Driving is a right, not a freedom. Governments should manage and control driving and its related issues like any other public issue. But most governments have abrogated their responsibilities in this area or bowed to pressures from automobile industry lobbies. All of this has created a situation where our roads are increasingly dangerous because drivers have less control, are more distracted and are simply less capable. They mimic each others bad habits, are ignorant of safety issues, ignore traffic signals, refuse to use turn signals, disobey speed limits, drive aggressively, park poorly - a recipe for disaster on report our roads. Road rage is prevalent, congestion continues to increase, cars are made faster, bigger, with more distracting toys. But testing and training remain frozen at levels more suited to 1930s automobiles and traffic levels. Motorcycles are about control.
Automobile technology has also attempted to turn driving into an experience instead of an act of transportation or a conscious activity. Devices to moderate and disguise the act of driving - such as sound systems, tv sets, gps locators, and cell phones - distract from the act and shift attention to the peripherals. It is no wonder we are seeing increasing numbers of accidents and deaths on our roads: the very vehicles most people drive are designed to turn our focus away from driving to the devices inside the vehicle. Add on top of this such assistive devices as power steering, power windows and electric locks, and the driver is further removed from having real control over his or her vehicle. It is just another thing in our lives that has slipped from our hands. This is compounded by soft driving legislation that does not test drivers frequently enough and seldom requires them to maintain or upgrade their skill levels. There is a mistaken belief among many north American drivers that automobiles and driving are somehow part of the basic "freedoms" enshrined in national constitutions. Thus the lack of seat belt and helmet laws despite proof that these save lives, reduce injuries and cost taxpayers less money in public health care.
And why we were happy to leave
There are no cell phones; most bikes dont have stereo sets or radios to distract. We can smell the world we travel through, feel the wind buffet us, hear the sound of traffic; we are aware of environmental relationships, of the road conditions, and of our surroundings. We are acutely aware of other vehicles on the road, even if the car owners are blithely ignorant. We notice pets, pedestrians and potholes. You cannot run over marketing anything, cannot contact another vehicle or person on a motorcycle without considerable trauma. We are vulnerable when we ride, to both the physical and emotional realities of the world. We ride in the world, never merely past.
Motorcycles are not our shells, they are our transport. Riding is more demanding The trend in automobile technology has been to distance the driver from the actual process, from the mechanics, of driving. Thus the development of the automatic transmission - it removes from drivers the need to shift gears, but handicaps them by alienating them from the actualities of driving. It is a sad but true fact that million of drivers, especially in North America, are so unfamiliar with real driving and so unskilled that they cannot drive a car without an automatic transmission. Manual transmissions confound and frighten them. This is similar to people who can turn the pages on a book, but cannot read the letters on its pages.
As the suburbs have evolved into architectural and aesthetic monocultures, and look-alike housing with all the charm of cold porridge has developed as the preferred home for our working class, the automobile has also changed to suit its new environment. Cars almost all look alike today, pumped out with Stalinist conformity that bludgeons the senses. Vehicle after vehicle displays the same uninspired engineering and derivative design. Mini-vans and suvs in particular create the impression of a traffic stream full of clones. Several years ago, i was camping in Kluane park, in Canadas yukon.
Late in the evening, my then-wife and I sat at a small fire, enjoying the beauty of the late sunset over the mountains and its reflection on the still water. A large rv pulled up beside us - taking the adjacent campsite when dozens of empty sites were available all around the campgrounds. The driver, a middle-aged man, got out of his vehicle and built a substantial fire in his camps pit - a fire larger than the need for cooking or heat would demand. Huge flames licked the sky and sent upwards clouds of dangerous, dancing sparks. Then he and his wife retreated inside to watch it from the security of their seats, all the windows rolled up, the engine running. Eventually they retreated into the interior and we could see the flickering blue light of their tv set arc across the night. That for me defined the modern relationship most North Americans have with their vehicles. It summed up how most drivers perceive the real world: 'experienced' through the filtering windshield, seen but not participated in, a cartoon of reality. On a motorcycle, the real world is never excluded from the experience of travelling.
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Speed limits are annoyances best ignored in our rush to get to and from locations, not regulations or requirements. The automobile is a wheeled isolation chamber that further alienates us from our neighbours, eroding the save links that make these relationships into communities. We never walk any more: we drive everywhere. We turn valuable core land into tiered parking lots, tear down beautiful vintage buildings to erect faceless parking lots to accommodate more cars. Our suburban culture has turned neighbourhoods into ugly suburban sprawl, unimaginative, cookie-cutter designs shoe-horned into the agricultural perimeter of our cities. Our inner cities die while plan suburbs designed to maximize the automobile consume valuable farmlands and green space around the urban cores. Driving isnt simply for transportation out there: it is a necessity in North American sprawl culture. Without the car, you are immobilized - there is little or no shopping outside the distant malls. Neighbourhood convenience stores, the mom-and-pop variety operation - have been zoned out of existence in favour of massive box store plazas, strip malls and other concentrations of commerce, each surrounded by hectares of asphalt required to hold the daily swell of vehicles.
Our relationship with outsiders is increasingly sociopathic because we no longer relate to them as real people, but instead perceive them as simply images outside the vehicle, like tv cartoons. The automobile has become ubiquitous, its use an automatic reflex. We get in the car to drive two blocks to a store, rather than walk. Our vehicles are an extension of our personal space. We hurry because everyone else is rushing and were part of the pack mentality. We speed along, uncaring when we run over cats or squirrels on local roads. We never look back to see if some pets owner is crying by the road over the death of their pet book under our wheels.
sets and gps indicators. The plush chairs lull us into believing were in a living room rather than a speeding mass of metal. Inside the automobile, the art of conversation dies while the kids in the backseat watch their mini-tv sets or squabble over their handheld electronic games. Or proves impossible when we crank up the volume on our in-car stereos to ear-damaging volumes. We roll up the windows and turn on the air conditioning. The sounds of the world were driving through cannot get past the barriers of the raised windows. Private space becomes defined by the boundaries of the vehicle. It is a social environment only inside - we dont include those outside the shell as part of our social contacts. In fact, we often hide ourselves by tinting windows so the world cannot see us inside.
We half-listen to news reports of road rage and traffic fatalities while we weave in and out of the flow of cars, distracted by cell phone conversations. We buy ugly, bloated, gas-guzzling suvs that promise off-road adventure and excitement when we never leave the pavement except unwillingly at highway construction sites. Most of our driving is to such exotic locations as the local mall, school or the parking lot at work. We carry carloads of kids or coworkers, groceries and yard sale treasures. In order to deny the dullness of our lives, we buy into the advertising hype of automobile manufacturers because they promise to lift us out of our boredom. We purchase over-powered, gaudy and uneconomical vehicles in a vain effort to ease the monotony of our daily lives. Cars have become unreal and artificial environments, a protective metal shell that isolates us from the world outside and limits its intrusion into our personal space.essay
An example of an autobiographical essay /personal narrative
When my mood gets too hot and I find myself wandering beyond control. I pull out my motor-bike and hurl it top-speed through these unfit roads for hour after hour. My nerves are jaded and gone near dead, so that nothing less than hours of voluntary danger will prick them into life. Lawrence, april, 1923, riding is more real, sitting an a automobile, we see the world as if it were on a television screen. Outside exists on the other side of the glass, another, slightly unreal world that doesnt conform to our controlled environment inside. Its like watching a newscast from some foreign land, something vaguely worrisome, but that doesnt quite touch. We listen to the news of smog alerts and deteriorating ozone on the radio while we idle our cars in parking lots in order to maintain our air conditioning.