Mar 12, 2014

Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

The headline reads, "Two killed, bus driver injured in crash; another cyclist saw it all happen." My first thought was, what kind of moron would run into a school bus? It’s not like school buses make quick moves. It’s not like a reasonably skilled rider would expect a school bus driver to be watching out for the 0.001% of traffic that motorcycles account for. It’s not like a school bus is hard to see, anticipate, or that busses aren’t well-known causes for dumbass motorcyclists’ deaths. When I read the comments to this article, I realized that most motorcyclists are not fit to be on two-wheeled anything:

  • Justin: “Bikes dnt just run into busses really not 2 bikers at same time bus must of pulled out in front of them”
  • Jane Jud-Almstedt, "AMEN brother!!!!"
  • Robbie Keeling, "Number one cause of death to riders is cars turning in front of them,,,not stunting..thay had a family and due to being able to hide behing a computer people put dumb comments…Karma to yall.."
  • Martha Turner, "There needs to be a more of a watched over the bus drivers in Missouri. There seems to be a problem with some of the bus drivers with an aditude of watch out for me I’m driving a school bus. People don’t pay attention to motorcycler. They have the same rights on the road as any other vehicle."
  • Jane Jud-Almstedt, again, "Please pay attention….We are everywhere. Don’t fault bikers for accidents, yes, there are some that aren’t safe out there, but majority of us are just fathers, sons, daughters, mothers, grandparents, that enjoy the beauty of a ride on a beautiful day. Bikers are employees, students, retirees and people to have around when you need assistance, to raise funds, and just to know. OPEN YOUR EYES!!!!!! May the Lord our God surround all those families involved and comfort them in the hours, days, weeks, months and years to come."
  • Livedtotell, "You can clearly seeby the damage to the left side of the bus that the driver made a left-hand turn directly in the path of the bikers. I walked away from an accident just like this that totaled my bike and luckily left me with only torn clothes and a (still) messed up shoulder."
  • Lory, "My heart breaks, I got my bike out due to the beautiful weather, wouldn’t start. My heart breaks for their families and loved ones."
  • cc, “The article states the accident happened around
    640am. The sun is not completely up at that time. It is obvious from the pictures that the bus pulled out in front of the bikes. If the bikes were side by side in their lane, their headlights may have appeared to be a car to the bus driver, and at times turn signals have to be manually cancelled on a bike. That said, it was clearly not safe for the bus to go, and 2 bikers have died. I agree with previous posters that say bus drivers drive like they own the road. Common sense could have prevented this tragedy.”

Clearly, this crap is from the “Loud Pipes Save Unskilled and Disabled Lives” crowd.  There are, in fact, a few motorcyclists’ comments that implied any competent motorcyclist should have been able to anticipate and avoid a freakin’ school bus. The overwhelming majority appears to believe the world owes them the constant attention they were deprived of as small children (and probably aren’t getting as large children, either). I have advocated dramatically tougher motorcycle licensing testing for most of my life. Now, I’m convinced that an IQ test should be the first thing a motorcyclist needs to “pass.”


  1. My response to the comment thread, posted a few minutes ago:

    I am a motorcyclist. When it's warm enough (up above about 50 degrees degrees in the spring, down to about 40 in the fall) I have mostly commuted by motorcycle for the past five or six years.

    Yes, it's sad that these people died. And I agree that the bus driver likely bears some of the fault, perhaps all of it in a legal sense. But let's be honest here. When you or I get on a motorcycle, we're accepting risk. We're accepting the fact that people in automobiles won't see us. There's actually a good scientific reason for that: if a human is looking for one particular shape, they're likely to not notice a very different shape, and we don't make up a high enough percentage of traffic for people to focus on seeing us.

    Now: it's likely that the bus driver pulled out when she shouldn't have. It happens pretty regularly. But guys... it's a friggin school bus. It's a giant yellow/orange brick. They accelerate like bricks, too, especially uphill, which it looks like the driveway for that bus depot is. How the heck did these riders NOT NOTICE that it was pulling out? How fast were they going that they weren't able to stop? How badly trained were they that they weren't able to stop?

    Yes, drivers should be more attentive and see us. I'm not arguing that. But if you're going to take up riding, you need to take responsibility for yourself. If I someday plow into the side of a school bus, I hope no one blames the bus driver until it's been proven to be his or her fault. Because frankly, a motorcycle stops faster, turns sharper, and can react sooner than any four wheeled vehicle, and we as riders should know we're basically invisible. If we're not leaving enough room to respond or we're riding outside our capabilities, it's our own damn fault, regardless of who the law says is responsible.

  2. I agree with you Geezer, and well said to Andy for his response in the comment above too.

    Yep, IQ tests would help a lot. Well, either that or they'd be riding with no license. Sigh.

  3. Obviously, I'm with both of you. A school bus driver has plenty to think about without having to worry about microscopic motorcycles in his blind spot. We're the ones with the clear view of traffic and with the maneuverability. I can't imagine how this would be considered the bus driver's fault. Might as well convict us all for the mosquitoes we've squashed on our visors.

  4. Yup. Like I said, the bus driver may be found to be legally "at fault" for the accident: we don't know what happened, and she could have come up the road at full speed and not even looked. Maybe she snapped after spending years ferrying busloads of kids around. I know I'd last about 25 minutes in that job.

    But morally, for lack of a better word, we have to be responsible for ourselves. I can't easily imagine a realistic situation in which the bus could have gotten that far into the intersection without the riders having time to stop safely, or, at an absolute minimum, slow down to a point where the accident was non-fatal. Well... assuming they knew what they were doing and knew HOW to stop safely.

  5. I would hope to never assume a bus driver saw me in good light conditions. They are simply too busy to worry about tiny little motorcycles. Even an empty bus is infinitely harder to maneuver than a bike. If they managed to hit a bus back of the bus's front wheel and injure the driver and punch a couple of feet into the bus chassis, how fast do you figure they were going? I can't quite figure out the accident scene: 1) the bus was hit on the left (driver's) side, 2) the bikes are lying about 100' past the impact point. Did they fly over the bus after hitting it? It looks like there was a school parking lot right at the intersection, so I'd assume the speed limit for that area would be pretty low. The bus might have pulled out in front of them, but they might have been 1/2 mile away when he started into the intersection and he underestimated their speed (which might have been pretty damn high). My sympathy is going to stay with the bus driver (and the riders' families) unless there is some pretty amazing crash description that changes it.


Disagree? Bring it on. Have more to add? Feel free to set me straight. Unfortunately, Blogger doesn't do a great job of figuring out which Anonymous commenters are actually real people, not Russians or Chinese bots. I'm pretty ruthless about spam-labeling anonymous posts. If you have something worth saying, you shouldn't be afraid of using your ID.