guy, also riding his brakes while watching YouTube, one lane over, made just for me.
Commence road raging
The thing is you don’t own that road, not one single piece of it, not even that little gap I used. We are supposed to share it in a safe manner, which I did. I used a a hand signal, you may not have recognize it though, and then I cruised on by unscathed.
Here’s the problem and the reason for your frustration with me and the traffic congestion your facing, our lack of driver education. This lack of education is why we get a bunch of clueless drivers not following basic traffic laws and causing traffic congestion, especially here in Dallas. We get jacked up trucks slowing the left lane. Camrys riding slowly in the turn lanes but never turning. We get people mad at motorcyclists who zip by through the spaces the driver can’t see from their vantage point. We get jerks riding their brakes because the road is wet from someone using their windshield washers or simply because they see other cars. These are some of the reasons for the unnecessary traffic congestion you face each day and they all stem from a lack of driver education.
I’d blame civil engineers but the have a lot of computing power behind roadway design and they can analyze traffic pretty dang well. We all like to blame the construction, but truthfully it’s because your fellow commuter sucks. Not only is their vehicle taking up an unnecessary amount of space, any car used to transport only one person is overkill, but they can’t find the accelerator, can’t merge, and they’re dry humping the hell out of their brakes with their foot.
As for your frustration with me, think about this: my average speed to work on my bike is around 65 mph, while in a car it’s around 30 mph. How on earth could I keep that speed and also be the one slowing down traffic. I’m not. I’m moving past with ease and gone in seconds out of the gridlock you’re seeing before you. I’m one less heavy over sized cage rolling slowly down the freeway for one solitary person. You should really be grateful that I didn’t add another road raging SUV to the mix.
You are not alone, I would put money down that most drivers aren’t aware that motorcycles and scooters have a significant impact on reducing traffic congestion. I’d bet most think motorcycles are making it worse. Luckily there are some pretty smart people studying this kind of thing so we can check out data driven results and confirm our suspicions.
Motorcyclists Reduce Congestion
Denmark recently produced a study, the details of which can be found here, that showed that a 10% switch in commuters using motorcycles instead of cars, resulted in a 40% reduction in traffic congestion. I don’t think that Denmark has some alternate universe and laws of physics at play here as compared to America. Therefore, the impact to traffic congestion should hold true in America as it does in Denmark. Except there is one difference, Denmark educates its drivers so that they know how to share the road.
More Motorcyclists + Educated Drivers = Better Commute for All
Let’s compare Denmark and California (known for strict laws) and compare how they handle driver education. These excerpts have been taken directly from their websites.
Seven hours of traffic related first aid lessons
28 theory lessons (min 45 minutes each)
Four practical maneuver lessons on a track (min 45 minutes each)
16 driving lessons in traffic (min 45 minutes each)
Four lessons on an advanced slippery track (min 45 minutes each)
Complete a Driver License or Identification Card Application (Form DL 44).
Provide proof of your identity.
Pay the $33 driver’s license fee.
Pass the written test.
Pass the road test.
From this comparison we can see that a driver in Denmark does through around 60 hours of training which consists of classroom, road, track, and hazardous track conditions and even first aid. If I was ever to crash I would hope to be in Denmark. First, I bet their insurance rates kick butt and second, every driver can provide first aid.
Then we have California, our beacon of a legal system in the U.S. In California, a driver takes a single test on the road and a single test in writing. Then they’re out the door to possibly kill someone with their legal death machine. Getting your license in California is by far more about satisfying the bureaucracy than it is being a safe driver
The reason I bring this up is that if you compare the mindset of a Danish driver to a driver in California, you would find a driver in Denmark more willing to share the road. The Danish understand that motorcycles reduce traffic congestion. You find less incidents of road rage and aggressive behavior, and it isn’t because their sissies. They’re more educated than us in driving, plain and simple.
I think the best immediate solution is for drivers to calm down. For long term success, we should require more driver education, such as that required in Denmark. Imagine a world where slow traffic actually stayed to the right, where people knew how to merge, where turn signals were used. We would all benefit from less traffic congestion, less road rage, and lower insurance costs. We’d also probably have less drivers, as some opt for bicycles and public transport, instead of the 60 hours of course work because let’s face it, people are lazy.