Wednesday, August 10, 2005


USA Today scored again, this time related to motorcycle fatalities. Yesterday their front page article claimed that motorcycle accident fatalities have increased in the last two years (up 13.9% last year, and up 87% from 1997), while automobile fatalities went down by 3.2% last year. In absolute numbers, there were about 4,000 motorcycle fatalities in 2004, vs. 19,000 automobile deaths.

The article struck a chord with me. First of all, just the previous day, while driving in stop-and-go traffic on the highway, I saw the car in front of me change lanes and hit a motorcycle driver that was trying to pass him on the right. The motorcycle driver skidded to the side of the road and rolled over. He got up and seemed to be fine. Of course he was wearing one of those new space-age motorcycle outfits. Not that much fun in noon-day sun.

Earlier this year there were worse results. First my daughter’s friend was hit by an SUV while turning left at an intersection. He lost his right leg. Then my gardner’s son was hit head on by a drunk driver and was in a coma for two months. He’s back to life, minus one eye and the use of one hand…

Three years ago, at a summer vacation in Durango, Colorado, the highways were blackened by motorcycle drivers. It was, as it turned out, an annual motorcyclist convention. Tens of thousands of motorcyclists from all over the country. Why in Colorado? Because Colorado was one of only two states in the union that didn’t have a helmet law. One of the attendees, the editor of a motorcyclist’s magazine, gave me his view. These guys, he explained, are mostly RUB’s (Rich Urban Bikers). You have to be rich to own those Harleys. He himself, his main concern in life was to keep his name off credit agency listings. He paid only cash. He wanted to tell me about the chip that the government had implanted in his butt, but we were interrupted.

Around the same time, Vespa celebrated its umpteenth anniversary, and the New York Times published a Vespa ad from the 50’s. A well dressed gentleman in suit and tie was driving his new bicicletta near the Duomo of Milan. No helmet of course. A lovely lady, I assume his wife, was sitting side-saddle behind him in a dress. In her arms she held a baby… How our standards have changed…

At work I’m surrounded by motorcycle drivers. Our directors of operations and engineering are both avid motorcyclists. Our director of sales reluctantly stopped motorcycle racing after his second concussion in an accident last year.

A colleague’s wife is an ER doctor.

“You know what we call motorcyclists that come into the emergency room?” she asks me.

“Road Kill”

Later yesterday, as I drove the 90 minute ride from Santa Rosa to Oakland airport I counted the motorcyles I saw on the way. I saw 7 motorcycles among maybe 10,000 cars. Consider that when you think of 4,000 motorcycle deaths vs. 19,000 in cars.

Yes, I’m thinking of starting MAM, Mothers Against Motorcycles.


At 9:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Motorino, not bicicletta.

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