Dear Car Driver,

Hell For Leather, HFL -



Dear Bob, (although you may even be called Sarah, Peter or Trisha),

Thank you very much for your concern today and talking to me about riding a motorcycle. I was not aware that bikes are dangerous. But I am grateful to you for pointing this out as nobody has mentioned this to me before. Ever.

But as I told you it really is my choice. I made it at a young age and although I know you will this very surprising, I am very comfortable with my decision.

The reason why I wear leathers is not because you think I want to look sexy but to stop me losing my skin after you have hit me in your car when you were distracted while texting, shouting at your kids in the back seat or had spilled your coffee (delete whichever one you think is applicable), And it really was you, who hit me and sent me spiraling down the road on my back while my motorcycle, which you told the police officers you never saw, went off in the opposite direction.

I do not want to hear about your friend, cousin, distant uncle (you get to choose again which one) who lost all of his limbs and parts of his head after riding a motorcycle. You were not exactly clear how all that happened but I don’t need to see pictures of him, either before the accident or afterwards. Nor do I wish to know where your relative is buried.

At this point I’d also like to apologize to your six-year-old son Jimmy who has a large burn on his right leg from my wickedly hot exhaust pipes.

I know it was entirely my fault. But I did ask you not to let Jimmy play with my motorcycle as it sat in the parking lot cooling down. I distinctly remember too saying to you that it was not a good idea that you lifted Jimmy on to my bike’s seat for a quick photograph.

And of course I fully understand that Jimmy’s shoes are expensive. I do not mind in the least that that my motorcycle’s exhaust now has lumps of shoe plastic and child skin burnt on to it. I sincerely hope Jimmy is making a full recovery.

You are absolutely correct that my motorcycle is not a Yamasuki and of course I know precisely the 1960’s British motorcycle that you refer to that your grandfather owned and although I have never seen one based upon your description of it being green with shiny wheels. I agree it was very sad that your grandfather had to sell it because your grandmother told him to.

I believe I may have astonished you when I explained that motorcycles are allowed to lane split here in California. I understand you’d been sitting in your car in a freeway traffic jam for about 10 minutes when I tried to squeeze by. But as you had hoped moving the nose of your car into my way did make things a little harder for me. But I appreciate you rising to the challenge to test my low speed riding skills. But you avoided eye contact with me, which was a shame as I wanted to stop to thank you and shake your hand.

Although it’s more than six months since you moved in next door you still like to come out and mouth rude words and shake your head at me, when I start my motorcycle of a morning. I’ve seen you in my mirrors.

I suppose I could wait until you left in your car for your very important job counting paper clips for the government and then follow you out of our neighborhood. But I have decided against that as I have a feeling you may still be a bit cross with me. And you might unexpectedly slam on your brakes trying to find your cell phone that’s ringing somewhere in your car as you didn’t want to buy a blue tooth kit.

I think you were disappointed when I explained that although I ride a motorcycle I am not a Hells Angel. You told me you once saw more than 200 of them near San Francisco and they all had beards like mine and wore leather jackets just like mine.

And I believe you when you said you weren’t a bit scared and overtook them in your car with your kids pulling faces at them as you drove past at more than 70 mph. That must have made those Hells Angels laugh long into the night.

I am also remorseful that I have never watched the TV show called ‘Brothers of Anarchy’ that you told me about. I accept that you say it’s based on truth but even though my motorcycle looks to you like the type those bad guys ride I can assure you I absolutely have no plans to sell you drugs, shoot you in the head in the middle of the night and then rape your dog.

However, how about this? If you can stop telling me that motorcycles are dangerous and instead watch out for me on my bike when you’re in your car, I’d really appreciate it. Maybe you can put down your phone, coffee or magazine that you were reading as you were driving. Use your mirrors a little more and perhaps even show a bit of genuine courtesy to others on the road and not just me on a motorcycle.

Then, in return, I promise I will absolutely leave you and your extremely attractive dog alone.

Do we have a deal?

  • Davidabl2

    In California we have “use a gun go to jail” enhancements for crimes committed with guns.. We need the same for cellphones..And I’m not talking about insider trading unless the motorist runs over somebody while texting in his stock order..

  • HellomynameisAG

    This is fantastic.

  • Martin

    Is content for the site reviewed by an editor before being posted?

    (This is not an attempt at sarcasm. I am asking in all seriousness.)

  • Guest

    Hm. I’ve never had a comment disappear before. That is, not until my last comment, the text of which was:

    “Is the content on this site reviewed by an editor before it is posted? (This is not an attempt at sarcasm. I am asking in all seriousness.)”

    Merely a coincidence? I’ve read “How to Comment… Like A Boss”. Here’s hoping it was just one of those inexpiable Disqus hiccups.

  • Steve Chubb

    Brilliant Tim 100% hit the nail on the proverbial Harleys Head. Going to forward to my non biker girlfriend!!!

  • mjc_iv
    • Tim Watson

      But the problem hasn’t gone away of distracted drivers. Or has it where you are?

  • Michael Howard

    Bob (or Sarah or Peter or Trisha) appears to be a bit schizophrenic as they don’t care for motorcycles and yet, at other times, seem to have fond feelings for them.

  • Mykola

    Ask any car person and most will tell you motorcycles are dangerous; ask any motorcycle person and all will tell you cars are dangerous.

    • Davidabl2

      The accident stats don’t lie: fatality rates in the USA are about 30times for motorcyclists vs what they are for motorists,per million miles travelled.

      • george

        While I am fully cognizant that motorcycling is more deadly than driving a car, that 30 times more deadly is suspicious. If you subtract out driving while intoxicated and driving on weekend nights when everyone else is intoxicated, then riding becomes much less relatively deadly.

        • Scott Otte

          Exactly. When I first started riding I read the Hurt Report like it was a list of things to do and not do. Do get training, don’t drink and ride and wear protective gear.

        • Davidabl2

          30x equals 30x what we’re really asking here is “where does all that difference come from” ..specifically when and where and what additional risk factors make it happen..
          and you’ve mentioned what must be a couple of the real big additional risk factors.

    • Piglet2010

      Cars/light trucks/SUVs are much more dangerous than motorcycles. How many road users are killed by careless operators of the former compared to the latter?

      Time for people to take a less selfish look at safety.

  • Starmag

    Awesome. I could have written this. Too bad it won’t appear in some place where non-motorcyclists would see it. Who hasn’t met the fearful drone who, upon hearing that you ride, does their best to rain on your parade?

    • TheBoatDude

      Even if it did appear were non-motorcyclists could read it, I hardly think that the point would be gotten, unfortunately.

  • The_Doctor

    Dog rape: Serious business.

  • Scott Otte

    It’s sad that this is such a universal feeling for motorcyclists. We bond over how much crap we take from people who think we’re crazy. Maybe we just like being misunderstood.

  • Boredinmin

    Ha! Funny and all true. But, the loud pipes are a legitimate problem. Sure, “loud pipes save lives”. But, they’re also incredibly annoying to the neighbors, people driving next to you, anyone walking on a sidewalk..hell, even people in buildings if the noise is loud enough. There needs to be a limit to the volume.

    • Davidabl2

      REAL HORNS on motorcycles would save lives,as would real helmets..but almost all the “loud pipes save lives’ types that i see have neither. Seems It’s just an excuse for juvenile behavior, at best or pure assholitude at worst.

    • TheBoatDude

      Loud pipes might indeed save lives, but so does not riding like an asshole…but that doesn’t look cool, so loud pipes it is…

  • Juan Carlos

    While I understand this is an OpEd it’s still very disappointing
    to read here. It serves no other purpose than to thump chest and push the car driver
    / motorcyclist relationship further apart. No riding tips, no review just nonsense.
    Frankly you sound like a thirteen year girl throwing a fit because mom won’t
    let her wear a miniskirt to the dance.

    I’ve been riding 30 years on most every type of machine,
    ride to work every day. I’ve worked in the automotive safety industry for the
    past 15 years. And still I’m always amazed by this entitled attitude. Neither a
    car nor motorcycle are dangerous, people are, they just become more dangerous when
    combine with a vehicle of any sort.

    I see dumb stuff on the highway every day and haven’t been
    taken surprised once, because I expect it. You make your choice jumping on a
    bike knowing full well that drivers are easily distracted, knowingly putting
    yourself in harm’s way. Man up take the responsibility and let the car driver
    live. I mean you can’t possibly believe that car drivers take their first drink
    of coffee and say to themselves… “Today is a good day to wipe a biker; and say
    I didn’t see them, which would make me feel awesome”.

    Do you not own a car? If you do I’m willing to bet that you’ve
    been distracted while operating it, probably even done something stupid… I

    Finally if you don’t want to hear or can’t deal with the
    silly motorcycles and gas station talk from the car people maybe you should take
    up driving your Prius to pinochle games. Meeting those people is one of the
    things I enjoy most.

    Spend that energy writing an article that’s informative to
    both the motorcyclist and car driver explaining these things without vilifying
    them or how to deal with the situation when you find yourself on a bike and
    know a distracted driver is coming. From where I’m sitting you may not wear the
    leather to look cool but you sure use your keyboard to.

  • grb

    the thing is, only motorcyclist read this open letter to car drivers…

  • atgatthd

    This is all irrelevant.

    As the poem goes…

    ‘Here lies the body of William Jay
    Who died maintaining his right of way -
    He was right, dead right, as he sped along,
    But he’s just as dead as if he were wrong.’

    quoted by Eric Hiscock in “Cruising Under Sail”, Oxford University Press, 1st edn, 1950.

    The terrible grammar makes it doubly so.

  • Jim Gallo

    Wow. What a load of crap.

  • JimmyGee

    What a load of crap.