A Norton with crumple zone – column

ER Classics Desktop 2022

Is motorcycling dangerous? Ah, well! Healthy living, that's dangerous! Because the longer you live, the more chance there is that something will happen to you. Or that you harm someone yourself. Any statistician can lie to you. So all in all, we can make the most of it every day, laugh regularly and enjoy it.


When a message comes from the beloved of a comrade, that that comrade has been dragged away by the ladies and gentlemen doctors before the gates of heaven (or hell, because he did not always live in an exemplary way)? And that he is now – double vaccinated and well – in intensive care, while his degree of recovery is currently subject to the laws on gambling? That it can be viewed briefly by appointment and that it is limited contactable? Oh, yeah: That his Norton Commando has died? Then the finiteness of life is very close.

The condition appears to be the result of the fact that an elderly lady with her osteoarthritis-friendly pastry backed out of her garden into the road. And the gray-crested dove did so resolutely, at a brisk pace and without thinking that that stretch of public road next to her house was being used by other people at the time. If Emile had driven a little faster, he would have already passed the exit as the thoughtless senior with her blue wash turned her car into the beautiful, continuous bend, perpendicular to the road traffic.

But the fact that Emile, accelerating to a safe travel speed, had just not been fast enough had brought him into full shambles with the vanilla custard yellow Atozhe. All in all, Emile's guardian angels must have been working overtime and stumbled to the physio with sprained wings. Emile recovered miraculously quickly and well. Even better: technically, he caught up with the bureaucratic skirmishes of his business about the story about Emile's current speed at the time of the collision. It degenerated into a lawsuit, in which the already reasonably mobile Emile was also allowed to appear.

The differences of opinion about the speed of Emile's motorcycle snowballed into the lawyer's argument, who concluded that the collision at any speed was inevitable because of the pensioner's unexpected approach and the total lack of skid marks from Emile's deceased motorcycle. The other side saw it all differently. Because: “Defenceless Old Lady vs. Scary Motorcyclist”. In fact, the whole story had a happy ending.

We leave aside the gray-crested pigeon, which is also somewhat crumpled in battle. But on the plus side: One miraculously resurrected motorcyclist who again has big dreams of what kind of motorbike he will buy when he gets money for a new motorbike plus a lot of euros as compensation and because of lost income. And as a result of Emile's near-death experience, four people have registered as blood donors. Because without donated blood – and the medical expertise of doctors and nurses – Emile would never have had time to daydream again.

And should the tenor in the description come across as tendentious? Then that was certainly the intention. Somewhere in the media it was stated a while ago: “The elderly road user in danger”. From the bottom of my heart and various own near-death experiences, I want to change that cry a bit: “The elderly road user? A danger!"

So fellow motorcyclists: pay attention. Seniors often drive narrow, high cars with an easy entry. Just as often with a bicycle carrier on it. If someone in the car is driving in a felt hat and next to him is a lady with a gray hair… Be prepared for the most unexpected maneuvers. Because such a man in such a hat, after forty years of marriage, is used to answering every comment from his wife with “Yes dear” and then immediately complying with the command. Even if it makes the front page of the local newspaper.

Read also:
- more columns Through this link
– more stories about classic engines


Give a reaction
  1. Well, the elderly will sometimes have an accident.
    What I often see around me is that the elderly usually have the minor damage, while the youth, equipped with fun balloons, make really serious hits.

    I am more careful with the small pastries, young or old driver,
    Because in general the drivers of small pastries have less idea about the size of the vehicle than the drivers of large cars.

    And in my experience, Toyota drivers are the new BMW drivers.
    The most stupid actions regarding overtaking etc usually have a T on the back. . ..

  2. In the 70s, a saying among motorcyclists was “if you make it to the derig, the rest will follow”. There was less traffic, fewer motorways, the average speed was increased (I think) and there were more road deaths. There were regular situations when you were really lucky that it ended well. Still, the question remains: why are you not as comfortable on the road as you were then?
    Has nothing to do with age. But with much more unpredictable handling on congested roads where almost everyone is in a hurry and finds plenty of distraction in all kinds of other options besides driving.

    • I think age plays a part, Wouter. Because later you realize so much better what can go wrong. So that is 'being hindered by knowledge' which partly dispels the open-mindedness of the youth. And oh yes, a considerable part of them drove hard, including yours truly. The oil crisis of '73 dampened that, and more recent political ambitions have made 'going fast' the exception rather than the rule. With the car I now just let myself be overtaken by some trucks, because I now find my ego less important than my wallet.
      This insight does not completely rule out a 'frivolity' on two wheels, especially after an evening shift. After all, I live to live, not to survive. That means I can still feel comfortable in my own skin. But I understand what you're saying.

    • That's right, in a B-Kadett you had, in addition to holding the steering wheel, the choice of operating the lights, the windscreen wipers and the sliders for the heating/ventilation. Some of the lucky ones had a radio on board.

  3. Traffic is a mess these days. If they are not on the phone, other 'platforms' in the vehicle will provide sufficient distraction so that attentiveness and therefore safety are unquestionably compromised.
    In the past, indicating direction was really mandatory. At least….. Nowadays it looks more like an option! You can eat just about anything on the road these days. Making a phone call, cutting someone into the crash barrier, overtaking on the right, tailgating, etc etc. Chances of being caught are almost zero.
    But don't drive a kilometer too fast because you will receive 'fan mail' from the CJIB. That crooked condition does not really help to improve safety. Not even the massively built 30 km/h zones in the city. Improving behavior does help.
    In this society of 24-hour economy, a consequent 'busy, busier, busiest' and a
    squeezed by unbridled administrative pressure, behavioral improvement is probably a utopia and not even an option

  4. In 1996 my wife and I drove through the village of Sint-Jozef-Olen in Belgium (where we lived at the time) past the local nuns' school at a leisurely pace as my wife had three (3) cakes on her lap. What we (and God the father) could not foresee was that sister driver (almost completely blind but a valid driver's license) together with sister co-driver (in proper Flemish convoyeur - yes Dolf, we Flemish people also know our French-), who bottle, decided to leave their parking lot with a hard stomp on the accelerator, waving to sister porter. We didn't see that maneuver coming at all. Result: head-on collision between their car (Honda Civic) and ours (Large Mercedes). She: badly hurt. We: slightly hurt. Cakes and cars: Perte total. Moral of the story: Since then whenever we see a vehicle approaching from any direction we are and remain super alert….

  5. Story that I did not experience, but my brother then did.
    On the way in -my- Audi 50 to buy a car somewhere because of the permanent death of his transport, he overtook a tractor with trailer.
    Driving next to the trailer, the farmer in question concluded that -here- was the dam where his land was located.
    With that observation, he also resolutely pulled his steering wheel, with the result that he pulled the trailer over the Audi 50 and also pushed it into the ditch.
    After the farmer climbed out of his tractor, he wanted to blame my brother, because he overtook him…

    Car was a total for insurance….

  6. Cotton swabs behind the wheel of usually something “beige”, very often really old American, or
    a Camry. Also watch out for the windows that are misted up on the inside of all cars where there is an 8
    or even a few eights in the number plate. It's unbelievable how many weekend drivers fail to demist the windows.
    Bart is right, it almost seems that driving has become an option.

  7. We are all alert when an Atos, Agila or other gray-crested cart appears in our field of vision, but there are also plenty of ill-considered maneuvers that are smiled off by calling or texting business drivers and make-up and football mothers in leased station wagon C-segmenters…

    People just don't watch anymore; mirrors and turn signals have become redundant options…

    Sigh...and meanwhile I'm getting older and navigate as well as I can through daily traffic

  8. I also try to be alert in traffic, whether with my two-wheeler or with my or someone else's four-wheeler, and to respond in time to all kinds of signals. Both the racing pigeon generation (meanwhile I have also adopted that color at the top) or the scooter generation (whether or not tuned up) and everything in between. including non-motorized or electrically assisted pedal two-wheelers. The latter assume that, when they extend their hand to indicate that they are going to change direction, they immediately have right of way over other traffic and then plunge straight ahead of the 2,5-ton company bus like a kamikaze pilot. I move straight ahead on the same road at that moment. Often also mothers with a child of primary school age next to it on their own bicycle.
    Recently, out of necessity temporarily with a delivery van of considerably smaller size, I had to stop for a turning bus, which gave way to oncoming traffic. I managed to do that in time, after which I received a sensitive tap on the back of my head from the headrest.
    It turned out that a lady (year of construction 1981), with the delivery person made available to her by her garage owner as a replacement vehicle, had parked in the back of the bumper and rear doors of my transport.
    Long story short, she had been through some emotional activity that morning and so clearly wasn't just driving, as it turned out when I climbed out (actually more surprised than shocked) and found her horrified and emotional in the car behind me found.
    Coincidentally, I also had an appointment that day with the physiotherapist, who thoroughly treated my neck and back. The next day I turned out to be symptom-free.
    The lady in question woke up the next day with pain in her arms, shoulders and back because she had braced herself on the steering wheel.

    With this (by now quite extensive) story I just want to show that danger in traffic can come from all (unexpected) sides. I have also undergone more extensive training in the past than the necessary teachings to get my pink (then) paper. Afterwards I also did a lot of competition on some closed pieces of asphalt in Europe, so I'm always scanning whether I have a way out in traffic without hitting against something. Both with the motorized two- and four-wheeler.
    Maybe that's why the alarm bells start to rattle more often and sooner than with the average road user. Although I have to admit that I didn't always get through traffic unscathed either. The average annual mileage of approximately 50.000 km, over the past 10 years, probably also plays a role.
    However, my intention in traffic is only to be busy with driving and traffic, while when I look around me, I see a large part of the road users busy with all sorts of things, except driving and traffic.

  9. Many, if not all, of us will experience sensory decline. But being able to see less well (that's what glasses are for, or driving bans) or hearing, being able to react less quickly, etc. has nothing at all to do with the willingness as a road user to look out for other road users. A little motorcyclist checks how well or badly the motorist in front of him or her – and to a lesser extent behind – pays attention to the traffic (ie you). The sad score is that about 1/3 don't do that at all. It has nothing to do with age or hair color. Indeed, a fedora may make you more alert, but any kind of head is capable of making a dangerous mess of it. There are plenty of elderly people who make their way without (causing) a problem, and there are plenty of young people who just don't belong behind the wheel. Being able to look is therefore important, but wanting to look is more important.

  10. The hat rider, who doesn't know him. Seated on my two-wheelers or seated in my four-wheeler, I constantly scan the environment for dangers. When a hat rider is spotted, alarm bells ring and warning lights flash. How often I have had to subject my braking systems to a retest because such people could just run into an 'article 5' with their driving behaviour, that is no longer countable. But if I'm honest, I would like to reach that age someday. Perhaps with my observations and near-death experiences I have actually looked in a mirror of the future.
    Did I perhaps think of myself as that old man who had failed to look out as he crossed the road straight from church? I was just able to stop my 'Bavarian Boxer' with a squeaky front rubber. Half a meter before I would have knocked over the now violently startled old man. I resolved not to become like that man in the future. If only for the impending heart attack that I would have suffered in my forgotten maneuver. I too was shocked and continued on my way, with the adrenaline splashing against my eyeballs for quite some time!

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