A Close Call in Traffic

Early this afternoon I was driving across the Bay Area Boulevard overpass (over I45 south of Houston) when a man on a very large black motorcycle decided that the right lane wasn’t moving fast enough and he needed to be in the left lane, ahead of me, at the high point of the bridge.

 The Sunday afternoon traffic was leisurely, moving at thirty miles an hour or less, so I wasn’t concerned by his lane change, although he didn’t leave me much room.

I wasn’t concerned, that is, until Motorcycle Guy leaned too far to the left, laid his bike on its side and slid off and across the pavement, landing on his back.

I stomped on my brakes (thank you, Star Toyota service department) and stopped about two feet from the huge bike. Fortunately the driver behind me did the same and didn’t rear-end my poor little Corolla.

helmetMotorcycle Guy was wearing one of those soup-pot helmets that look like they came from the prop department of an old war movie. No visor, no neck protection. He was also wearing a scruffy tee shirt with ragged arm holes where the sleeves had been torn away, exposing lots of bare skin.

I sat there stunned for a moment, hoping Motorcycle Guy would sit up, or at least move, not quite knowing what to do. Fortunately the vehicle ahead of the bike, a big black SUV, stopped and backed up a few feet, and the driver, who must have seen what happened in his rear view mirror, jumped out and ran back to Motorcycle Guy. The driver to my right did the same, and by the time the two good-hearted drivers reached him, Motorcycle Guy was moving—and letting loose some fairly colorful language.

There didn’t appear to be much I could do to help, but I got out of my car in case I was needed. Traffic behind me, both lanes of the bridge blocked, waited with surprising patience. I don’t know how many drivers could see what had happened, but I didn’t hear a single horn complain.

The two drivers helped Motorcycle Guy, still cursing at the universe (and perhaps at himself), to his feet, and the three of them righted the bike. Motorcycle Guy climbed on, the bike started up, and he took off across the bridge. Both he and the bike must have picked up some scrapes and scratches, I’m sure, but both were mobile. If Motorcycle Guy stopped cursing long enough to thank his two helpers, I couldn’t tell. The rest of us climbed back into our cars, and traffic across the bridge returned to normal.

No harm, no foul, I guess. But I have to wonder what might have happened if Motorcycle Guy had pulled that maneuver on the freeway instead of the overpass, at sixty or seventy miles per hour instead of twenty five or thirty. Could I have stopped before hitting him? Could the driver behind me? Could anyone have safely stopped to help? Could that pot-like helmet have saved him if he landed on his head?

I see motorcyclists riding without helmets every day—I don’t believe they are required in Texas, a state where “personal freedom” trumps social responsibility all too often. I once saw a man riding a bike down I45 at sixty miles an hour, wearing no helmet—perhaps because a helmet would have interfered with the cell phone he held pressed to his left ear.

I hope Motorcycle Guy got home safely. I’m very grateful that I did.

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Oberon Wonch
    Mar 16, 2015 @ 14:37:02

    Glad you got home safely too! Whew! Those kinds of experiences always unnerve me.

    Liked by 1 person


    • Kay Hudson
      Mar 16, 2015 @ 14:58:27

      Actually, Oberon, it happened so fast that it wasn’t nearly as unsettled as the evening a few weeks ago when my car stalled in traffic. This one, at least, was over and done.



  2. Sandra Owens
    Mar 16, 2015 @ 16:31:16

    I rode a motorcycle for years, Kay, but never, ever like that. I’ve seen riders, though, who made me cringe, ones like you just wrote about. That man needs to thank his lucky stars that he was fit enough to ride that bike away. Sounds like he wasn’t as appreciative as he should have been.

    Liked by 1 person


  3. JF Owen
    Mar 17, 2015 @ 20:08:05

    Hopefully Motorcycle Guy had time after he got home to realize close he came to having a very bad day. Kudos to you for being attentive and having good reflexes.



    • Kay Hudson
      Mar 17, 2015 @ 23:33:36

      I think he was mostly swearing at himself for being such a doofus. As for me, no conscious thought was involved–all reflex. But I did see the bad lane change coming, which helped.



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