It was another gorgeous afternoon as I walked out of work and into the parking garage. I pulled on my leather chaps and my textile riding jacket, strapped my helmet on my head, pulled my gloves on tight. I was soon in the multilane commuter traffic of downtown traffic trying to sneak North out of the city.
My route takes me on a two lane highway with a concrete divider wall, narrow shoulders, and traffic merging into the right lane. I am in the left hand lane running highway speeds 3-4 car lengths behind a car positioned to the passenger side of the car I am behind so that I can see the brake lights of the cas further ahead. A few miles into the ride, I see the right hand lane suddenly braking hard, smoke rolling off tires, and cars darting to the narrow shoulder on the right hand side. I begin to squeeze some brake to provide more space between Rosie and the cars ahead in my lane of traffic. Soon my lane is slowing as well.
And then I see it, an aluminum omlete stretching across from the edge of the right hand shoulder, across the entire right hand lane, and just protruding into the left lane. I point my left knee towards the left side shoulder and push on the left grip on the handlebars. Rosie makes a nice smooth lean as we point towards the dew line on the left side of the road. As we approach the line, I stand her back up straight and continue to ease by the pile of debris leaving a safe distance to avoid any aluminum shards that might puncture a tire or fly up and cause a scar to exposed flesh.
We escape without issue, no harm, no foul.
I ride another couple of miles and take a off ramp to the left and pull up to a stop light. I am in the right hand lane of two lanes turning left monitoring approaching traffic to the rear in my mirrors when I notice a pickup truck pull up on my right.
I glance over at the truck, back to the mirrors, back to the traffic crossing in front of me, back to the stop light and then back to the truck. In the back of a pickup is a walk-behind lawn mower and an aluminum step ladder. The mower has a web cargo strap running thru the handles securing it to the bed of the truck. The ladder - nothing.
So, someone loaded up the pickup and had a choice to make. What to secure? The 30lb lawnmower with the low center of gravity or the 10lb aluminum ladder with a propensity for flight. Delbert chose the mower. Genius!
My mind begins to process what I have just seen in the last five miles as I merge onto one of Atlanta's busiest highways.
What happens to a motorcylists following the pickup if the ladder becomes airborne?
What happens if the ladder becomes airborne and a car hits it?
What happens if a motorcyclist is riding behind a car that hits an aluminum ladder?
None of the scenarios sound like they have a happy ending.
I made sure the pickup did not get in front of me. I encountered a couple of pickups on the remainder of the ride home that were carrying vast assundry of building materials and tools, and I elected to not ride behind them. And, I found means to pass them when safely possible.
As I think about it further, we need an aluminum ladder safety advocay group. Since the general population cannot figure it out on their own, aluminum ladders need to carry labels warning of their propensity for flight and their need to be secured when carried in pickup trucks.
Watch out when you are riding. Nobody else is!