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Motorcycle Hate Crimes

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I’ve been riding a very long time.  And I ride a lot.  Additionally, I ride motorcycles coast-to-coast, up and down, and all over North America and I look forward to riding throughout most of the other continents in the world.  (Undecided on Antarctica at this point).


The good news is that, in my experience, Motorcycle Hate Crimes comprise a very, very small percentage of my experiences on and off the road.

The bad news is that it only takes “one” such incident to result in an unfriendly ending for a biker.

Motorcycle Hate Crimes occur when a perpetrator targets a motorcyclist for no other reason that he/she rides a motorbike.

Although Motorcycle Hate Crimes could potentially include damage to one’s bike (when it’s parked), bullying, harassment, verbal abuse or insults, discourteous (or reckless) driving habits that target a rider, or even involve physical assault of a rider, it’s the last two that are the most relevant in terms of motorcycle survival and enjoying riding for many years to come.

It seems odd to mention some of these items, when popular media features the very tiny percent of the time bikers may be harming others, or more specifically, harming each other via outlaw, inter-gang fighting.  The reality is that the vast majority of motorcycle riders are not part of that culture.  They simply enjoy motorcycles and riding.  But when a truck driver goes out of the way to run such a person off the road, that constitutes a threat to one’s continued existence.

Although I have had that occur to me, I should also state that when it comes to long-distance highway riding, I would rather be on the road with lots of truck drivers than the same amount of typical drivers in an SUV.  Professional truck drivers are prone to human errors like the rest of us, but in my experience, they are the most courteous and certainly the most experienced motorists out there.


So, how do you differentiate a Motorcycle Hate Crime from mere incompetence and/or inattentiveness from a driver?

Perhaps most of the time one cannot readily tell the difference.

However, in the example above, if someone deliberately and suddenly moves into your lane, when you are just forward of their vehicle, and you are clearly in their line of site, there exists a higher likelihood that the event was not simply inattentiveness.

On the opposite end of the Motorcycle Hate Crime spectrum, I recall an incident when I got a flat tire in the rural Deep South and managed to limp my motorcycle into the only gas station, or commercial entity of any sort, within miles. There were no motorists or other visitors at this gas station (which, by the way, looked rundown enough that I was uncertain it was actually an operating business). 

Anyway, I walked into the office and there was a guy with feet on the desk who would not look at me or talk to me or even acknowledge my presence. 

Had it not been for my persistence in inquiring about the location of an air compressor, I may never have inspired a slight hand gesture from this guy pointing towards the service bay, which further surprised me to find another human being quietly poking around under some car’s hood. 

Arguably, the guy may have been so blatantly resentful of my presence because of other reasons, but certainly, it was clear that I was a motorcyclist a long way from home.  Regardless, even if it was a Motorcycle Hate Crime, who cares?  Nothing was harmed.

As a rider, the only true threat is from some other motorist who is attempting to harm you because you are on a motorcycle.  And when it comes down to the nitty gritty, a rider is more likely to be injured by inattentive drivers pulling into your right of way than someone deliberately out to get you.


So what’s the solution?

In my opinion, there are three principle points of defense:

  1. Being a highly-alert ghost rider
  2. Wearing protective gear
  3. Safety training and gaining real-world experience


A rider who presumes he/she is an invisible ghost gliding through traffic has to be HIGHLY ALERT to the fact that someone is going to cut him/her off because THEY CAN”T SEE YOU.  In other words, by always presuming other drivers don’t know you’re there you are forced to take more responsibility for where you are and what your are doing at all times.  This can also help you respond instantly and intelligently to avoid a physical encounter, or at best diminish it as much as possible, because you are already expecting it.


Attendant to that, wearing fully protective motorcycle gear can make a big difference when things turn ugly (good gear has saved my life more than once while getting slammed to the ground after a mishap).


There is no substitute for experience.  The more miles you get under your belt, particularly miles that are gained with good riding habits, the more confident you will be in stressful circumstances.  In addition, professional motorcycle training can help ensure that your riding habits are geared towards bolstering your long-term survival.

Regardless of whether or not you ever are on the receiving end of a Motorcycle Hate Crime, it won’t take too long before you ARE on the receiving end of a motorcycle safety threat due to careless and/or inattentive drivers.  It’s up to you to be prepared.



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