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Beyond Reasonable Doubt

One of the freedoms of this country is that citizens accused of committing a crime have the right to a trial before a jury of their peers. These juries are comprised of a group of people selected randomly from the general population of the jurisdiction in which the trial is being conducted. Probably the most important instruction given to jurors to guide them through the trial is that the defendant must be assumed innocent unless the prosecution proves otherwise beyond a reasonable doubt.

A reasonable doubt is not an imaginary or frivolous doubt. It must not be based upon sympathy or prejudice. Rather, it is based on reason and common sense. It is logically derived from the evidence or absence of evidence. On the other hand, if a normal person would rationally decide that the evidence supports their conclusion, then reasonable doubt has been removed.

While none of us ever want to be on trial and face a judge and jury, it could be interesting to pretend for a minute that we are being judged by our peers. We may not be in a courtroom with the jurors seated in a jury box and there may not be a judge or any attorneys nearby, but there could be. Regardless of the location, the facts of our case could still be deliberated by a group of our equals.

Based on what they see us doing will they be able to determine that we are riding in a safe and responsible manner? Will they, as they watch our riding behavior, come to the conclusion that we are skilled riders who exhibit a safety conscious attitude? Will they be able to reach this verdict beyond a reasonable doubt as they weigh the evidence presented to them?

Most doubts they might have about our riding will fade away quickly if we are riding the way we know we should. If we are continuously trying to improve our riding skills through training and by learning new techniques, our jury will find it easier to rule in our favor. Bad habits are less likely to slip into our riding style and taint the jury's perception of us if we are putting what we learned during our training to use on a regular basis.

What if we were sitting on our own jury? Would there be any reasonable doubt in our mind as to whether we are a safe and responsible rider? Could we find evidence that might put such doubts in the minds of other riders about our style?

We shouldn't be riding to impress others. On the other hand, if we're doing the things that would allow a normal person to reasonably determine that we are safe and responsible riders, we will be able to enjoy our ride more. Such behavior will probably let us experience fewer close calls and avoid more potential problems than we might otherwise encounter on the road.

Keeping our skills sharp and remaining focused on our riding doesn't guarantee that we won't encounter any hazards on the road. But ensuring the evidence gathered by others leads to a favorable verdict will beyond any reasonable doubt increase our odds of having a smoother and more enjoyable ride.

Ride Smart! Ride Safe!