One of the riddles that Maui residents love to joke about is the fact that you get "a ticket if you don't click it," but if you pile a bunch of dogs, your grandma and four kids in the back of a pickup truck and tool down the Pi'ilani Highway, no one is going to pull you over and write a citation.
It's the same irony with the "no helmet" law for motorcyclists. I own a 1997 Harley Davidson Low Rider. Years ago, after my first asphalt-eating experience, I decided that my helmet (with all the dents in it) had just preserved whatever the 1980s had left of my remaining brain cells. So, if you see me tooling down the Mokulele Highway, I'm the Harley geek riding through the cane sandstorms with the full-face helmet. Every rider already knows the survival drill: You stay in the "zone" when you're riding. Enjoy the experience of the air passing by and love the feel of the bike, but all the time you're in that zone, you pretend you're invisible--and to many drivers, you are.
"SIPDE" was one of the first things I learned in a safety course I took a million years ago, and I use it every time I mount my bike. "S" is for Scan (just like the Terminator, you are doing a computer-like, left-to-right-to-left visual scan as you ride). "I" is for Identify (for instance, you see a trash barrel on the side of the road, an elderly person on the right side of the road with the right turn-signal flashing, or a dog in a field heading toward the road). Once these are identified, you immediately "P," or Predict (that the trash barrel will roll out on the road, that the driver really meant to turn left in front of you, or the dog is about to chase a mongoose onto the road). You then "D," or Decide what you will do if any of these things happen, and of course, if they do happen, you will "E," Execute your prepared decision to avert the problem.
But most riders instinctively know all of these things, and the bottom line is that the name of the motorcycle game is "Defense." If I have to explain (as the saying goes), you wouldn't understand...
Lastly, most traffic signal lights are geared to activate a green light when your vehicle stops at it. Unfortunately, this Mickey Mouse gadgetry does not "feel"motorcycles, so a biker has a choice to either wait forever until a car shows up--or go through the red light. What is a law-abiding rider to do?
When I become Supreme Emperor of Maui, the first thing I'm going to do is fix that major goofball aggravation.
Charles Laquidara has lived on Maui for over 11 years. He worked at WBCN radio in Boston for 30 years and is occasionally heard on Mana'o Radio. Email firstname.lastname@example.org