Saturday, October 07, 2006

Some good news and some fun.

Yesterday was Katie's birthday and tomorrow is our 29th anniversary. However, in between times, I am making a little time to post a blog entry. Got to keep your priorities, right? Am I first and foremost a husband or a motorcyclist? That sounds like a funny question but riding is that much a part of me. It's who I am, it's what I do. I came across this and wanted to share it with you.

It seems like we motorcyclists, especially those of us who commute, are in a Rodney Dangerfield situation. We don't ever get no respect, you know?

Most people think it's deserved. Like any other avenue of life, there's a few idiots who get all the publicity. I really hate the sensationalism of the bleeding heart liberal press. They've all got an agenda. So the bottom of the gene pool gets the attention while thousands of us who are responsible barely rate a whisper. The good news is that there are folks and organizations who are looking after us in meaningful ways.

The following information is from the October issue of Motorcycle Consumer News. I subscribe to a lot of bike magazines and pull from each what is useful and entertaining to me. So Dave, I'm giving you credit for the information to follow. ( Dave Searle is the editor )

Under the heading of "State laws get tougher on motorists who kill riders":

A bill including "Clutch's Law" was signed by Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt and will go into effect Jan. 1. Clutch's Law is named in memory of John Michael "Clutch" Clubine who was killed by an inattentive driver. The Missouri law increases penalties for right-of-way violations that result in injury or death of other road users to $1000 in fines and a license suspension of up to 180 days.

In Iowa, motorcycle and bicycle awareness is now part of Iowa driver education, thanks to ABATE of Iowa and the sponsorship of state Sen. Keith Kreiman. Also, similar to Missouri, penalties have been increased for motor vehicle violations resulting in the serious injury or death of a motorcyclist or bicyclist. The new law took effect July 1.

The laws passed in Missouri and Iowa were supported by the American Motorcyclist Association's Justice for All campaign. Other states that have also passed similar legislation this year are: Louisiana, Wisconsin, Georgia, Oklahoma, New Hampshire, Iowa, and West Virginia.

The Tennessee CMT/ABATE group was awarded a $75,000 grant from the state's Department of Safety to implement the "Save a Life" campaign that targets driver education classes in selected high schools throughout the state. The grant enables the group to purchase equipment, produce videos and train volunteers.

( this is the end of the article quotation )

It's a fine thing to see legislation being passed but it's not a magic bullet. I support the American Motorcyclist Association monetarily to help them do what they do to help riders. I've always held the philosophy that you can't legislate morality or intelligence, though. Punitive measures are great but don't help the rider in the first place. ( or their families, for that matter ) I support making drivers more aware of motorcycles because there's a better chance of getting them to look for us when making traffic decisions. Still, who's ultimately responsible for what happens to us out there?

That would be "US". My first advice would be to keep physical and mental skills sharp. Use peer pressure to get the "less than smart" riders to take training and act more responsibly. I know I keep pushing training. I know it's not a "cure-all". But why is that guys think just because they have certain, er, "plumbing" that they automatically know all there is to know about riding a motorcycle? I hate to say it but I sort of fit into that category many years ago.

In 1987 I was the Road Captain of a motorcycle group. I planned the rides, etc. One day a spokesman for the state's motorcycle safety program came to our breakfast meeting. He encouraged us to take the MSF's Experienced Rider Course. You can imagine the reaction. Here we were, a bunch of macho law enforcement guys, having ridden for a lot of years, being urged to take training. "We don't need no stinkin' training!" Somehow two of us ended up going anyway. Guess what?

We didn't know half of what we thought we knew. Larry fell down coming to class because he tried to duck under the ribbons marking off the range. Caught the darn things on the sissy bar of his Suzuki XS 850 and fell right down. This guy was a Multnomah County Sheriff's Office Lieutenant! On top of it all, I didn't know what I didn't know. The experience gave me new skills I had never owned before. More importantly, it opened my eyes to the fact that I had a lot to learn. That's why I became an instructor. I wanted to spread the gospel.

Not to sound boastful, but I'm a professional trainer. The more I delve into the subject the more I find there is to learn. If you think you know a lot, let's sit down and have coffee. We'll see how brightly the light shines. Knowledge is power. The power to save our asses. Literally. Managing traffic is one thing. How a bike responds in a corner is another thing. Understanding the dynamics of a bike's chassis at high speeds can help us make good decisions. Right after we made a bad decision that put us in this spot in the first place. I've come home and told Katie that I made an incredibly stupid mistake and saved myself by my incredibly honed skills. That happens to all of us.

I know I sound intense. Taking care of riders is a passion for me. It all starts with professional training. It lights the fires of awareness that drives us to seek more knowledge and skill. That's why I push it. Ultimately our long-term health as a group of riders begins with what we do as individuals. Friends don't let friends ride ignorantly. Help me and fellow instructors take care of "US".

Here's some fun to top things off with. This is still from the same issue of MCN.


According to The Malibu Times, in early August Malibu residents Zack Howard, 24, and Robert Krafft, 27, drove to the Honda dealership in nearby Thousand Oaks, parked in front and walked in. Howard then sat on a dirt bike and rolled it out a door held open by Krafft. They proceeded to load it into their broad daylight and in front of customers and employees who not only noticed but ran out after the pair.

Employees were able to wrest the motorcycle from the vehicle and Howard and Krafft then sped away. But not before witnesses wrote down their license plate number. Ventura County Sheriff deputies then contacted the pair at their homes. Both turned themselves in and were charged with vehicle theft. But, in between the failed theft and the booking, apparently the two repented their actions and called the dealership offering to bring in beer and quesadillas if they'd let bygones be bygones.

The offer was not accepted. To quote Sheriff's detective Eric Buschow, "It's not the smartest crime I've seen." Ya think?

My note: Takes all kinds, don't it?

Miles and smiles

1 comment:

Steve Williams said...

Wish Katie a happy birthday from central Pennsylvania. And happy anniversary to both of you. 29 years is great! Congratulations!

Your comments about training and safety are right on. I have found that the older I get the easier it is to admit that I don't know things. With riding I started out thinking I was OK. Through the MSF training I realized that while my physical skills were ok my mental ones were almost non-existent. I am grateful that they helped me find the humility to accept this and be open to training and learning in the course and as I ride.

Thanks for the heads up on beer and quesadillas not working to get out of trouble. I'll remember that next time I'm caught wheeling a bike out of a dealer's showroom!