Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Not gone, yet!

As a well known person once said, "The rumors of my passing have been greatly exaggerated." Though it might seem like it, I haven't dropped from the face of the earth. Some may be relieved while some may be disappointed. On the other hand, you're the one who pointed your browser to this blog!

The demands on my time last week were brutal. I don't use that word lightly. On top of everything else that happened, I only got to ride on Monday, Saturday, and Sunday. The rest of the time was spent in rented cars, motels, and puddle-jumper commuter flights with Corporate Executives. One of these days I'm going to write a book about these folks. They seem to live in a totally different world than I do.

Monday night late I got a call from my widowed Mother. She told me she was leaking. After determining that it really wasn't an anatomical aberration but a plumbing problem, I jumped on a bike and made the trip out. The metal pipes under the kitchen sink in her 30 year old house had finally given up the ghost. From dust pipes are created and to dust they were determined to return. As soon as a store opened Tuesday I obtained supplies and built a new drain system. The chore was finished just in time to clean up and rush to the Eugene Airport. Next thing I knew I was in Sacramento, California. The next couple of days were spent with the Execs in visiting distributors in Northern California and Southern Oregon.

I returned in time to teach a class this weekend. In the meantime, both my Mother and my middle son were involved in separate car wrecks. Everyone came out ok physically. There's a couple of cars with bent sheet metal, though. Blogging got pushed off the immediate schedule. Be warned, though, I'm baaack!!

The time away from blogging has created a huge backlog of ideas. There's stuff just straining to become part of posts. I'm going to do my best to let things spill out in some sort of entertaining and informative way.

I've tried real hard to stay away from political commentary. After all, this is a blog about riding, and riding to work in particular. I write about motorcycle safety and training once in a while. That's fair as developing physical and mental skills to manage risk is an intregal part of riding. I'm going to stray slightly into political commentary here. I came across this and it begs for some comments. Here's a press release from the U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Mary E. Peters. I'm going to put it out here for your consideration. I'll reserve my comments for the next post so this one doesn't get too long.

DOT 19-07 Friday, February 16, 2007 Contact: Sarah EcholsTel.: (202) 366-4570

Nation's Top Transportation Official Urges Manufacturers to Provide Free or Discounted DOT Certified Helmets or Driver Safety Training with the Purchase of Every New Motorcycle

Saying “the time has come to make the helmet standard safety equipment,” U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary E. Peters today called on manufacturers to provide free or heavily discounted DOT certified helmets or driver safety training with the purchase of every new motorcycle sold in the United States.

“Helmets and proper training are just as important as brakes or headlights when it comes to the well-being of motorcyclists,” Secretary Peters said. ”We shouldn't be letting any customer take a bike out of the store without a helmet as part of the package. Safety shouldn't have to be an option when purchasing a motorcycle.”

Secretary Peters said only 58 percent of riders wear helmets today, which is down 13 percent from just four years ago. She added that manufacturers could help reverse the trend by getting helmets into riders’ hands and training them how to ride safely, noting that 700 motorcyclists would survive crashes every year if they wore helmets.

During remarks to the Motorcycle Industry Council in Indianapolis, the Secretary praised those manufacturers already providing free training for riders. However, she said she was asking for help from manufacturers because while motorcycles account for only two percent of the vehicles on the road, they are involved in over 10 percent of all crashes. She added that motorcycle fatalities have more than doubled in 10 years and now account for over 4,500 highway deaths and 78,000 injuries each year. Even worse, the crash rate among motorcyclists in the 50 plus age group has increased by over 400 percent, she said.

The Secretary noted that the helmet she was wearing during her 2005 motorcycle crash likely prevented severe head injury. “I know from first-hand experience how effective helmets can be,” she said.

Secretary Peters also said the Department of Transportation was “attacking” the challenge of motorcycle safety on several fronts. Last September, the Department awarded over $6 million in safety grants to states to support motorcycle safety. In addition, the Federal Highway Administration has established a Motorcycle Advisory Council to focus on making roads safer for motorcyclists and will continue work begun by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on a Motorcycle Crash Causation Study to identify why motorcycle crashes occur and find ways to reduce the fatality and injury rates.

End of press release

By the way, everyone thinks that we're going to have a new motorcycle crash causation study because Congress has appropriated 2.6 million dollars for it. We've all heard that the study will be researched by the Oklahoma Transportation Center at Oklahoma State University.

The thing not everyone knows is that Congress added the requirement that motorcyclists come up with matching funds before the original funds are released. The bad news is that motorcyclists and motorcycle organizations need to raise 2.8 million dollars if the study is to be done. The good news is that there will be at least 5.6 million dollars total. The AMA has jumpstarted the effort by donating $100,000.

If you or someone you know wants to help, there's a way to do it. The AMA has started a fund raising effort called Fuel the Fund. The idea is to get all riders to donate an amount that equals what they'd spend on a tank of fuel. There's a website and a mailing address.

www. fuelthefund.com

Mail to: Fuel the Fund c/o AMA, 13515 Yarmouth Dr., Pickerington, OH 43147.

Stay tuned for commentary on the Transportation Secretary's statements.

Miles and smiles,



Aaron said...

Damn those left-turning cars! ;)

I think money would be better spent sending MSF classes to a local hospital of a motorcycle accident victm than purchasing helmets they won't wear half the time anyway.

Bill Sommers said...

You write well for a man that has passed on.

Our local motorsports dealer is a bit ahead of the curve. They often throw in a beanie style helmet for newbies.

It does make me wonder how the helmet industry will take to the proposed plan though. Where is the profit margin on an item that is given away as part of the purchase of the bike? Hmmm...

Have fun,

Combatscoot said...

I think the AMA needs to stop fighting the helmet laws. Most states already require cagers to buckle-up, we shouldn't be exempted. I also think that there should be emphasis on wearing full safety gear, not just a helmet.

Allen Madding said...

5.6 million dollars to discover the chief cause of motorcycle crashes is left turning cars and cars changing lanes abruptly without checking to ensure the lane is clear...

"only in America" - Brooks and Dunn

irondad said...

Good ole aversion therapy, huh?

You're a businessman. Nobody's going to lose money. There's no such thing as a "free" helmet!

We're fighting too many years of a carefully cultured "image".

In one respect you're correct. Some things have changed, though. Like the types of vehicles we share the road with, the things barriers of made of, etc. Check the next post.


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