Here is an interesting piece of opinion about motorcycles. In short, there are more fatalities among motorcyclists than among car drivers, therefore, we need to ban motorcycles altogether.
On June 13th, Hugh Curran published a post in a column of Sun Sentinel where he stated his opinion that motorcycles should be banned. The main reasoning is that motorcycling causes deaths which places significant costs on the society. The statistics Mr. Curran employs is number of fatalities per number of drivers, which is significantly higher for motorcycles than for regular cars. Additionally, Mr. Curran cites that motorcycles present environmental problem polluting the environment.
Aside from the fact that Mr. Curran’s close friends and relatives had motorcycle accidents, which I am sure had affected his opinion (and I am very sorry to hear about the accidents and wholeheartedly wish they recover), I cannot help but wonder why Mr. Curran’s proposed solution is to ban motorcycles altogether.
- Motorcycles do have higher fatality rates, as statistics shows, but laying the blame on motorcycles and/or motorcyclists is like blaming ALL of the car vs tractor trailer accidents on cars and their drivers. Car has lesser weight, sits lower, placing driver and occupants at higher risk. Following the same logic, we should, well, ban the cars, and leave highways to trucks only.
- Next, Mr Curran wonders how is it that car models that cause similar rates of fatalities would be pulled off the market while motorcycles are allowed on the roads. A car model that causes similar rates of accidents has a mechanical/design issue that causes the accidents. There is nothing wrong with motorcycles themselves – these machines are generally in fine mechanical form, aside from an occasional “squid”, who cuts wholes in his frame to lighten his crotch rocket, an action that causes hair to stand up on the backs of the rest of motorcycle community.
- Then, Mr. Curran cites costs to the society, assuming, but what is interesting, is there are no comparative costs for accidents caused by cars or any other mode of transportation. How about other causes of fatalities, for example, smoking? Or obesity?
- Additionally, Mr. Curran cites that driving is a privilege and not a right, a statement I absolutely agree with, but the author here derives a conclusion that it’s time to revoke that right from the motorcyclists. In doing so, Mr. Curran makes a blank, across-the-board underlying assumption that motorcyclists are irresponsible bunch, and therefore should be revoked the right of driving on the roads. Now, I understand that there are no statistics about “squids” vs responsible motorcyclists (maybe we could keep track of how many people riding in flip-flops and tank tops get into accidents vs. fully equipped motorcyclists that invested in gear and followed ATTGAT principle), but there are also a few “squids” that wear full racing gear, just to make themselves look cool.
In the follow-up post dated June 27th, Mr. Curran goes on to “address some of the more-colorful(sic) e-mails before sealing up my argument”, and at this point diverts onto his living situation, his body type, restates the “privilege vs right” phrase again without any meaningful conclusion being drawn from that and (finally) goes on to addressing the “well, then let’s ban the cars” reaction. In the author’s opinion, motorcycling is a hobby, a form of entertainment, and is not suited for roads, which were meant to be for “transportation, commerce, and national defense”. Here, Mr. Curran ignores people who commute to work on motorcycles (I’m not going to get into discussion that in some countries motorcycles are THE primary mean of transportation), or for business. I am riding my motorcycle for part of my daily commute. I am also a part-time real estate agent, and when I do not have to drive around clients, I find it easier (conditions permitting), to ride a motorcycle, which saves me money on gas, maintenance, and, sometimes parking, affecting my bottom line (clear example of commerce), improving my margins and thereby affecting the amount of taxes I pay which goes toward maintenance of those very roads.
And then, there is “so off to the track they go”. Here the author assumes that all motorcycles are made for racing and sport riding. The fallacy of this assumption is self-evident – just few words to google: “Goldwing” and “R-1200GS”
The post (i keep on typing “article”, and i keep correcting, as this post, in my opinion does not stand up to higher expectations of quality) then goes on to warn us, motorcyclists of groups of “widows or grieving mothers a la Mothers Against Drunk Drivers(sic)” who will “challenge your hobby”, and recommends us that we get fatality rates down and become champions of safety. Mr. Curran also suggests that we form a powerful lobby group similar to NRA. I don’t know where to start here. Firstly, Mr. Curran is clearly unaware of Motorcycle Safety Foundation which provides safety courses that I wish not only every motorcyclist, but also car driver took. I do not remember learning in driving course to pay attention of the wheels of the car in the left lane of the oncoming side as I approach intersection. Nor do I remember learning about the wind buffeting around 18-wheelers which affects cars as well as motorcyclists. I do know that i learned about it when i took MSF course. As far as association, once again, Mr. Curran shows that he has not done any research – all he needed to do is google “motorcycle association” which would lead him to AMA’s site.
The follow up post (darn it, typed “article” again!) ends with “don’t thank me for this epiphany, it’s what I do”. I hope he was joking.
Now, back from the self-aggrandizing conclusion of “schmuck with a column” post into the reality:
- Motorcyclist community is a large group of people of all walks of life and such group is bound to have its outliers – people who within the community are called “squids” – riders who do not understand the risks involved or take it seriously. Judging the entire community and take steps based on that judgment would be equivalent to saying that all car drivers are under-insured drivers who drive their cars that are about to fall apart in ways that put others at risk
- Motorcycle community always advocates safety, and I can speak from my personal experience that I became a better CAR driver since I learned how to ride a motorcycle – one of the things in particular – I am much more aware of my surroundings, as on the motorcycle the cost of not doing so is greater
- If one wants to improve the situation with motorcycle accidents, the approach should include (and perhaps, most importantly so) CAR driver education – there are way too many fallen riders whose only fault was bad luck of riding near a car operated by a driver who was not paying attention. Would requirement of taking a safety course prior to getting a license be helpful? Yes, granted that the courses would be taught properly and quality of education maintained. Would requiring helmets help? Here you get into the gray area – I myself not sure what I think about it. I know I’ve made a decision to always wear a helmet when riding, but I also believe risk assessment and decision is up to individuals. Requiring government to ban something or requiring something will only increase spending and take away freedoms from citizens. One thing to remember is – you can’t safe a fool from himself.
There are many things around us that present danger (I am fairly certain a human being can do a lot of damage with a pen, both figuratively, and literally), and banning all of them is simply illogical. The best thing to do is educate people about them. Otherwise, and I’d like to underline that this is a humorous statement, lest some eager mis-directed soul tries to advocate it, we should just ban… life – it always ends the same and overall, seems to be a terminal disease that is transmitted sexually. 😉