The Why’s of Motorcycles: Danger

You could look at this whole series of articles on the why’s of motorcycles and sum them up in two phrases:

  • Motorcyclists do [whatever it is the article is about] because they are trying to be safer.
  • Motorcyclists are stupid for riding motorcycles in the first place.

I wouldn’t blame you for thinking the second. That’s because it is true. Motorcycles are dangerous. Compared to cars, you are much more likely to die in an accident on a motorcycle. You don’t even have to look up any statistics (though there are plenty) to know it is true. You just have to get on one and ride around in traffic. If your butthole doesn’t pucker so hard it vacuum-seals you to your seat, you should get your blood-pressure checked. You might be dead already.

So why ride?

Danger

Yes, it is dangerous. There is no doubt about it. But life is dangerous. You make a mistake in a car or walking down a street, or, heck, walking up a stairwell and you very well might die. Think of all the times in your life that you, through accident or negligence, have had your life in jeopardy. It happens all the time.

I’ve known motorcyclists that can quote statistics off the cuff that will “prove” that riding a motorcycle isn’t that much more dangerous than driving a car (or whichever dangerous but more socially acceptable activity they choose for their comparison). Don’t be fooled. Any motorcyclist worth their salt spends a good part of each ride terrified.

I could come up with a lot of really valid reasons why to ride. Gas mileage is great. With filtering and splitting, commute times are shorter. Parking is often a breeze even in congested areas. But it really comes down to one thing:

It’s fun.

Everyone has a hobby. It might be playing football on the weekends with your friends, it might be golf or puzzles or painting. It could be that you collect stamps, figurines, or butterflies. Hell, it could be watching TV.

But, then again, it might be bullfighting, skydiving, snowboarding, or flying planes.

All activities, even siting in your home, have an element of risk. Granted, motorcycles have one of the higher levels, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it safely.

Or at least, less un-safely.

I’m not the best person to ask about safe activities. I rock climb, an activity that most people view as terrifyingly unsafe (it really isn’t). When I’m not doing that, I’m doing parkour – another activity that will get you more than a few raised eyebrows. Am I attracted to danger? Probably. But I’m also attracted to living which is why I do everything as safely as I can.

I can give you a lot of reasons why I ride. There is a lot of freedom that you feel. It’s fun to lean over in a corner and feel that centrifugal force. It is a solitary experience (not unlike rock climbing) where you can’t be distracted by Facebook or your kids fighting in the backseat or anything else. It is only you and the bike and the road. The element of danger requires your concentration so you can’t be thinking about all the other crap going on in your life while riding. It becomes and almost zen experience.

There is so much to love. But that doesn’t make it any less dangerous.

For motorcyclists, riding safely means wearing your gear, being aware of your surroundings, and never exceeding your abilities. Will I crash someday? Maybe. There is saying in the motorcycle community, “There are riders who have come off and those that will come off.” I can’t say I’ve met a motorcyclist that has ridden for any length of time that hasn’t hit the pavement at least once. The difference between the live and the dead ones is often the safeguards they take.

So, while riding a motorcycle is fun, it isn’t worth dying over. I take all the precautions I can. I try to avoid dangerous riding times (rush hours, school release times, Friday/Saturday nights, etc.). I wear my gear. I try not to take any unnecessary chances. In life, if you never did anything dangerous, you’d never do anything. For me, the joys of riding outweigh the dangers. I respect that you may not feel the same.

All I, and other motorcyclists, ask is that you try and help us stay alive. Be aware of motorcycles around you. Remember that the hoons don’t represent all of us (just like the kids drag-racing at night don’t represent you). Together, we can all get to where we are going without anyone getting hurt.

Motorcyclists just have a little more fun on the way.

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