Empathy and the Motorcyclist's Perspective

By Leland Sapp (1200 Harley Sportster)

There are many types of drivers on the road and each has a different way of responding and reacting to the motorcyclists they share the road with.

Some drivers are oblivious. They just don’t see motorcyclists. They are so focused on the cars they are used to, the majority, that they don't see motorcycles. More dangerous, are drivers who talk on the phone, text, read, or eat a five course meal with dessert while attempting to drive. These drivers are downright dangerous! They stop abruptly and swerve unannounced while reaching for the tomato slice that escaped their Whopper and landed in their lap.

More frightening are drivers who get aggressive with motorcyclists. Maybe their ex-husband road a Harley or they got the s#*t kicked out of them when they, being an oblivious driver, cut off a biker who decided his near death experience warranted kicking someone’s ass.

I’ve only had one driver get aggressive with me. I was riding on a country road. No one else in sight but the two of us.
She followed me for miles, tailgating me the entire way even though I was going 10 mph over the speed limit. If a deer had run into the road or I had hit gravel around a tight turn, this gal would have made matters worse. Our duo ended with me giving her the big leather gloved bird, but looking back, I should have just pulled over and let her go by.

There are, of course, the courteous drivers who are riders themselves or have someone close to them that rides. These people treat you like a king on a flying carpet! They give you plenty of room, stay out of your blind spot, signal well in advance before turning and never cut you off. I am ever grateful for these kind people.

Of these courteous people, I admire most those who don’t ride motorcycles themselves, yet treat you as if they understand what it is to be vulnerable, throwing yourself out to the world at 70 mph on a 700 pound machine. These are the most evolved people in the universe! They have the highly developed ability to see the world from another person’s perspective even though it is beyond their realm of experience. Imagine what the world would be like if we could all truly see the world through the eyes of another? I’m not sure what would really change, but I do know that the world would be a better place.