Jul 4, 2007

Risk: how we blind ourselves

rearset or caughtilyaAs is rapidly becoming the normal course of events, the rains have arrived, Mumbai is up the creek in a leaky boat and no paddle; and we're slogging through all of that trying to meet deadlines. It is undeniably beautiful outside and yet, there is a new fear of the falling rain that I don't remember having felt before. But that's just a thought I wanted to toss up into the air and so I have.

Anyway, the other day I was riding home on the CBZ X-Treme with The Wife perched on the rear seat. It had been raining earlier, so the roads were wet and Mumbai looked shiny and quite pretty actually. We stopped at this traffic light and ahead of us was another couple on their Pulsar, clad in casuals, lidless, it goes without saying. I saw the chap pull out a bottle of water from somewhere, and take a long swig. Having emptied the bottle, he dropped the bottle with practiced ease and kicked it half-volleyed over a barrier into the deep hole dug up for a subway. All without rocking the bike or upsetting his pillion. Admirable skill and deplorable civic attitude in one shot.

For an instant, I thought I might point out the latter to the chap, but it would have been futile. You know how they are. They shrug, smile and moments later they will do it again. It sucks. I'd like to believe you can change the world one person at a time, but frankly the path is steeply uphill and I'm increasingly leaning over into the cynic side. So I pointed this chap out to The Wife, muttered something like, 'What a total, effing idiot!' and continued.

Once the light changed, and we crawled back into the rush hour traffic, I more or less forgot this chap. We were having a good ride. Then I hit my favourite stretch. This almost five kilometre stretch of road is wide open, well-surfaced, safe to speed on when empty and well lit too. I love the CBZ X-Treme's two-up buzz around 80-90 kph on this stretch and feel very happy when I come to a stop on the front row of the traffic light that just precedes this stretch.

Normally, I am the second or third of the lights – making sure no one's jumping the lights across – but once I hit my stride, very few vehicles come past. To my surprise, the first bike off the greasy line was, you guessed it, our lidless hero and his hapless pillion.

As I saw his bike weave wildly in the wet before gripping and shooting off into the night, it occurred to me that we humans are conditioned to ignoring the risk of daily activity. As in, we use the sharpest knife casually without considering the damage it could cause for no better reason than because we use it daily. We forget, in this chaps case, that you are endangering at least two lives. That a simple fall could kill him or worse. That full throttle when two-up in the rain is the same as asking for someone to come and clobber you with a blunt object. That a lid not only protects you when you fall, but it restores your vision at speed and in the wet.

That four kilometres of unbridled speed is not worth a human life.


Anonymous said...

aha, so someone got better of you in traffic light motogp ;-)

Joker apart, with such people you can't do anything but to make sure you keep yourself at safe distance from them but sadly they are all around you. For example: Last eve, while I was standing (right in the middle of a break in divider) to take a 'U' turn some Alonso fan while reversing his Car bangs into me. Result me and my bike were down. Thankfully I was on bullet so other than a bend rear number plate and a bend handlebar nothing happen to bike and I got away with a bruised knee. But I'm sure his rear bumper will make him write a cheque of few thousands.
The reason why he hit me was the black glass he was having on his WagonR's backdoor, which didn't make him see me.

rearset said...

At least you have your new jacket to elevate the mood, eh? ;-)

theslayer said...

Ah.. This is what i was waiting for! Had enough of news bits! Something straight from the heart of rearset is what makes me nod my head approvingly and go ahead with my chores :D! Else, I read the article, stare at it for a long time, wonder why I'm doing that and mindlessly Stumble for anything else that'd make me tell myself "Ok, you've learnt something about biking today, go home now!".

And the last sentence, does it mean you won't be speeding on your fav stretch anymore? You're after all wearing more safety gear than a ready for action SWAT team.

Anonymous said...

sad thing, this. i've seen some people go to the extent of putting their helmet on their mirrors(who needs those, right?) and put them on when a cop is in sight and take them off right after.

powerslave said...

Although I agree with the thoughts 110%, paranoia kills.

Hrishi said...

It is undeniably beautiful outside and yet, there is a new fear of the falling rain that I don't remember having felt before.

And i thought it was just me!! Good to know that im not alone...

Regarding the rash riding, I think it has a lot to do with age. Things will slow down once he grows up. (If he survives this period, that is)

Anonymous said...

Its funny, but I had exactly the same thought a few days ago, when I was witness to a small mishap on the WEH.

I was doing about 60KPH in medium traffic on a 'good' stretch of the highway with 5-6 lanes on either side, when suddenly the car in front of me braked hard.

Out of the blue, in the fast lane of the highway, a pedestrian had appeared and was trying to cross the road. The driver in front obviously did not see it, so had little time to brake and in the process hit the guy while braking.

The driver had no way of seeing this joker in the traffic, but this joker had taken a un-calculated risk when he jumped onto a very fast stretch of a 8 laned highway! In the process, endangered his own life, and damaged a car!

Deaths Head Roy said...

Yeah, happens all the time....and like I said before, I still curse them loud and clear.....but trying to follow your advice on "expect anything"....... :)

rearset said...

No, it simply means that the four km stretch can be approached in many ways. I think I know the right one...