I was lucky when, years ago, a much older and wiser officer took me aside and told me that it was always much easier to avoid trouble than to get out of trouble.
To do this, he explained, you always had to think about the possible consequences of things you were planning to do. Small matters or large, it didn’t matter. Stop — even if only for a moment — to consider the possible consequences and you’ll save yourself a lot of grief.
By now, I’m guessing that all of you have either seen the videos of, or read about, the road rage incident in New York.
The one where the driver of an SUV — who had his wife and child with him — was surrounded by a group of motorcyclists and, then, ended up running over one of them in an attempt to get away.
I don’t ride, but I have many friends who do. They’re all good people who simply enjoy getting out on two wheels. It’s not my cup of tea, but I can see the attractiveness of — and even envy — the freedom of getting out on a motorcycle and feeling the wind in your face while riding.
But, back to New York.
So, let’s say you’re thinking of getting a large group together and staging a ride through New York traffic. Fine, if some things are considered.
Did you have a meeting to both organize the ride and plan the route? Were there individuals in the group assigned to monitor the progress of the ride and the behavior of other riders? Was a permit, if required, applied for and received? Were riding rules discussed?
During the ride, were any riders behaving in a manner that might endanger themselves or others on the road and, if so, were any attempts made to take those riders aside and tell them to immediately cease such behavior or head home?
Right now, what we have is a video that shows one rider pulling up immediately alongside the driver’s side window of the SUV, staring into the window and, then, pulling directly ahead of the SUV and — while looking back — slowing to the point where the SUV made contact with the bike.
At that point, did anyone take charge of the situation and tell everyone else to move along so as not to block traffic and, then, either call the police, get the SUV’s license number (if he was even at fault), and — since no one had been injured — just attempt to de-escalate the situation?
Did anyone consider that the driver: (a) might be scared at being surrounded and outnumbered by a large group of cyclists; (b) might have others with him in the vehicle whom he felt the need to protect; (c) might think that the police would not be there in time to defuse the situation in the next several seconds; and, therefore, (d) might be inclined to flee the scene?
As I write this, no one — to my knowledge — has indicated what might have led to the rider thinking he needed to “brake check” the SUV. In other words, did the driver of the SUV do something to anger or endanger the rider(s)? We don’t know. Did the rider(s) do something to anger the driver of the SUV? We don’t know.
Up until that point, though, no one had been harmed. No riders were down. Nothing had happened to the SUV or its occupants. Possibly, all that was in play was a bit of anger. Had cooler heads prevailed, there would’ve been no injuries to anyone. Instead, actions were taken without any thought of consequences.
A rider brake checks and stops the SUV, which is now surrounded. The driver has his wife and child aboard, sees no police officers anywhere nearby, and leaves in the only way he thinks possible. Then, instead of calling 911, the bikers chase and, eventually, stop the driver, smash his windows, pull him from his vehicle, and beat him in front of his family.
One biker crippled. One driver beaten. The very definition of responsible behavior. Arrests (all riders so far) being made daily.
You can overlook them, but it’s a guarantee that they’ll seldom overlook you.
Larry Simoneaux lives in Edmonds. Send comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org