Scott Anthony: Motorcycles and Cars

By Scott Anthony

With four police cars and a dedicated sign saying, ‘Accident Investigation’, I knew the accident on Military Road was messy.

I peeled off to take a side road and the detour took me past the other side of the crash scene. In the distance I could see a motorcycle on it’s side and I silently sent out an affirmation for the well being of the rider as I turned off for the house. Mrs. Anthony came home shortly afterwards and together we took the dogs for a walk through the neighborhood. I tugged my dog up a side road and Mrs. A followed with her dog and soon we were at the accident scene again. I snapped a pic to send to my editor and Mrs. A asked a lady bystander what had happened. “Guy on the motorcycle couldn’t stop… I guess… got tangled up with that gold colored car. They airlifted him to Harborview, he was conscious.”

I dreaded what my wife would now say to me, knowing that I still have my motorcycle in the garage, but she was oddly mute. She was saving it up for later, and sure enough, when we got home she lit into me. “When are you going to sell the bike?” Usually I defend my bike, but this time I was mute and I went out to the garage to look at the machine while I thought about the whole thing. Should I sell it or not?

That’s a knotted question when you have to consider that while you’re having fun with the wind in your face, a small bit of exhilaration in an already too-short lifetime, your loved ones will worry about you hurtling down the road, surrounded by metallic two-ton beasts piloted by people in varying states of consciousness.

Yes, it’s dangerous. And it is fruitless to try to mitigate that danger by listing other dangerous pursuits. I could fall off of a ladder, but at least I almost certainly wouldn’t get run over by a car afterwards. So how much danger is too much in the course of having fun?

Is it just a dumb idea to commute by motorcycle anymore? Maybe that’s an issue of how we transport ourselves as humans. In Asian countries like Thailand, motorcycles outnumber cars by a 2:1 ratio. I have never been in an Asian country, but from the news footage and pictures we have all seen, it doesn’t look very safe to commute there. In fact, a cursory web search reveals that some 75,000 persons were killed and more than 4.7 million were injured in road crashes in Southeast Asian countries during 2003.

Certainly there are a number of factors that contribute to that terrible number like lack of helmets, poor traffic management and bad road conditions. Population density must contribute as well, and it’s unlikely to change because a motorcycle, on average, is far cheaper to own and operate than a car.

I recognize full well the problem with moving your body on pavement at automobile speed when you’re on top of something as unsubstantial as an overpowered bicycle, but millions of us do it and go unscathed everyday.
Is it just a matter of time before every motorcyclist who rides on the road should meet a similar fate?

I would have to lump that question in with any suggestion of mortality. Nobody lives forever, and though there are plenty of ways to shorten our time on the planet, I think it’s important to try and enjoy that time however you wish, as long as you don’t hurt anyone. Still, there is a problem with odds when you consider the playing field. On any highway in this country, cars outnumber motorcycles by far. And while we have well constructed roads and plenty of helmets, it’s impossible to get around the physics of inertia and momentum when it comes to a tangle of car vs. motorcycle.

There has got to be a middle ground. Hmmmm, ground, earth, dirt.
Maybe that’s it !? I don’t have to ride on the highway, I have a car for that.

I can trade my street bike for a dirt bike! This way, I can still have my cake and eat it too. Sometimes I scare myself with logic. Anybody want to trade a nice clean two wheeler for a dirty one? I’ll keep the helmet though. Trees and rocks may not move much, but they’re plenty hard when you meet up with them.

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