Tag Archives: motorcycles

Drive and learn – even at age 72

The in basket: I recently had two experiences worth passing along, as both carried a lesson for me – and maybe for you, now.

It annoys me when motorcycles are what I consider excessively loud, almost belligerently so. I wasn’t a big fan of loud pipes when I was younger and am less so now at age 72.

And I have the senior citizen’s bemusement at the younger generation’s infatuation with their smart phones, to the point they’ll take their eyes off the road while driving to read or even send a message.

The out basket: Somewhere recently I read a remark to the effect that “loud equals safety” regarding motorcycles. It’s clear meaning was that motorcyclists can make up for their lesser visibility with a roar that makes them more noticeable to drivers of larger vehicles.

A day or two later, I was driving south on Highway 16 near Purdy when I decided I had better get out of the inside lane as drivers behind me seemed anxious to pass.

I checked the blind spot to my right rear and saw nothing. I began my lane change when I heard  a motorcycle rumble made by a ‘cycle that was by then abreast of me in the outside lane. I moved hastily back into my lane and the motorcyclist passed me, not seeming to have been alarmed by what almost happened.

Had I not heard the sound, I very well could have collided with him, changing both of our lives to perhaps a ruinous degree.

I’ve had and even been responsible for a few collisions in my 55-plus years of driving, but they all have been minor and no one was hurt. I came close that day near Purdy to being unable to say that any more.

A couple of weeks after that, I was driving on Tracyton Beach Road in Central Kitsap, in that final turn one makes when nearing Riddell Road. It has a slight rise to boot, Some yahoo in a black pickup truck was coming in the other direction right at me and the Honda SUV ahead of me, trying to pass.

Both of us hit the brakes and moved to the shoulder. The pickup driver also braked quickly and slid back in behind the car it was passing.

By happenstance, a Kitsap County Sheriff’s SUV was the next vehicle the Honda and I met. He evidently hadn’t been close enough to see the near collision. The Honda driver flagged him down and presumably reported it. I tried to add my two cents worth but the officer hurried past. I doubt that he was able to catch up to the pickup on such a winding road, with the head start the driver had.

Anyway, I’m now more tolerant of loud motorcycles, though they’re still an annoyance roaring by my neighborhood at 2 a.m. I guess one doesn’t have to be a jerk to not quiet his bike.

A passenger in the back seat that day on Tracyton Beach Road remarked, “Thank God you were alert,” when the pickup driver took the idiotic chance. To me, it was a measure of how little time I might have to change the radio station or climate control setting or otherwise tend to something other than driving, You smart phone users could use the same lesson.

Speeding motorcycles and traffic control at Fauntleroy ferry

The in basket: A couple of questions arose in my mind as I went to Seattle and returned via the Fauntleroy ferry terminal one September Saturday.

As I left the dock on my way to a play in Seattle, I found a ferry employee directing traffic, stopping traffic passing by so departing vehicles didn’t have to stop before pulling out.

Then on my return trip, I watched as the off-loading began on the boat that had just arrived and that I was waiting to catch.

As always, motorcycles were the first to be released. I’d guess there were about a dozen. I could only estimate from my vantage point two lanes over, but my estimate is that each and every one was traveling 40 miles per hour or faster. They were traveling much faster than any of the cars that followed them.

The last I’d heard about traffic control at the dock’s outlet onto Fauntleroy Way, from a reader who wondered a couple of years ago if a traffic signal might be installed there, was that there was none. I asked when it resumed.

And I asked if there is a speed limit on ferry docks that would support a traffic citation.

The out basket: Hadley Rodero, a consultant for Washington State Ferries, replied, “All WSF terminals have speed limit signs. Depending on the location, typically the exiting speed is between 10-20 mph.”

State Trooper Russ Winger, who speaks for the State Patrol here, including the Vessel and Terminal (VATS) units, says, “VATS assigned troopers, like any trooper, can enforce any speed limit, however they are usually out of the patrol car, patrolling the terminal or providing security on vessels and not in any position to check a vehicles speed with radar or Lidar.

“Do they sit in the terminal area and target speeding vehicles debarking vessels? No. If  there is a vehicle driving negligently a trooper can obviously try and make contact but that is not the main emphasis of VATS assigned troopers. However, VATStroopers can and will take any enforcement action required if appropriate. ”

“Traffic control at Fauntleroy started on July 27,” Hadley said. “During the fall/winter seasons the hours are: Monday-Friday, 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. & 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.” Evidently, Saturdays have some, too, as Sept. 26 is when I was there.

Motorcycle loading rules on ferries no different on holidays

The in basket: My stepdaughter Ronda Armstrong and I had need to drive to Blaine on July 3, the Friday of a holiday weekend. Because of the prospects for heavy end of the workweek and start of the holiday traffic, we took the Kingston ferry.

Arriving on time for the 8:30 a.m. departure from Kingston, we drove right on without waiting. But after getting off in Edmonds, we drove past miles of cars waiting to go west to Kingston.

Ronda, a budding motorcyclist, wondered if motorcycles (and bicycles) get the same preferential treatment under the conditions we saw that morning as they do at other times. She also wondered if there is a limit to how many motorcyclists would be thus accommodated per departure.

The out basket: Yes, says Susan Harris-Huether of Washington State Ferries. Specific to Edmonds, “She (would go) to the lower lot (past the railroad tracks) and she either has to get off her bike and go in to buy a ticket or hopefully, she pre-buys on line so she can just be scanned and get in line.  “So yes, she bypasses the line.”

Motorcycles and bicycles get preferential loading at all state ferry terminals, at all times, though logistics vary with each terminal.

I had included State Trooper Russ Winger in asking the question, and he said, “That is my understanding also. Motorcycles and bikes also bypass the tally system in Kingston when in effect.

“I believe the ferries take as many bikes and motorcycles as arrive on time for departure,” he said.

Booming scooter sales call for driver education

The in basket: When Steve Stewart of the state Department of Licensing called me the other day to seek my help in letting the growing number of scooter and motorcycle owners know what they must do to be legal, I was reminded of an old inquiry to the Road Warrior from Jerry Maurer of North Kitsap.
“My wife acquired a 49cc scooter not too long ago,” he wrote in July 2006. “Our understanding of the
legality of this scooter is that it is considered a moped and no motorcycle license is required.
“(But) we are confused as to where she can drive on Viking Way heading north into Poulsbo.

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