by Victor Wanchena
We as motorcyclists are continually faced with a variety of dangers on a day-to-day basis. The most obvious are the roads hazards that cause crashes or at minimum impede our travel. Less conspicuous is the danger that lies just out of sight. Eroding our rights and privileges as riders, even threatening the very existence of motorcycling. To keep this anti-motorcycle force at bay we need only to do one thing, police ourselves. This rather unpopular concept is so important to us as motorcyclists I am surprised that it is so rarely talked about.
Distilled to its simplest form, we as motorcyclists need to be good neighbors to the non-riding public, both at home and on the road. This encompasses so many aspects of behavior I couldn’t possibly list them all here. Instead we’ll focus on the big ones. First on my list is noise. Nothing seems to incur the wrath of non-enthusiasts more than noise. We all can agree that waking up your neighbors at o’dark thirty when you start your Norton Atlas with unbaffled megaphones is obviously poor public relations, but less obvious is aggressive riding or excessive speed in the wrong areas or times. These are just the highlights, but our conduct as riders has a direct effect on the way society as a whole treats us.
Despite what some may think this is not being nice for no other reason than to be nice. No, if we do not make rules and limits for ourselves someone else will take it upon themselves to do it for us. The internal combustion engine is under attack from various sources. There are individuals in positions of institutional power as well as activists who would see great satisfaction in motorcycle use limited or even outright banned. We need to stand firm against any injustice that might be done to us, but we also need to make sure that our own back yard is clean when we do. A prime example of this are the severe restrictions placed upon personal watercraft. The hours and areas that you can use your legally owned and registered personal watercraft are shrinking on a yearly basis. Why? Their use is limited because irresponsible users created enough animosity among the general public that legislation was created to curtail their use. A friend of mine who works for the AMA says that it is shocking the amount of money they spend to right the wrongs motorcyclists do to themselves. Prime example: A city wants to ban the use of motorcycles on certain streets because of a large volume of noise complaints. AMA comes in and fights with city officials until the ban is scrapped.
Be responsible when you enjoy motorcycling. Irresponsible and discourteous riders paint all of us in a bad light. Let’s help remind our fellow riders of what is continually at risk. If we all do our part motorcycles will drop below the radar of activists and legislators.
So this month ride fast, take chances and do it responsibly.