THOSE MENACES ON TWO WHEELS
by Jesus Erle Sebastian
Let me get this off my sagging chest. I hate bike riders. Come to think of it, hate doesn't really describe what i think of those menaces on two-wheels. They violate all traffic laws known to man. They weave in and out of lanes, at times going against the flow of traffic. They are all color blind-they can't distinguish red from green or yellow.
They think nothing of riding on the sidewalk, the gutter or street iuslan if they can't squeeze though vehicles on the road. They park anywhere they can chain bikes to a pole or fence. They are noisy, especially those with modifie mufflers.
Why do I deplore them? Maybe because they get away with it. Police and those so-calle traffic enforcers ignore bike riders' flagrant violations of traffic laws. As if being on two wheels exempts riders from regulations meant to establish order and safety on the streets.
It doesn't matter whether they are riding on puny scooters with 50cc engines made in China or those 1,000cc-plus Ducatis or harleys. Cops just wave them by as they beat red lights.
Okay, envy may also come into it. Especially when you see them going past traffic gridlock with gorgeous babes in tight pants and tiny tops clinging to them. What's this attraction for men with power trains-no matter how big or tiny-between their legs?
What I hate most is that their numbers are rising every day, exponentially. Honda philippines is building a bigger facility capablke of building more than a million bikes this year in Laguna. Other Japanese brands are moving in the same direction. And then there are the made-in-China rip-offs that are sold on every other street corner in urban areas from Aparri to Jolo. And don't you just hate those dirty, ugly bike repair shops sprouting like sari-sari stores in every barangay?
I can understand the growing popularity of the motorbike. They're cheap to own, use and maintain in thise days of spiraling fuel prices. They give the minimum wage earners the mobility of the middle-class car-owning folk at a time when even bus and jeepney fares are becoming prohibitive. Even car owners are turing to the motorbike as their daily ride to work and relegating their four-wheeled conveyances for family weekend outings to church, the mall, or countryside jaunts.
But does every other biker have to form clubs? Bike clubs are infesting the streets, from small barkadas bonded by the smell of fumes and grease between their legs to large groups of scooter-riding Hell's Angels wannabes with their faux leather vests and helmets bought from street-corner hawkers.
Don't you just hate it when you hear the roar of big bike engines chasing you on the highway on weekends, and then get overtaken by a horde of scooters with mufflers modified to soundd like Ducastis? Or being forced to brake hard to save the life of some stupid bike dragster on dark nights on Diosdado Macapagal Boulevard?
I realize that the allure of the bike is more than just the economy of using it. Motorbikes have always been associated with the Born to be Wild stuff ever since Marlon Brandon starred in the biker film back in the days when movies were in black and white.
But please, we can't all look like peter Fonda or even dream of being like Valentino Rossi, especially not drovong around in a 125cc faux Honda with the racing handle bars andd stainless steel mufflers. Okay, you can dream, but don't think that a bike is an excuse to break traffic laws or to endanger the lives of other motorists on the road. We already have a lot of dangerous-because they are ignorant or just plan reckless and irresponsible-drivers using four-wheeled vehicles.
I ashamed to admit it but I sometimes feel a twinge of enjoyment reading about bike riders getting creamed in accidents-not killed, mind you, just injured, preferably with a broken bone or two so they will be off the streets an not be a danger to others for a couple of months.
I usually take the side of the commuter who opens the oor of an FX shuttle and snags a bike rider speeding on the gutter side of the street, or on the sidewalk where they shouln't be at all.
If bikers have to form clubs, then it should be to organize legal races on proper racetracks or closed-off street circuits if they are into racing, or to espouse road safety and proper riding habits if they are more of social clubs.
Otherwise, I dread the day when Honda's prediction-that the Philippines will become a multi-million motorbike market a year-comes true. In the future, I fear I may be doing some snaggin myself-wittingly or not.