5154 less motorcycles on the road

Good morning all,
This morning on CNN the bubbly news personality reported that automobile fatalities were down again last year. Then added that motorcycle deaths are up for the tenth straight year. That was all. A little digging was in order (no pun intended).

USA Today, Healthlink, The New York Times and more all have the story. Motorcyclist deaths are up 6.6%. 5154 died last year. Why? There are lots of things to look at.

Starting with motorcycle registrations, up 75% compared to 10 years ago. The average age of the motorcycle buyer has risen from 24 to 38 since 1980. In the past, 47 states required wearing helmets, today only 20 require helmets. Average size of a motorcycle has gone from 769cc to over 1000cc since 1990 and horsepower figures have just gone sky high. Older first time buyers, big engines, no helmets, no education = trouble.

With gas prices on the rise (here in the USA we’re just now starting deal with prices that the Europeans have been experiencing for years) motorbike usage is also on the rise. Guys are dragging their old bike out of the back corner of the garage, and more often than not, not upgrading the tyres, brakes, cables, etc. And more importantly not upgrading their helmet from the old 1979 model. Scooter sales have shot up. My friends at Cal Coast Motorsports in Ventura can’t keep them in stock. There is even a GM dealer I saw on the news that has given up it’s Hummer dealership and brought in small electric cars and scooters!!! Good for him.

Now, I’m going to step on my soapbox again. Hey, blogs are for opinions right?

I believe in wearing a good full face helmet…ALWAYS!!! A good jacket and good gloves. Quality boots too. Training. Before you are allowed to get a motorcycle license you must pass the MSF riders course. No exceptions. And if you’re really smart you’ll go to a another school, Keith Code’s California Superbike School, Reg Pridmore’s CLASS or another.

Next, I do believe in a ‘graduated licensing program’. It works in Europe. Being in the motorcycle business, I have a lot of friends in a lot of dealers around the country and I hear stories all the time of guys (women don’t too often do this) buying big bikes and asking the salesman, service tech or lot monkey teach them how to ride it!? And the fact that the dealer guys would do that blows me away as well. A sixteen year old kid with no experience should not be buying nor should be sold a 1000cc Sportbike. The same goes for the 45 year old who has always wanted a Harley but has never ridden anything bigger than a moped when he was in college. Note here, I’m not picking on Harley Davidson, but…that is Harley’s customer. You don’t hear the phrase, “I’ve always wanted a Honda VTX”.

Starting on smaller displacement motorcycles works. You can develop skills, confidence and enjoy riding the motorcycle without being intimidated. The are plenty fast, they come in all flavors (sporty, cruiser style, plain) and colors. They’re not too expensive and if you decide that two wheels really isn’t for you, well, you’re not going lose thousands of dollars. If it does fall over, you can pick it up. A good thing, because ain’t nobody else going to help you, they’re too busy laughing.

That’s enough for today. Next is what the government can do to help the situation. Lets, make the roads more ‘2 Wheel Friendly’. Teach car drivers to see motorcycles…on and on.

Ride safe, I’ll see you on the road.

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