Cycle Sales Up – Organ Waiting Lists Down?

Justin Berkowitz
by Justin Berkowitz

The Detroit News is reporting that sales of motorcycles and scooters are way up– a sort of positive-spin story to balance out the doom and gloom of gas prices and some bad finances for other Detroit-based businesses. Yes, many motorists are so loving the low cost and high mileage of their scooters and motorcycles. You know why they get great mileage? Low weight. Why such low weight? Because they're just engines with wheels. We have safety standards for cars for a reason– including crumple zones, federal crash test performance, brakes, airbags and seat belts. Scooters and motorcycles are allowed on the roads merely because they have been grandfathered into legality. If there was no such thing as a motorcycle until now, and someone invented them, you can be sure they wouldn't be road legal. There's a reason EMTs like our own Stephan Wilkinson call motorcycles "donor cycles" and would like to see them disappear. And speaking of EMTs, what's the impact going to be on ambulances and emergency rooms as cycles become more widespread?

Justin Berkowitz
Justin Berkowitz

Immensely bored law student. I've also got 3 dogs.

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  • Pch101 Pch101 on Jun 11, 2008
    I could defer to Pch101 to dig up some statistics about the rate of number of accidents - both fatal and non-fatal - I would bet it is dramatically increasing. You would be wrong about that. In 1995, there were 6.7 million accidents that caused fatalities, injuries or property damage. In 2005, that figure fell to 6.16 million. So the total number of accidents fell by 8%. During that period, miles traveled by cars and light trucks combined increased by 23%, an increase of 521.2 billion miles. Yet there were 576 fewer deaths and 746,000 fewer injuries. Over that same period, motorcycle miles increased 10%, by 973 million miles. But 2,326 more people died (an increase of 104%), and 30,000 more were injured, an increase of 53%. Only motorcycles performed in this manner. Over this period, fatalities for drivers of cars and light trucks fell sharply, fatalities for heavy trucks increased at a level on par with their increase in miles traveled. There's no other way to slice it. Passive safety creates enormous benefit. Motorcycles are paying the price, because there is very little anyone can do to improve their passive safety. Active safety is necessary, but as a tool for saving lives, enthusiasts grossly overestimate its value. It is difficult to compare international statistics, but it is apparent that nations with stricter licensing regimes with the US do not necessarily have safety gains to show for it. Everyone points to Germany and UK, while conveniently forgetting countries such as France, Italy and Spain that have tighter licensing requirements but more fatalities. At the end of the day, accidents are not caused by a lack of skill, but by operator error and selfish behavior gone awry. Passive safety is the most effective way to create results. Active safety is the Miss America dream plan that will be nice to chat about, but it isn't going to work.
  • Jgh Jgh on Jun 11, 2008
    Passive safety is the most effective way to create results. Active safety is the Miss America dream plan that will be nice to chat about, but it isn’t going to work. It's only a "dream plan" because nobody wants to take responsibility [attempt] to make it a reality. This opens up a whole new can of worms (don't get me started) about social apathy and its destructive effects. In business, in society, in safety - the "soft" components (the intangibles, such as behavioral change) are always dismissed because they are deemed inconvenient, and they are difficult to measure the effects. In reality, they can achieve monumental change. I'm not arguing the passive safety point. But brushing off active safety is pure negligence - negligence which is pandemic in our society, and ultimately unsafe for all of us who travel the roads. Example - If I get clipped by an inattentive driver on my bicycle tomorrow, despite my best efforts to avoid the problem... yes... one could argue my time was up. But wouldn't it be a better world, if that one person knew better than to be yakking inattentively on their cell phone as they make a left turn without looking? Miniscule personal effort to change... incalculable results. Furthermore, there's no such thing as an "accident". Operator error dominates 99% of all incidents, malicious or unintentional. This goes for both car and motorcycle drivers. If motorcycle deaths are on the rise (as your statistics indicate) then we need to make sure we get a handle on that... just because you drive a car doesn't mean you're exempt from having to care... because people in cars are still part of the equation. SHARE THE ROAD (again and again and again)
  • Stephan Wilkinson Stephan Wilkinson on Jun 11, 2008

    This is sort of like arguing that people should read more good books, listen to more inspired music or go to the gym five times a week. All of which I do, but I doubt many other people will, and who am I to tell them to? The vehicular trend is inevitably, irreversibly going in the direction of technology replacing driver skill--no, don't tell me you hate that, neither I nor the rest of the motoring world cares about your enthusiast opinion. I was just thinking this afternoon that GPS nav systems should be programmed, if a driver has chosen to follow a mapped route, to activate the turn signals whenever necessary. Eliminate, at least for route-following drivers, all those complaints about "morons who can't remember to use their turn signals." I think that tech-y enhancements such as this will be infinitely more useful than endless calls for Germanic driver tests and private-pilot-level skills required of drivers. You may not like it, but nobody cares. And yes, that's terrible, awful, unfortunate. But it's also reality.

  • Landcrusher Landcrusher on Jun 12, 2008

    "Share the Road" is a lame slogan that doesn't really tell people what to do. I lived in Nashville in the eighties. Everyone there drove so courteously they were unpredictable. They also didn't follow the rules of the road well. But hell, they were SHARING! We need a slogan(s) that imparts some more specific ideas, and gets people working together to get everyone on their way faster and safer. Driving in Houston used to be like that in the seventies. If you put your blinker on, a hole appeared. It was different. OTOH, we used to shoot more drivers back then for NOT playing well with others.