Street Savvy - Motorcycle Lessons Learned-The Hard Way

MC Garage

By Harvey M. Broadway, Photography by Harvey M. Broadway

There I was, riding my 2006 Buell XB12S on Pacific Coast Highway on a Saturday afternoon. It was a beautiful day, 85 degrees, perfectly clear as I made my way along the coast through Laguna Beach toward my home in Huntington Beach. Near Newport Coast, I approached a traffic light that had just changed. Traffic was backed up in the two left lanes, but my lane was clear. About four cars from the light in the middle lane, a mini-van made a right turn from a stop as traffic cleared in front of him. Unfortunately, he had to cross my lane. I was about two car-lengths from him going 30-40 mph in third gear. I applied the brakes and leaned left, thinking I could clear his rear as he moved through my lane to the right. He then hesitated, so I applied the brakes harder and cut right. The last thing I remember seeing was his passenger-side door and front end.

I rolled about four times, and then slid on my left forearm and knee. The mini-van driver pulled over, helped me pick up my bike, apologized, and said that he had insurance. Several other cars pulled over and two women approached on foot, all offering help and assistance. In time the police arrived, and I was relieved to see it was a motor officer. All he asked me for was my license and registration, which I gladly produced. Shortly thereafter the paramedics arrived, and while I was being treated, the mini-van driver and the officer went off to begin documentation.

After a few minutes, I noticed the mini-van leaving. I asked the officer if he'd gotten the driver's information. He replied that he had, but it didn't matter because the accident was my fault. The driver claimed he was in the right lane turning right when I came up behind him so fast I couldn't control my braking and crashed. By this time all of the witnesses except the two women on foot were gone, and they said they'd been on the other side of the street and didn't have a clear vantage point.

I tried reasoning with the officer, but he wasn't changing his mind and told me to make my case in court. I continued to argue and he abruptly squared up on me and told me to sit on the curb. I sat there for a while, but my knee hurt at that angle so I stood up. He approached me aggressively again and told me to sit on the curb. This time I refused, saying that I wasn't guilty of any crime. He then threw down his clipboard, handcuffed me and told me that he didn't want to use his Taser today. Luckily another officer arrived and eventually removed the handcuffs.

I was blamed for the accident. The only witness documented by the officer was the mini-van driver. I got a ticket for unsafe speed, even though I was going well under the posted 55-mph limit. I had comprehensive and liability insurance, but not collision, so none of the damage to my bike was paid for. I contacted a law firm, but since I wasn't hospitalized, disabled or killed and my bike was only worth $6000, it wasn't worth it to spend $15K on litigation and investigation.

So I have nothing. My bike is gone, my faith in people-especially the police-is destroyed, and I have road rash and bruising from my shoulder to my knee.

I learned a lot of lessons that day-the hard way.

By Harvey M. Broadway
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