Sev Pearman sent me a link to a recent New York Times article about motorcycle deaths and helmet disuse: Fewer Helmets, More Deaths. The gangbanger approach to scaring the shit out of timid conservative lawmakers (on the rare occasion that gutless crowd manages to come to work) is about to hit the fan, I suspect. If you scroll down the Times’ article watching the graphs shift from “Vehicle Fatalities in the United States” (going down) to “Motorcycle Fatalities” (slightly up) to “Motorcycle Fatalities As A Percentage of All Vehicle Deaths” (way up and rising) to the analysis of how rapidly motorcycle deaths have risen as helmet laws have been repealed, the handwriting is on the wall. We’re toast.
Even a slight shift from cowardly conservative legislators to more moderate, progressive, liberal legislators who aren’t afraid of big bad biker gangsters (or banker gangsters) saying “boo!” really loudly in the hallways of state houses will cause a solar winds change that might blow motorcycles off of the public roads in a generation. Honestly, I suspect that a basic helmet law might do the job. One reason motorcycle deaths are rising is because the lack of helmet laws attracts a certain generally-incompetent class of people to motorcycling. If those people are forced to wear helmets and obtain training (real training, not the minimalist crap we do currently), they’ll drop out of motorcycling and that Harley/Victory/Indian/Star market will vanish overnight. That shift in economics could be enough to knock out another 30-50% of US dealers, turning motorcycles into a microscopic economic force much easier to ban from public roads.
Real motorcyclists have a moment to grasp here. We can either take the initiative away from the gangbangers and start advocating protective gear, serious training, and laws that put teeth into violations like riding without a license or we can sit by and watch motorcycles become as vital and mainstream as horses and buggies. We’re Americans, so I fully expect us to sit on our hands and whine about change rather than grab it by the handlebars and make the changes ourselves, but I could be pleasantly surprised. I give it about 1,000:1 against.
It’s your move, though. I’m old. I don’t really care one way or another. Nothing will happen quickly enough to affect my behavior or hobbies.