As an instructor I review with new riders risk factors that can and cannot be controlled. Automobile drivers are one risk factor we cannot control versus things we can control such as increasing our visibility or following distance etc. Another point I like to underline is one of the reasons motorcycling gives such pleasure is because “you’re out there”, you become part of the scene--you ride amidst an environment that’s ever changing around you. This has direct effect upon you unlike in an automobile where you’re more of an observing participant contained behind a pane of glass.
With that said, being part of your surroundings includes its mood and this was much the case this past Thursday night in downtown Toronto.
I had planned to take a friend on my “famous” Toronto City tour by scooter—when underway at rush hour, the Toronto subway system broke down and chaos hit the streets. I contemplated cancelling our plan of heading through the city because of its jammed up frustrated mood-- cars and cabs were frozen as thousands of pedestrians tried to find a way home after a long work day.
Even when en route to my friends’ home, I experienced a bout of road rage! A fellow in a supped up pick-up truck after much effort at illegal speeds and traffic manoeuvres (I realized after the fact) pulled up beside me at a red light, crudely threatened me while blatantly cussing me off! Evidently, earlier, I had cut him off. He couldn’t look me in my eyes, I think maybe because he thought I was a guy and felt embarrassed at behaving so inappropriately to a woman, or maybe it’s because it took him six city blocks to catch up with me! My response to him, nonreactive "blanco".
Nonetheless the city tour by scooter went on and we ventured downtown which ended up being not so bad—we were on scooter, an urban advantage. Later however, while course-plotting through traffic jam after shocks, a taxi cab in front of me hit reverse and managed to drive itself up onto my front fender. I caught him in time, luckily, resulting in surface scuffing of my fender. I asked him how it could possibly be that he didn't see us?
Indeed you’ve got to be calm, and mentally prepared for the ride around us—particularly in an urban environment.