DID you notice an increase in the number of women motorcyclists in the city lately?
The next time when you are on the road, keep a lookout for them. I know there are more of them than, say, five years ago.
A decade ago, few women would consider riding a motorcycle in the city. Many considered it dangerous, and many more considered it unladylike.
The only places you could find women motorcyclists in those days were small towns such as Malacca and Penang, where traffic was sparse and the only threats to motorcyclists were cyclists and stray animals.
But thanks to the debut of scooters, every woman can now enjoy the freedom of mobility that comes with owning a B2 licence. Even those wearing high heels or the tightest skirts can now ride as elegantly as she should be when seated.
Convenience could be one reason why women ride scooters and motorcycles in the city, I think. Perhaps it is due to rural-urban migration that more of the fairer sex are taking to motorcycles. Of course, there could be other reasons.
A family friend rides a motorcycle to work because she has to pick her son up from school and send him home each afternoon. She figured it was faster to ride a motorcycle from her place of work to the school and send him home during lunchtime, before rushing back to the office. To drive would have taken her twice as long.
A female school leaver who had just obtained her first job said she needed her own transport. Her position as an advertising sales executive requires her to be highly mobile, and with the daily jams in the town centre where her office is located, it was easier to ride a scooter than drive a car. The savings she obtained would be used for paying for stuff like expanding her wardrobe or shoes. Of course, the price many women motorcyclists are paying, she adds, is that of a fragrance with a base note strong enough to overcome the smell of smoke and exhaust fumes caught on the blouse.
While women motorcyclists are a welcome sight for sore eyes because most of them ride better than men, some are riding with the recklessness of their male counterparts. They are not Minah Rempit - the feminine version of the notorious Mat Rempit or hellriders -- but your neighbourhood kakak, makcik or ah soh.
Last week, while stopping at the Jalan Travers pedestrian walk, a women motorcyclist who was still sporting the probationary "P" licence shot through even though the traffic lights had turned red and all vehicles had stopped. She almost knocked into an elderly man crossing the strip and could have injured him and herself badly had the man not jump out of the path.
On one morning, a woman biker almost ended up being trapped between a garbage truck and a Rapid KL bus in Jalan Bangsar. Her impatience with the slow-moving traffic had caused her to weave in and out of the lanes when miscalculation led to her being caught in a tight spot between the heavy vehicles.
If the driver of the garbage truck had not been alert and managed to stop in time, she would have been crushed when the bus veered left to stop at a bus stop ahead.
I have also seen many women riders who ride in the blind spot of drivers (the area diagonally left of the driver's seat which is difficult to see unless the car's rear and side mirrors are properly adjusted). Any sudden left turn by the driver could easily result in a crash.
The right to ride may be universal, but on the road, chivalry is almost dead. Some male motorists don't even give way to men, let alone to women. Female motorcyclists have only themselves to blame if they continue to throw caution to the wind. The price to pay will be much higher than that of losing fragrance in the traffic.