Hi, it's me, "Mr Controversy" (that was what folks called me in my college days, go figure
). I have engaged in several debates over the years on this forum that all seem to center around a difference of opinion as to just how dangerous it is to be a motorcyclist. Helmet debates, ATGATT debates, cruiser debates, oil debates, Civil War debates, and the latest: smoking debates(!) -- all seem to center around a disagreement as to the amount of risk we take whenever we hit the road on two wheels.
In my opinion, what we do is very dangerous. So much so, that I don't feel that any motorcyclist is in any position to scold, admonish, judge, comment on, or otherwise see as being different from others who risk their lives through their own activities of choice. For instance, in my view:
- ATGATT makes you marginally safer than no-ATGATT, but no where near safe enough. If given the choice of crashing on a motorcycle wearing ATGATT versus crashing while driving a "Smart" brand automobile wearing a seat belt, I would choose the Smart car every time. I cannot imagine a vehicle more dangerous to drive than a Smart car, yet those occupants are worlds safer than the rider on two wheels. So why do ATGATT riders feel so free to judge helmetless riders, as though ATGATT makes you as safe as if you were in a 4 wheeled vehicle? And if you're not as safe as you would be in a 4 wheeled vehicle, then why do you judge others for taking risks like riding helmetless or in jeans when you very well could be driving a car rather than riding a motorcycle, and thus practicing what you preach by putting safety above passion?
First park your own passions, then you can speak freely against others who do not park their passions! Right?
- Motorcycling is far more dangerous an activity than smoking, drinking, drug usage, and just about any other activity humans engage in. Why do I say this? Because as we all know intuitively and as we see in our daily lives, anyone at any time, regardless of how well they ride, how ATGATT they live, how long they've been riding, can get killed in an instant by that random woman talking on her cell phone not paying attention to her surroundings. Gone. In an instant. Just like that. I am reminded of what those mutual fund commercials say, "past performance is no guarantee of future results". Just because you have managed to stay alive and in one piece over 30 years of riding means nothing today
as you suit up today and head out. If that guy, "Mayhem", from those All-State commercials crosses your path, then I hope your family as you signed up with the "good hands people"
This is how I see what we do. When people ask me about motorcycling, I always discourage them from partaking in the activity. If they insist upon doing so, then I encourage them to get educated, take safety courses, and wear ATGATT. But I never encourage anyone to engage in this activity, it is only for those of us who are addicted to this highly, extremely, critically dangerous activity. Road debris, animals (insects, deer, birds, cats & dogs), distracted drivers, impaired drivers, fleeing drivers, motorcycle malfunctions, medical issues, air born projectiles, falling objects (tree branches for instance) -- all these things can befall a rider in an instant and terminate that person's life.
How can we quantify just how dangerous this sport really is? Does anyone have any suggestions as to how we can objectively see where we stand on the ladder of risky behavior? Is motorcycling even more dangerous than I think it is, or is it in reality, when the data is examined, more safe than even driving a Smart car?
And what about air pollution? Is there any evidence that riding in an environment like Los Angeles or New York City leads to respiratory ailments over time?
Is it possible for us to quantify the risks we take as motorcycle riders?