Most people don’t like bikers or motorcyclists or any two wheel riders. They consider these riders to be irresponsible daredevils who go about throwing themselves in front of cars and just asking to be knocked over.
When interviewed, a number of drivers used polite but mainly colourful language to describe the riders they had seen or been in accidents with.
‘Those idiots should be more careful,’ growled one such driver, ‘They just go flinging themselves in front of cars and then expect us to take the blame when we hit them!’
Another said that bikers should be banned or have a law passed on them as they ‘have a bad influence on the community’.
All in all, - ‘Bikers are bad’ - was the main message from all drivers interviewed.
However, have you ever heard the point of view of bikers themselves?
‘It makes me feel alive!’ said one rather zealous rider. ‘There’s no other way to get so exhilarated and feel that pure rush of adrenaline.’
Motorcycles are considered dangerous machines. It’s a fact and anyone who says otherwise does not know them. However, in contrast to what many mothers believe to be ‘two wheeled death machines’, in most bike and car related accident cases, bikers often claim that the drivers were distracted with cell phones or may have been driving too fast or were not alert to their surroundings. In addition, an independent inquiry proved that 80% of accidents involving bikers were caused by other road users, most of which were due to car drivers specifically failing to look properly.
But what many riders believe that motorcycles represent overrides everything else: Freedom.
‘Riding a motorcycle is a feeling that cannot be explained in words,’ stated a former biker. ‘That wind in your face, exhaust noise and that numb hand when you throttle and brake: all gives a biker the maximum feeling which cannot be obtained by any other activity.’
They consider these riders to be irresponsible daredevils
‘We ride because we want to, because it gives us that feeling of just being who we want to be. We’re free, very free. No esponsibilities or worries or stress. Just us, the bike and the road,’
‘We ride because we want to, because it gives us that feeling of just being who we want to be. We’re free, very free. No responsibilities or worries or stress. Just us, the bike and the road,’ declared a young rider in a voice filled with passion.
Many of the former riders in Sri Lanka say the reason they were forced to convert to cars was because ‘we don’t have the privilege to ride high capacity bikes and the reason that the government believes, that those bikes can be used to rob banks.’ In fact, one biker asked why Sri Lanka allows Ferraris and Lamborghinis into the country while high-powered motorcycles are banned except for the police and the armed forces. ‘Isn’t it unfair to undermine one side and help the other?’ was his only comment.
Furthermore, many riders point out that the law regulators seem to have forgotten or have no idea about safety. The ban of full face helmets (which is a vital piece of safety equipment for a rider’s head, face and neck areas) was issued in response to banks claiming that bank robbers wore these to hide their identities. The angry motorcycle community maintains that the banning of important safety equipment would not compensate for the sheer lack of alertness by bank security.
Overall, the motorcycle community stated that Sri Lanka should update or amend her Motor traffic laws which would ‘enable both bikers and drivers to enjoy their privileges’ and moreover would help not only fuel good culture among drivers and riders but would also help future generations as well. Riders have been discriminated against for far too long and the result is a negative image that much of the motorcycle community don’t like at all.
In response to the question “Why do you ride?” the riders, unanimously state.
‘We love riding because it’s the key to Freedom.’