Tuesday, November 08, 2005


More nonsense from another non-motorcyclist

As motorcycling popularity in the U.S. peaks at a 25-year high, pseudo-intellectuals from all walks of life are stepping up to tell us everything they don't know about the practice of street riding. This week's featured 'writer' is Michelle Groh-Gordy. Get a load of these gems:

"In a nutshell, lane-splitting in California is legal if it is done 'safely and prudently.' Unfortunately, this philosophy leaves a lot of room for interpretation."

'Safely and Prudently' is standard language in thousands of traffic statutes across all 50 states. It is a purposefully ambiguous piece of legaleze, usually worded as such so that law enforcement officers will have more leeway in making traffic contacts -- which in turn leads to more revenue for the government. With the above quote alone, Groh-Gordy has managed to immediately dismantle her own argument.

"The oft-referred to comprehensive study on motorcycle safety, coincidentally named The Hurt Report, concluded that motorcycle riding between lanes tends to be slightly safer for a rider than if they were subjected to frequent stops along with the rest of the driving population. I would feel more comfortable throwing my hat behind a more current study, however. It seems to me that traffic conditions might have changed just a smidge since the 1970s, when Harry Hurt was doing his research."

Don't bet on it. American traffic control systems are exactly the same as they were in the early 1980s when Dr. Hurt released his study. The only substantive changes are to be found in the existence of additional congestion in a metropolitan areas, along with the perpetuation of urban sprawl -- both of which would tend to further bolster the Hurt findings. My guess is that Groh-Gordy hasn't even bothered to read the causal data in the study.

"My side of the coin comes from an admittedly narrower perspective: that of a vehicle driver who never manages to actually see the motorcyclist that is cutting between the lanes until the roar of their engine is in my ear and their bike has already passed by."

Because she's probably talking on her cell phone, ignoring her rear views, practicing poor lane discipline, and generally pretending that her SUV makes her goddess of the roadway. The attitude that motorcycles deserve no special consideration in traffic is typical of the average Starbuck's-slurping, XM radio-dazed commuter.

"According to published California DMV statistics, in most accidents between a car and a motorcycle, the driver of the car is at fault."

Damn straight. Because the vast majority of them are 90-IQ lemmings who view their car as an appliance, rather than a vehicle to be piloted.

"I truly have no issues with motorcycle riders in general..."

Perhaps that's part of the problem. People don't want to be bothered with any condition more than 5 feet in front of their hood ornament while driving these days. Every driver should adopt as a personal issue that motorcyclists are to be given, not the same amount of attention and care as other motorists, but ten times as much. And until motorists are willing to adopt that mentality and attitude, bikers will continue to be creamed in silly ways.

"I'm afraid that I look at lane-splitting as the adult equivalent of running with scissors -- you just can't help feeling that sooner or later something bad is going to happen."

Well, you're wrong, Michelle. You see, lane splitting is more than a congestion reducer or a convenience for road denizens who are willing to accept and manage more risk by motorcycling. It is a tool that can literally save a biker's life, especially in situations where we're being tailgated, crowded, or flat-out ignored by others. Furthermore, lane splitting is such a proven tool that Texas is currently considering legislation to legalize it, which needs to happen, since all motorcyclists must do it from time to time anyway as a point of simple survival.

Yes, we get angry at articles like yours, Michelle. And if you want to truly understand why, become a motorcyclist.

BIG-TIME UPDATE: Those of you who've been following the drama concerning this article via Usenet are aware of the fun, but here's a rundown of the happenings as of 9 p.m. on November 11, 2005:

1. Someone claiming to be Michelle Groh-Gordy posted to both Usenet and my private email account, threatening immediate legal action if I did not remove this article. If only stamping out bad reviews were that easy, aye?

2. I responded to both e-mails I have for Groh-Gordy, explaining that quoting media for review purposes is called journalism, does not violate copyright law, and that I most certainly would not remove the blog post, nor is it even possible to delete a Usenet post once it has been archived.

3. Five whole minutes later, I get an email claiming to be an attorney at NetEnforcers.com, telling me that I will be sued if I don't remove the article. I tell them to fuck off, call my attorney, and copy the email's header to Reeky to be traced. As it turns out, the email is a complete forgery, having not originated from NetEnforcers.com at all.

4. The fraud is exposed for what it is, a poorly executed hoax in violation of federal identity, fraud, and spam laws.

5. There is a sudden, calm silence throughout the Force.

We'll probably never know if the person who sent the messages was even Groh-Gordy at all. But she's been made aware of the situation via carbon copy.

Finally, I notified the Rutherford Institute of the emails, just in case this thing is for real.

Note to writers, actors, and musicians the world over: You can't yell "copyright violation" just because you don't like how someone reviewed your article, movie, or song. It's called free speech, and it's what makes America great. If you're into censorship, I recommend China or Syria. They'd love to have you.

UPDATE TO THE UPDATE: It has been confimed that the real Groh-Gordy had nothing to do with the Usenet posts. Which means that someone has made a felon of themselves for the purposes of attempting to fool Reeky. Some people have truly sad lives. Our imposter is indeed one of them.


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