After Motorcycles

October 6, 2016

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After Motorcycles

Best figures indicate that last year, 5010 motorcyclists died on American roads.

That represented about 13 percent of all traffic deaths; which was a slight percentage decrease over the previous two years when motorcycle fatalities amounted to about 14 percent of all traffic deaths.

According to the federal Fatality Analysis Reporting System 424 more bikers died last year than in 2014. Exact statistics are difficult to find but the National Safety Council loudly thinks that 38.300 people died on the roads last year and “4.4 million were seriously injured.” In 2002 43.500 people died on the roads and 3,270 of them were motorcyclists. And, at the risk of overloading readers with numbers, it might lend context to know that in 1990, 44,599 people died in highway accidents and 3,244 of them were sitting on motorcycles.

All of that, undeniably, represents far too many buckets of blood. So yesterday a coalition of concerned bureaucracies including the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the National Safety Council announced the launching of a hot air balloon called the “Road to Zero Initiative” which proposes to end all road fatalities within 30 years.

Creamy Filling

From far off, the idea tastes great. The devil is in the smooth, creamy filling. As Wayne Allard, who is vice president of government relations for the American Motorcyclist Association, noticed in a press release yesterday, “During the announcement of this major initiative, no mention was made of motorcycles or motorcyclists, even though the safety of other vulnerable road users – including pedestrians, bicyclists, even joggers – was specifically highlighted.”

Wonder why? Anyone? Bueller? Anyone? Raise your hands when you get it.

Don’t panic if you are quick. So far this initiative only has $3 million with which to experiment. Initially, your federal government hopes to increase seat belt use, install rumble strips, develop more effective ways to spy on truck drivers and keep them from speeding.  The Road to Zero Initiative will also implement “behavior change campaigns” and support “data driven enforcement.”

The strategies enclosed in quotes may need some explanation.

Behavior Change Campaign

A behavior change campaign is a propaganda blitz that is something more than standard public service announcements. Like, imagine a commercial that starts with sunny film footage of a Bobo, a member of the bohemian bourgeoisie – Harley-Davidson’s emerging core demographic – sedately riding a Harley Street 500 to the grocery store while a voice over announcer intones: “Brad Brandywine, a beloved husband, father, raconteur and philanthropist should have lived!”

Next, a stripper in a darkened club explains: “He helped me pay off my student loans.”

Then several, small, multicultural children weep: “He bought us a dog.”

After a quick edit, viewers see a very angry pitbull going: “Snarl. Muff! Fuff! Bark! Bark!”

That is quickly followed by a medium wide shot of many grieving people intercut with a lock off of a mangled Harley-Davidson Street 500 spotted with either red paint or blood: “But he had to get on that damn motorcycle!”

Concerned policemen: “Motorcycle!”

Doctor: “Bad!”

Then quick cuts of many, pretty, stupid, television newz casters saying: “motorcycle…bad…motorcycle…risk…motorcycle…stupid risk…motorcycle…common sense…motorcycle.”

Imagine you, your woman, your children, your dog and your elderly parents all seeing that 400 times a day. A behavior change campaign bombards everybody with a television, a computer, a tablet or a smart phone with many messages like that.


Data driven enforcement would be the bastard child of  “Data-Driven Approaches to Crime and Traffic Safety (DDACTS)” which  “is a law enforcement operational model supported by a partnership among the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and two agencies of the Department of Justice: the Bureau of Justice Assistance and the National Institute of Justice.”

“Using geo-mapping to identify “hot spots” – areas of high incidence of crimes and crashes – DDACTS uses targeted traffic enforcement strategies that play two roles in fighting crime and reducing crashes and traffic violations. The model responds to the competing demands for police services that law enforcement executives face every day.”

The government boilerplate seems to be an oblique way of saying “more speed traps,” “more sobriety checkpoints near entertainment districts,” and “more courtesy motorcycle safety inspections.” It might mean more business for the companies that make, install and monitor traffic enforcement cameras.


The heart of the plan to end all traffic deaths is the proliferation of self driving cars and trucks. Towards the goal of keeping everything the government does as obtuse as possible, the U.S. Department of Transportation calls them “Highly Automated Vehicles” or “HAVs.”

HAVs, get used to hearing that, will eliminate crashes caused by fallible humans who drink and drive, exceed the posted speed limit, talk on the phone and glance at the Google map on the little television screen built into their dashboard. Don’t blame Google. Google is working on its own autonomous vehicle. Blame human beings.

The AMA seems to be the only organization in America which has questions about this inevitable march of progress that will transform America into a risk-free Borg hive.


In yesterday’s testy press release, the AMA’s Allard said, “The questions we have for the coalition and the DOT are ‘Was the exclusion of motorcycles intentional?’ and ‘Is a ban on motorcycles part of the plan to get to zero road deaths? It is hard to imagine how you could eliminate all human decision making from the operation of a vehicle, especially a motorcycle. If autonomous motorcycles were ever developed, no one would ride them. We also are particularly concerned that highly automated vehicles are not being developed in a manner that takes into account the detection of motorcycles.”

“Motorcyclists should have been included in this project from the beginning, either through direct interaction with the AMA or through the Motorcycle Advisory Council,” the AMA groused. “Let’s not let another moment slip by without considering the safety of this important segment of road users and taking steps to secure the future of this popular form of transportation.”

Virtually all national print-news outlets covered the announcement of the “Road to Zero Initiative.” None of them seemed to care what motorcyclists thought about it. It wasn’t much of a TV story. At least not yet. Not until it’s time to introduce America to poor Brad Brandywine.

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31 Responses to “After Motorcycles”

  1. Harley Guy Says:

    I live in a rather small town in Mi. I can ride from one end of town to the other in about ten minutes. In that short span of time I see a minimum of three or four drivers (mostly 20 something girls) looking down at their steering columns TEXTING. Our law enforcement never seems to see these things. Maybe doubling the fines and points would help, but then again, YOU CAN’T FIX STUPID!

  2. Skagg Says:

    Malthus would not approve.

  3. Brad H Says:

    I ment “no” serious charges have been filed. Typo.

  4. Brad H Says:

    Last year, a man I’ve known since the early eighties was run over on his bike by a driver who pulled across 5 lanes of traffic and killed him. The driver was charged with DUI and distracted driving, not vehicular homicide, manslaughter, assault or even reckless endangerment.

    Just about a month ago, a man I knew was killed when a pickup pulled the old left turn to hurry in front of you trick. The rider laid the bike down and slid under wheels of the negligent driver. A newspaper article described the rider was speeding and was affiliated with certain motorcycling organization. The article went on to review his criminal history. Not a single word was mentioned about the worthless cocksucking, motherfucking asshole that just had to get into that parking lot before all the spots up close to the door were taken! To my knowledge, now serious charges have been filed against the prick.

    How many of y’all have similar stories? Several other posters have stated nothing will change until drivers are held accountable. I agree.

  5. Sieg Says:

    “…Especially the fucking Asians…”

    I dunno….just doesn’t have the same ring to it as “YOU DRIVE LIKE A NIGGER!!!”

    You want excitement, come ride the Nairobi 500, a.k.a. the Dan Ryan southbound anytime after 16.00.


  6. Elmo Blatch Says:

    Live from Roland Hts, California.

    Teach cage drivers to drive! Especially the fucking Asians. For fuck sake I get the whole no peripheral vision thing but put down the cell phones and shut of the fucking tv’s in those minivans and pay attention.

  7. Shutup Says:

    Rebel, this is part of U.N.’s vision zero. And no I don’t think motorcycles are part of their idea of the future.

  8. Hangaround Says:

    Rebel, you forgot to add this to your Orwell quote “”Arbeit macht frei”.

    Carry on!

  9. stroker Says:

    I agree with all the concerns stated above. However, I kinda like the Lit C1 gyro cycle! I can imagine riding to work in the rain….DRY!

  10. swampy Says:

    While reading Rebel’s story I had a vision of those little round cages that hamsters roll around while inside. Maybe they could make those “HAVs” with a program that detects when a driver is doing something stupid behind the wheel and head for the nearest lake or river.

  11. xplor Says:

    Motorcycle safety is a Oxymoron. A few folks are born to ride on the edge to live life. They are the pioneers, explorers and those that make life better for the rest.

  12. popeye Says:

    The truth is motorcycles are safe. Its almost always someone elses fault in a crash. If cars were outlawed there would be very few motorcycle accidents. Start locking up drivers who kill riders

  13. Wretched Man Says:

    @ Fozz & AK Rack
    Full support from me

    I have a friend who suggested the removal of all air bags from cars
    This would be similar to removing the warning labels off everything and help weed out the morons…

    I live in a country the size of Texas, where we have approx. the same amount of annual deaths on our roads with perhaps 6 million road users…
    I can with all confidence say that HAV’s would not make it to my continent thankfully…

    Ride safe

  14. deuce Says:

    The public perception of “bad” motorcycles already has a good foothold. I ride almost every day. My commute is about 70 miles, one way. This is the bullshit I hear…”aren’t you cold, aren’t you hot, why are you riding in the rain, aren’t you getting a little old for motorcycles, after all you’ve been through( 2 nasty wrecks; both times clobbered by distracted cagers, by the way), I’m surprised you are still riding those death traps” and on and on, ad nauseum.
    It wouldn’t take much for the government to pull this off. An ad campaign like Rebel describes would probably do it. We have become a nation of stupid physical and mental weaklings. Ride free while we still can, my friends.

  15. ak rack Says:

    Fr. Abraham, My apologies, no disrespect intended; I just realized I mis-spelled your name in my previous post. As slow as my fingers are, they are still apparently faster than my speed of thought.

  16. fozz Says:

    watched a program on the idiot box where a ,I think was a doctor said “put a steel spike in the middle of all cars steering wheels 2 inches from the drivers forhead , there would be no car accidents

  17. Floyd Says:

    “I’m here from the gummint, and I’m here to help!”

    Right turn Clyde!

  18. ak rack Says:

    Fr. Abrams, I wish I could take credit for the plastic hat thing because it cracks me up too, but I stole it from Rebel.

  19. ak rack Says:

    Ok, just one more post on this topic and I’ll let it rest . . .

    Child of the 60’s, the first 20 years of my driving experience was in Volkswagens. My favorite repair manual was written by John Muir: “How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive: A Manual of Step by Step Procedures for the Complete Idiot”. It must have been a good manual because it let me, a Complete Idiot, keep my bugs and buses running with little help from the pros. I still remember his words on safety that I wish the knuckleheads running the “Road to Zero Initiative” and proponents of HAVs would heed:

    “If safety equipment like seat belts, rubber baby bumpers, folding steering wheels had lowered the accident rate, I’d be for it but I feel it has increased accidents. If your car is properly maintained, with good brakes and steering, clean windshield with wipers that work and all that, then your safety is a direct function of what you are — what you are as you whistle down the road. If we constantly drive as if we were strapped to the front of the car like Aztec sacrifices so we’d be the first thing hit, there would be a helluva lot less accidents.”

  20. Fr. Abraham Says:

    Bone Head, I’m not gonna lie. I read AK’s remark about the “stupid plastic hats” and laughed my ass off. I love this site!

  21. Sieg Says:

    Wish it was possible to post pix…I still have the ER cartoon from, I think, 1977, showing a suit walking up to two scooter-tramps working on a chop, he sez “HI! I’m from the DOT and I’d like to ask you…” At which both scooter-tramps whip ’em out and start pissing on him.


  22. Cookie Says:

    Stop putting more electronics in cages! And put in a device that turns off their cell phone when they start it up.

  23. Bone Head Says:

    ak rack Says:

    “…The last time we got made safer we had to start wearing these stupid plastic hats to make a run to the grocery store…”

    You just summed up my fears.

  24. Hans Says:

    Reading this article made me think of the song Red Barchetta, by Rush, Which is based on a short science fiction story “A Nice Morning Drive,” written by Richard Foster in the November 1973 issue of Road and Track. The song’s story takes place in the future where most cars are restricted, and “massive Modern Safety Vehicles (MSVs), capable of withstanding a 50-mile-per-hour impact without injury to the driver” are dominating the roads.

  25. ak rack Says:

    I’m pretty sure the people that want to make me safer haven’t figured out yet that if they just manage to live safely and healthily enough they can dramatically increase their odds of dying slowly, painfully, alone and forgotten in some god-forsaken nursing home . I don’t want them making safety decisions for me. Like I have a choice, huh?

  26. ak rack Says:

    A non-denominational prayer:

    Dear god please don’t let DOT make motorcyclists safer! The last time we got made safer we had to start wearing these stupid plastic hats to make a run to the grocery store. Even in 25 mph zones where we get passed by fit bicyclists with those funny kind of like welders caps on. We already have our safety under control if you could just, please god, make the cars and trucks stop running us over.


  27. Moonshine Says:

    Just lost a brother of mine to a wreck a few days ago. Mysteriously even though he was killed at a busy intersection no one saw anything at all. I bet if they actually punished drivers for killing bikers the number of fatalities would be drastically reduced. It is immediately assumed the bike was in the wrong in all crashes.

  28. jonny sumo Says:

    perhaps they could save lives by teaching cage drivers how to see bikes? I would suspect that few of the ‘I never saw him’ brigade have ever cast their leg over the seat…perhaps that should be compulsory as part of driver training…a period of riding a bike?
    Just my thoughts, respects, J

  29. Paladin Says:

    It might be time to launch a campaign called the “Road to Zero Bullshit” which purposes to end all useless government bureaucracies within the next four years.


  30. TX_Biker Says:

    Sorry I meant to post sooner but my computer froze up, then i got the blue screen of death and when i tried to login with my laptop the WiFi was down….hope that never happens in my HAV…..

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