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Bikers as second-class road citizens | WhyBike? Motorcycle Blog

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Motorcycles are mainstream

By James - 3/28/2007

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My day job is in marketing and I frequently attend events targeting small businesses. Today was an Hewlitt Packard event in the SF MOMA. They were presenting a range of products tailored to solving technology problems faced by small businesses. They had a handful of case studies, mom and pop companies from the US and Canada. One of the businesses in the spotlight was Orange County Choppers. Straight from the Discovery Channel with an HP “The Art of Small Business” bike. The Teutuls were not there but Jason, their designer was on hand to talk about how they use HP computers to design their bikes. I was able to spend a few minutes talking to him about OCC. It definitely drew the most attention by far. Much more than the other case studies.
Orange County Chopper

20 years ago nobody would have cared what technology a motorcycle builder used to run his business. Strapping a motor between two wheels and polishing it did not make you a celebrity. People who rode motorcycles were a minority fringe. But today motorcycles represent a lifestyle, a form of transportation greater than it’s parts. Programs like American Chopper and movies like Wild Hogs show how mainstream motorcycling has become. Some think we are betraying the rebellious roots of true “bikers". Some believe the increase in popularity is good for the sport. I will let you be the judge but I know one thing. They don’t make Pez dispensers for the minority fringe.
Orange County Pez Dispenser

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Bikers as second-class road citizens

By James -

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I was reading the news report where an SUV crossed a highway in the path of a motorcycle and killed the rider and put the passenger in a coma. One of the comments on the news story caught my attention.

Why should an auto driver be responsible for the death of a biker when the same accident if it happened between two autos would have caused some bodywork damage? The biker is the one that decided to take the mode of transportation they are less likly(sic) to survive in.
This is not the first time I have heard this idea. Many people want bikers’ compensation for injuries caused in accidents restricted or denied since they were not taking “reasonable” precautions with their safety. Unfortunately, this reasoning is flawed in a few ways. I am not going into helmet laws here but even with a helmet, gloves, jacket pants, armor and boots, motorcyclists are still extremely vulnerable when a 500 lb motorcycle goes up against a 6500 lb SUV.

I am curious what these people concerned with safety think we should do with pedestrians and cyclists who are taken out by automobiles. Should compensation be withheld since they are not surrounded by steel? Should they not be allowed to walk near the street since automobiles may hit them since they are not very easy to see?

I am also curious where we draw the line when deciding what is reasonable protection. Is it just pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists? Are compact cars, like a Civic, or a Mini, reasonably safe when in a head on collision with an SUV? Should we restrict compensation to them?

The truth is that motorcyclists do choose a form of transport that can be dangerous, but we do not ask for people to violate our right of way. Just because you are in a hurry, or need to talk to someone on the phone while driving does not give you the right to endanger other people on the road. Relying on crumple zones to compensate for poor driving skills is a dangerous strategy for all those around you.

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