We have had some snow in the area this past week, and by some snow I mean enough to close schools and businesses. I think the most accumulation we've had is 2 inches. It is not unusual to get a couple of inches for a week once a year but it is enough to shut this town down. It has taken me many years to accept the fact that the majority of the local population does not know how to drive in the snow and ice and that studded tires and mandatory tire chain requirements are normal.
I learned to drive in the snow, my birth date is in January so I took my driving test in the snow and I am familiar with driving through the deepest snow in some of the highest mountain passes of British Columbia and Alberta. I've lived in Rossland and Nelson, B.C. so I know snow and I consider myself an experienced driver in snow and ice.
Unfortunately, the other day a driver in the left lane of Highway 34 doing 20 mph believes it is his civic duty, based on his personal winter driving experience, to police everyone behind him. He drove for miles pacing the car in the right lane beside him. We finally got by him but had to go around him on the right as he refused to move over. He is unsure of his driving ability in the snow so he is cautious and drives 20 mph. I understand and support him completely except that he should be in the right lane as he is impeding traffic and creating a greater hazard. Everyone behind him was driving bumper to bumper, door to door, like Irondad describes, a school of fish.
What bothers me is that I am being policed by those who don't know me. This isn't new to anyone who rides motorcycles, we are seen as squids, bikers, hooligans and just plain irresponsible. The only reason to ride a motorcycle is to go fast, and the public perception is exactly that. We ride slightly faster than the flow of traffic, so of course we are labelled as speeders, regardless that it is safer for us.
What people don't understand is that motorcyclists make better drivers, especially in snow and ice. We are attentive and just like we do on our bikes everyday, we practice the physics of momentum, centrifugal force, friction and traction. We don't stiff arm, white knuckle, death grip the steering wheel and drive with one foot on the brake. We ease off the throttle and ease on the brake in one fluid motion, keeping our heads up, our eyes forward, anticipating the SUV, five cars ahead of us, sliding 360º into the guardrail. We don't panic, but assess the situation, survey the traffic behind us in our mirrors and choose our escape plan, execute and get away from the pile up about to ensue. Of course being motorcyclists, we try to never put ourselves in that situation to begin with, we ride in the open, and are constantly scanning our mirrors.
Unless some inexperienced driver blocks the left lane to teach us all how to drive...in the school of fish.