Almost an FJ Flambé

Joined: 2006-09-15
User offline. Last seen 1 week 5 days ago.

This occurred this past April 16th on my commute into Washington DC at about 5:45 in the morning. I commute every day I can 30 miles each way, almost year round, if the temps are above the mid-30s and its not raining heavily.

I was on my faithful '87 Yamaha FJ1200 sitting at a traffic light on a four lane parkway, in the left lane on the right side of the lane. There's a low, flat concrete divider between the lanes. I'm about four or five cars back from the light. Next thing I know, a sports car is screeching through the instersection coming at me in the opposite direction lanes, hitting the concrete divider and the 'No U-Turn' sign. Turned out the driver was a DC detective that was just getting off duty and was innocently waiting for the light. An allegedly drunk driver rear-ended him at approximately 100 mph. The car was thrust through the intersection. The gas tank was broken open and there were immediately flames everywhere.

Just saw the front end of this car coming towards me on fire. He bounced off the truck in front of me and went skidding by my left side aflame. As he was coming towards me, I started move, albeit slowly, at least I think it was slowly, thinking 'he's on fire and going to hit me'. I found a way through the gap between the cars in the right lane and got off to the shoulder of the road. When I looked back there were at least two cars engulfed. There were bits of debris on fire in the intersection. I sat there for a bit, somewhat dazed. All traffic was stopped, obviously. This is a major commuting road into DC. Cops arrived very quickly and people had run back to help out. I then figured it would probably be a good idea to move further away, given that some explosions might be in the future and there were plenty of cops to handle everything. Tragically, the DC detective was killed almost instantly, while the offending driver had barely a scratch.

Luckily, I have always followed the MSF rule to keep the bike in gear when you stop. The road still has a huge burn torch mark from the fire. I still commute every day I can.

- Chris

good bike, great advice

A bike's maneuverability is it's survival trait. Move fast, move often-like a mouse amongst elephant stampedes

I had an 87 and a 92 Fj1200, both beaters I rode for a short time until i gave up trying to find parts for it and got a new FJR. Not the best in the braking department, but so delightfully torquey for commuting-you can put it in second and practically leave it there like riding an automatic transmission

Very good advice...

Too many times, I have seen riders crowd the bumper of the vehicle in front of them. If they were off to the side, I might be able to slightly understand. I leave about 2 bike lengths between me and the cage in front of me when commuting here in Austin, TX. It lets me have a decent maneuver room when the idiot cage driver on the cell phone tries to rearend the car in front of me. Glad you were not hit. I hate it when good people die because of others stupidity.

Paul Thronburg
'07 Ducati GT