Thursday, March 17, 2011

Buy a moto and cut your life expectancy (and those of others)

Today on Jimenez Ave., a policeman comforts a woman just hit by a motorcycle.
Bogotá is experiencing an epidemic, a plague, of motorcycles. Rising gasoline prices, chronic traffic jams and slow, crowded buses have motivated many, particularly young men, to buy motorcycles. The motorcycle as a vehicle seems to encourage risk-taking and dare deviling. And the kinds of guys who ride motorcycles seem to be risk prone. Unfortunately, they also move at high speeds and have powerful engines between their legs. 

Shouldn't have ignored that stop sign!
In recent weeks I've photographed the aftermaths of two serious motorcycle accidents hear in La Candelaria within blocks of Bogotá Bike Tours' shop.

In one, a motorcycle apparently ran a stop sign at night and made a turn and collided with a car coming down the street. The motorcyclist had ignored the stop sign, bystanders told me (a common practice by car drivers as well.) 

Here they come!
I don't feel too sorry for a guy who rides recklessly at night, perhaps after a few drinks. But the bikes hit pedestrians too. Today on Jimenez Ave. I witnessed a case in which a motorcycle hit a pedestrian crossing a street, knocking her to the ground, beside the motorcycle driver who also fell. The accident happened so quickly and unexpectedly that I thot at first that both people had been riding the motorcycle.

An emergency medical worker later told me that the women had only injured her knee. That was very fortunate, as she might very well have injured her spine or her head. 

The driver apparently blamed the pedestrian for today's accident.
I've had my own experiences with motorcycles. A couple of months ago, after waiting patiently for the green light, I was crossing a street on my bike when a motorcycle, fresh from running the red light, came from behind me and hit me, knocking me over. Logically, the motorcyclist got angy at me, for damaging his rear-view mirror. Fortunately, I was only a little bruised. But I later realized that the jerk had damaged my bicycle. 

This can be minimized, if not eliminated. It seems to me that authorities need to enforce liability payments, crack down on unlicensed and drunk drivers and cite all drivers for relatively minor offenses such as running stop signs - which are now usually ignored.

Addendum: This year, Bogotá did prohibit the use of motorcycles with highly-polluting two-cycle engines. But I haven't seen the rule enforced. 

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

No comments: