Jim Walsh's Big Hairy Weblog Thingy

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Uneasy Rider

A new study says motorcycle fatalities are up sharply.

Some cite the relaxing of helmet laws in many states and that may be a factor. Still, I support the right of adult riders to decide for themselves (and take their chances).

I suspect a much more important factor is that more and more aging baby boomers are buying bikes, because they've always wanted one, or because it's cool...

...and they have little or no experience in riding the damn things.

Half of all motorcycle accidents involve people with six months or less of actual riding experience. Now imagine some fortysomething year-old yuppie, whose entire riding experience consists of a couple of turns on a friend's Mini-Bike as a teenager, buying a full-size Harley hog, and lightin' out for the open road.

Your proverbial accident waiting to happen.

If you wanna learn to ride, here's some advice:

First thing: take the ABATE safety course. You can find your local chapter on the web, or get a brochure at your local bike dealership.

Don't get a bike that's more than you can handle. Start on something small, like a Honda Nighthawk 250 (my first bike). From there move to something midrange, like a Sportster 883.

Wear a helmet. I don't agree with mandatory-helmet laws, but I do believe in helmets and I never ride without one.

Here's a good piece of advice from Jay Leno: Don't ride when you're in a hurry. In other words, if you have an hour to get somewhere and it's ten minutes away, take the bike. If it's ten minutes away and you have ten minutes to get there, take the car.

The alcohol threshold is much lower for a bike than a car.

Remember: most drivers don't really see bikes, even when they're looking right at them. Ride defensively and err on the side of caution.

Statistically, most motorcycle accidents happen at intersections.

When in doubt, slow down.

And learn how to fall. Every biker has to "lay it down" sooner or later.

First and foremost though, take that course. It will even make you a better car-driver.

And when you're in your car, watch out for bikers. They're out there.

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