What If

Jun 06, 2012 View Comments by

I saw in the April ’12 issue of RoadRUNNER that Illinois passed a law enabling motorcyclists to legally run red lights if the sensor doesn’t detect their bike in a reasonable amount of time. Whew! My worst nightmare won’t come true, at least in Illinois now. I regularly wake up in a cold sweat from a nightmare where I’m stuck at an endless red light, delirious from dehydration and struggling to hold the bike up with a cacophony of car horns blaring behind me.

Although the law is welcome and should be nationwide, I find it curious that a substantial amount of time, effort, and money was undoubtedly spent to address a common sense problem we all deal with on occasion. I can’t believe people actually receive a ticket for running a never-changing red light, but I suppose that it does happen sometimes. What do they expect us to do?

While guiding a RoadRUNNER tour a couple of years ago in Virginia, to my knowledge at least, we all had to run a red light at a “T” intersection while leaving Staunton. I’m glad I didn’t have to explain that one to the folks with the festive lighting on their car roofs. “Well officer, I was just trying to get my gang in the proper mood to pillage by running a few red lights, any way you could let us off with just a warning this time around?”

Fact is, the unique attributes of motorcycles (dual sport bikes in particular) beg for a different set of rules than our four-wheeled brethren. While on the subject of special provisions for motorcycles, here’s the short list of my requests.

Say you’re stuck in traffic with an important meeting in 10 minutes, and there’s no way you’ll get there unless you jump the curb and ride down the empty sidewalk. What’s the harm in that? Plenty of room for the bike, and if you meet someone walking, simply pull over and let them pass. Problem solved, and you make the meeting on time. Improve traffic flow and decrease frustration at the same time. A sure win-win if I ever saw one.

Or how about avoiding those annoying (and dangerous) maze-like parking lot intersections they’re so fond of designing by riding through the grassy areas between the lots? Again, why not? The bike can’t do any more harm than a riding mower, can it? (Actually it can, but the lawmakers don’t have to know).

I realize I’m probably pushing my luck on the next ones, but the “what if” question does cross my mind regularly while riding. Like, “What if I rode up the steps in front of my old high school?” or “What if I rode my bike off of that loading dock at the vacant factory?” or “What if I sharpen my log-crossing skills on those concrete parking space bumpers?”

Come to think of it, I should probably just be thankful for the red light law and let it go at that. And by the way, I’ve never done any of the above. OK, maybe I did ride over a few parking space bumpers on my KLR, but that’s all I’ll admit to.

Tags: , Categories: Outside the Lines