What is it about small motorcycles that tend to attract crazy and aggressive car drivers? It's something I've noticed more regularly over the last couple of years that when I find myself on a smaller capacity motorcycle or scooter, it can often be like battling to stay alive.
Countless times when moving through the traffic we've all come across those drivers who see you coming, and through nothing other than what I could only imagine as jealousy, move their vehicles over as far as possible to restrict you access between the line of cars. Most of the time it's not a problem, easily overcome by simply finding another way around. And sure these drivers can be frustrating, but what about the ones that chase you? These motorists are far more dangerous and take this streak of jealousy to a whole new level!
Now as motorcyclists, we all know the level of danger we face every time we head out on the road, which is why most of us never place ourselves in a life threatening situation. Sure there will be times when circumstances are well out of control, but the majority of accidents are caused by other road users and not the motorcyclist themselves. This illustrates the very fact of what I'm talking about, that motorcyclists know their limitations, and also want to get home safe to their families each day, which is why being targeted by insane car drivers is a major concern. And it's a problem that will only get worse, especially with studies recently completed confirming that traffic congestion in our major cities and towns is set to immensely increase, which in turn makes the attraction of smaller capacity motorcycles and scooters more enticing, and not just for beginner riders either. Getting to work on less than 200 THB a week is often too hard to pass up, which means there are also a lot of experienced riders out there commuting to work every day on smaller motorcycles. This is a clear fact, you just have to look at the rise in the number of scooters and small capacity motorcycles flooding our roads. But with this comes another problem. Sure they're great to zip around town on the small bikes, easy to park and even easier to slip up through the lanes of cars, but when you find yourself in a dangerous situation with the aforementioned crazy car drivers, it often takes some stealth moves just to avoid being run off the road, and sometimes having a little extra power makes the world of difference.
I remember some time ago testing the Honda Forza 300 when I changed lanes on Rama 2 Road in the south side of Bangkok and a crazed person behind me in a large-looking pickup truck, and believe me if I say things look bigger in the mirror, decided he didn't like that and proceeded to speed up before dangerously tailgating me for the next two kilometers. When that wasn't enough to satisfy his anger, he sped up and overtook me before swerving back into my lane and nearly taking out the front of the scooter, for what reason I still don't know. He was probably just having a bad day!
The there was another instance when I was on a Kawasaki Ninja 300 and some madman decided to come flying up behind me so fast that he nearly went straight over the top of me. I shook my head in frustration, and what followed next was probably the most frightening encounter I've ever experienced on two wheels. Clearly irate that I had expressed my feelings of disgust, he began to chase me for the next few kilometers, all the while swerving at me from the adjacent lane. In the end it took some quick thinking on my part and at the last minute I took an exit off the road leaving him with no option but to continue on. It truly was a frightening five minutes and there were stages where I definitely feared for my life, and to this day I honestly still don't understand what could have made someone so angry and aggressive. It just seems that some motorists become so enraged when they see a motorcycle pass them in traffic, even more so if it's a smaller motorcycle and take it upon themselves to do everything in their power to get back in front, eventuating what can soon become a battle to stay alive!
Obviously there's no easy solution to changing the 'small bike syndrome' mentality of these aggressive motorists, and considering the hard facts show there will always be a demand, and rightly so, for small capacity motorcycles and scooters, we have to somehow educate them. Maybe one step in the right direction is to put ever new driver going for their license through a course of learning to share the road with motorcyclists. Teach them to be more aware of motorcycles and to treat them with the same amount of respect they would a truck. Just because we don't take up as much room in a lane as a large vehicle and may be a little harder to see, it doesn't mean we don't have the right to be there! If anything, with such a variety of 250 to 300cc motorcycles now available it's been great to witness so many new riders joining the ranks, and it would be a crying shame if a lot of them were deterred back to only driving cars due to the arrogance of some of their fellow road users.