Notes from Archivist Dan Martin:


The comments below were evoked by a rather slanted report of a now-infamous motorcycle accident involving a national football star.  To jump to the original article, as posted on Sep 13, 2006, Click here.

Here's a quote from that article:

"WASHINGTON (AP) - Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's near-fatal crash on a motorcycle this year reflected a troubling trend: More bikers are getting killed on the road... Late-Blooming Motorheads are part of the problem. "

No, they (LBMs) are the problem.  Way too many rich, professional men - and women - in their 40s to early 60s are grabbing $25,000 in spare cash and zooming their SUVs over to the closest Harley dealer.

There, they acquire the latest in "bad-ass" fashionware and wobble off into traffic on their new two-wheeled cruisers.  In spite of what the image of both fashion and cruiser convey, or what their newly inflated egos are telling them, neither accessorial chic or V-twin thunder confers invincibility.

Many of these middle-aged riders do not make it through their first week (first day in some cases) of Harleyhood without being involved in a serious crash (notice I did not say 'accident'), be it solo or in connection with another vehicle(s).  Within a year, perhaps 15% of these same riders will be dead or (maybe worse) maimed for life.

Most have never ridden a motorcycle in their lives, a few might have ridden a dirtbike or small Honda in high school.  None are prepared for the heavy city traffic, where cage (car) drivers are usually distracted (cell phone, text messaging, ipod, GPS, cigarette, children, etc etc) and routinely run red lights, yielding only to their own road rage.

Here's another quote from the same article:

"Roethlisberger came close to death ... [when] he rammed into a 1996 Chrysler New Yorker that failed to yield"

Funny thing, the article spins the event as if it were somehow the fault of the cycle rider (after all, "ramming" is definitely an assertive act).  NOT REPORTED: The driver of the car was an older (60s) person who, with neither warning or signal, abruptly turned left in front of the motorcycle.  NOT REPORTED: The motorcycle was not exceeding the posted speed limit.  Does it surprise you that such relevant facts were ommited by the reporter?  Not so surprising if the writer wanted to promote an anti-motorcycle spin.

Look, the general aging of the cage-driving population can not - must not - be ignored in these cycle-accident statistics.  But, guess what: Political-Correctness mandates that older drivers must not be inconvienced or singled out in any way (e.g., bi-annual drivers's license expiration with required special testing for renewal) that might offend them.

What about me?  I am now in my late 60s and have ridden scooters and motorcycles without incident continually for well over 50 years - almost daily after my retirement in 2005. Even having had many close calls, I remain unscathed.  Apparently I am both lucky and at least a little skilled - as is my guardian angel - all being contributing reasons for my enduring safety record.

As for me, I will tell you straight out that I am not the rider - or cage driver - I once was.  I rely more and more on good judgement and cunning - the dynamic combination often popularly referred-to as 'wisdom' - to compensate for the strength and reflexes that I know are seeping from my aging body.

Another important thing: If I do crash, my extensive safety gear (helmet, armored gloves, heavy boots, armored jacket, armored trousers) - which I always wear - will go a long way toward preserving my life and most of my body.

Unfortunately, the social aspects of Harleyhood generally discourage use of safety gear, particularly helmets, as being chicken.  This attitude increases the danger of serious injury or death for all the LBMs.

The good news is that most states now require a motorcycle rating (such as passing the Basic Rider Course offered by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation) to drive a motorcycle.

The bad news is that many (most?) LBMs, and Ben Roethlisberger, ignore this aspect of the law.  Being cool can mean that, when you Crash and Burn, you will probably receive serious head injuries - just like No-Helmet Ben did.  How cool is it to drool, Baby?

Riding Tip for all: I employ a simple, safety-practice when riding my motorcycle: "BEWARE OF WHITE BUICKS!"

You see, a white Buick (or white Oldsmobile, or white Cadillac, or white Ford Crown Vic, etc) will most likely be operated by some white-haired old person (like me).  Slow to react, hard of both vision and hearing, these older drivers pose a serious threat to both the motorcyclist and to themselves.  Always stay as far away from them as possible.  If you ever see me in a cage, I'll be piloting one of my two minivans... green or tan.  So far my vision is 20/20 but the hearing is going fast.  I hope to croak before hurting anyone.

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