Wednesday, November 08, 2006
More bad press for motorcycles
Video Part One
Video Part Two
To Whom it May Concern,
I was directed to your two-part story on motorcycle crashes in the mountains north of Atlanta via a Usenet post, and as a motorcycling instructor and 28-year rider whose primary interest is in sportbikes, I'd like to make a few comments.
I think the story was somewhat fair in its presentation of the legitimate aspects of the perceived problem, though reported from a glaringly neophyte perspective. For example, throughout the piece, sportbikes are repeatedly subjected to what is commonly referred to in motorcycle circles as 'Cager Logic'. That is to say, a non-rider's expectation that motorcycles are bound by the same operational dynamics as a car or truck. This assertion is incorrect. In the control of a skilled rider, high-performance motorcycles are capable of faster acceleration, faster braking, and better handling than the average four-wheeled vehicle.
Excellent examples can be found within your story itself, such as when the orange Kawasaki decelerates from 153 MPH to around 30 MPH in only a few seconds. Also, the footage of bikers passing on double-yellow lines exemplifies how much more quickly and safely a motorcycle can pass than a car. Note that many of the bikes who passed your reporter on the double-yellow were back in the proper lane well before the vanishing point in the road ahead -- something a car can't do.
This brings me to the crux of my commentary, which is to say that we sportbikers live and ride in an environment where traffic control devices and markings are engineered and implemented with the average car's limitations in mind, which instantly puts us in a position to be law breakers. This statement is not intended to excuse some of the legitimately irresponsible riding behaviors you showed in the piece. It is merely intended to explain that motorcycles sometimes are entitled to special considerations in traffic due to their higher technology, some of which are needed to keep the rider safe (i.e. lane splitting), and some of which simply exploit the advantages of riding a motorbike (i.e. fast passing and higher tolerated speeds).
Reckless, inexperienced riders cause the majority of the problems in riding environments such as your Georgian 'Loop'. But such antics do not justify forcing a rider to doddle for miles behind a slow-moving minivan when the rider's intent is to take a spirited but safe ride through the twisties.
The high technology of modern motorcycles is upon us as a society, and we would do ourselves a greater service by learning to accommodate them, rather than demonizing the whole via the actions of a few bad apples.
JOIN THE DISCUSSION ON USENET