First off, this post could be disagreeable to both car drivers and motorcyclists alike, so please hear me out first. I have spent a lot of time writing about motorcycles and how to stay alive as a biker, but I know many bikers won’t bother until they get into situations where they truly understand the risk.. or maybe it might be too late by then.
This week, apart from the awful haze from Indonesia, a lot of Singaporeans were stunned by the news of a young 25-year-old Ducati rider who was killed by a big truck on the Pan Island Expressway at the Kallang area. The accident was grisly and bikers pleaded with others on Facebook not to distribute graphic photos of the accident.
The 50-year-old driver of the truck was arrested and many keyboard warriors assumed it was his reckless driving that killed the biker.
It wasn’t until a few days later that someone posted an in-car rear camera video of what actually happened. I felt very sad when I watched this video today:
The 43-year-old lady driver of the SUV was arrested and then the online barrage turned to blaming her driving instead or telling bikers that motorcycles are dangerous, lane-splitting should be banned and so on.
It was a very tragic incident and the one good thing that came out of the video was that the innocent truck driver was exonerated.
I’m not here to say who is wrong or right, and who knows what I would have done if I were either the driver or the biker at that very moment. But I’m here to say the following things that I’ve written here before and the same risk factors always keep cropping up when motorcycles crash.
Everyone involved is in pain. You’re not.
Nobody gets into a car or onto a motorcycle each day hoping to kill someone on the road or to die.
To those blaming the female driver, did you ask if she could see the biker or was it a blind spot he was in? How would you feel if you accidentally knocked someone down? What would you say if it turned out you didn’t see this coming, you just wanted to change lane into an empty slot, and now you might have to go to jail and have nightmares for the rest of your life?
To those who were quick to blame the truck driver at first, how do you feel now? Can you imagine the anguish he has been through, even though he was innocent? Does he still have a job?
I have my thoughts on what the biker should have done, but who am I to say? How can he defend his actions now that he’s gone?
The only thing that cannot be denied, is the suffering inflicted on all parties due to one accident.
Lane 1 on expressways is a danger zone. Just stay away.
I don’t get it. I see so many small bikes and P-plate bikes chiong-ing the rightmost Lane 1 at high speed. Recently, I even saw a P-plate rider making hand signals at another car (trying to pick a fight) while the rider was on Lane 1.
Even in the comfort of my car, I try to use Lane 1 sparingly to overtake vehicles and quickly change lanes back to the center lane. Yes, it’s slower on other lanes, but I’m not in a hurry to crash either.
My internal alarm bells ring incessantly every time I’m on Lane 1 because I don’t know which driver in front is going to suddenly slam the brakes and create yet another pile-up.
I’ve been driving and riding for 20 years and the fear factor has actually increased over time because the standards of driving/riding here are so low. What’s more, the roads are congested in SG, so drivers tend to drive too close to each other.
Everyone in Lane 1 simply exposes himself to much risk.
We bikers are 100% responsible for our own safety. Everyone else who doesn’t ride should stop preaching.
Lane-splitting is not illegal in Singapore or in many countries. It reduces congestion and allows bikers to cut through any jam efficiently. But it is also high-risk and is always dangerous except when the cars are packed together and not able to quickly change lanes.
If traffic is tight and you see an empty space the size of a car lot that you want to filter into, you can be sure there’s another driver who wants to do the same. The car will always win vs the bike.
Bikers, riding in SG requires us to keep a safe distance from moving cars and trucks as much as possible. Before any lane-change maneuver, evaluate the other cars’ behavior for few seconds, make a quick pass and accelerate on.
Remember most car drivers DON’T look out for lane-splitters and you don’t really know if they can actually see you due to the blind spots. Know how exactly much torque your bike has in each gear so you can accurately apply power to get out of tight spots, or just slow down and give way.
And here’s the illustration again on blind spots, you can be close to the car, but the driver may not even see you at all.
And for the rest of the world, please stop telling us to stop riding or to ban this and that. Many bikers ride because they can’t afford a $100K car in Singapore. I ride because I like to save petrol, parking fees and ERP fees. It’s more practical to say we should ban lousy car drivers who have poor driving skills since cars kill more than bikes, but who says that right?
We bikers know the risks, we accept the risks and the more sensible bikers mitigate the risks with careful riding, body armor and full-on road awareness. I don’t speak for the irresponsible riders or drivers out there, I do my best to be a good road user and avoid the reckless ones.
Stay safe, fellow drivers and riders. RIP, fellow Ducati rider.