Zohra Fatemah

Buying a motorcycle, which in my case: a small scooter, was above all a pragmatic decision. It was the possibility of easy mobility on the crowded thoroughfare and the deliverance from frustration of the randomness of the public transport. As much as it was a pragmatic decision for me, I realized how for so many people, they are dependent on this as their sole means of transport.

It took me longer than the usual people to get accustomed to riding the bike: I had the phobia of two wheelers to overcome. It was at the beginning a very stressful moment, this ride from home to work. Feeling the proximity of the vehicles around me: the buses would seem huger, the heavy vehicles scarier and the high speed of other vehicles deadlier. Hence, I gave myself a dose of extra vigilance whenever I was on the road.

In a short span of time the confidence will be built, the tricks and technics of the motor biker learnt and all the fears and the ‘Nevers’ will be subdued. I am finally the independent two-wheeler lady driver taking the road on a daily basis. Freedom and independence never felt so good. With the experience of some incidents, which made my heart skip some beats still, I became even more conscious and alert whenever on the road.

We often only notice the motor bikes which come with the thundering sound from far and we so often make way for them to pass as well, but what of those small scooters who are moving in the silence of their daily lives. How do we notice them? How do we do so as not to miss them? So many times, in our cars we are so focused on the far-flung that we miss the small bike just some feet ahead of us. As much as I learnt to enjoy the bike, it also showed me how deadly and dreadful it can be.

The very first time I realized that bikers are the invisible riders of the road, was the day my husband, always so cautious, didn’t notice that man who was in front of the car, that biker who was in all the norms of a regular driver, it was around sunset, so there was still high visibility, he was despite that already wearing the fluorescent jacket, and despite all those precautions his presence would go unnoticed. Yes, despite being daylight and with the highly visible jacket, he was not seen, or he was just a figment of the décor for the eyes of the driver. It was just a scratch to the bike, it was more fear with no damage. It was settled by repairing the broken headlight. But what I realized at that moment was how this could have turned into a fatal one. Had it not been at a halt, had it been a car coming at full speed, this would have taken another turn of events. This incident could have ended by a broken human being.

That was when I came across this name for the bikers: the invisible riders. The shadows of the road. We have lately seen so many deadly accidents where the bikers were just the invisible riders, victims of just a trivial carelessness.

As much as the road is for the four wheelers it is as much for the two wheelers, yet, despite all they so often get lost from our vision. They are more often the victim of accidents, and worst, of the deadly ones. It is on the bike that we often realize how fragile life is. That, we understand how the biker’s life is dependent on so many other aspects not in his control. By times however careful we are there is always someone who is in such a hurry that they just miss that two-wheeler, or just someone who has his mind somewhere else, a fighting couple or just someone who finds you too slow. Someone trying to speed up his life and in this process, ending someone else’s. Well, just a slight neglect, a fraction of a moment of thoughtlessness and someone has lost more than their life.

Let’s give an extra eye to the two wheelers, however careless they can be by times, they remain more vulnerable than you: a four-wheeler. You are however, still protected by the coachwork, just a touch at full speed in your four-wheeler means, just a scratch to the body of your car, a headlight to be replaced, but leaves the scar of a lifetime to a whole family by the irreplaceable disappearance of a dear one. The death of a lifelong nourished dream.

Not vouching for bikers, because we have had those who are irresponsible but what if we all put an extra effort for those who have only this as their means of transport, who are more at the mercy of the road, at the clemency of the whims of each and every user of the streets. What if we give just an extra attention so that no mother must lose their eight-year-old daughters with an unfinished ice cream, what if we manage to be an iota more careful so that no parent has to identify their young sons at the morgue?

What if we believe a little more that the road is not the killer but our carelessness is? What if we slow down just a bit so that no parent should hurry their children to the graves? What if we make just an extra step to contribute to the safety of all users of the road, from the four wheelers to the pavements? What if we use more in our reserve of respect for each other and bring a little more courteousness on the blackness of the tar to ensure no one should leave a bouquet of flowers to wilt in the memory of a dear one? What if we show just a little more patience to avoid the collapse of a whole family? Let’s strive to ensure that the darkness of the road does not reach any family because of us. Let’s break the myth that the road kills. We kill each other.