Sep 9, 2016

Motorcycle Head Count

Sometimes I like to generate my own statistics, just to see of the published data bears any resemblence to actual highway experience. This afternoon, I rode from Red Wing to Rosemount and back, mostly because I screwed up and didn’t see the email yesterday rescheduling the MMSC coaches’ night at DCTC to next week. Oh well. While I’m riding my overly nimble WR250X on relatively boring county and state roads, I like to count the number of cars between motorcycles. Today, the sequence went like this:

  • 125 (Red Wing to Hastings, where I spotted the first motorcycle of the day)
  • 800+ (Hastings to Aldis in Rosemount where I stopped and quit counting before buying groceries)
  • 146 (post-grocery shopping in Rosemount, a commuter)
  • 78 (between Rosemount and Hastings, another commuter)
  • 366 (a parked motorcycle at the Hastings dairy)
  • 571 (all the way home from Hastings to Red Wing, not a single bike on the road)

When I’m doing my numbers, I don’t count groups of motorcycles as anything more than one rider. If it’s a pack of slow-moving pirates, I don’t count them at all. That kind of riding is just conspicuous consumption and has nothing to do with transportation. However, on this trip I didn’t even see a pirate parade around Treasure Island. I suspect most of the biker crowd have put up their chrome toys for the season.

Let’s add ‘em up, four motorcycles over 2086 cages or about 0.2% of highway traffic on a perfect motorcycle day in September at and around rush hour. That is one seriously dismal statistic. It absolutely justifies my estimate (from Craig’s List motorcycle want ads) that the average motorcycle is ridden barely 1,000 miles per year.

Now, let’s look at last year’s crash stats. There were 61 motorcyclists killed in Minnesota last year and, oddly, 67 people were also killed in pickup crashes. Combining two types of cages, SUVs and vans, a total of 41 people died in those vehicles’ crashes. So, if you believe there is any legitimate comparison to be made between the miles travelled by pickups or SUVs and vans and motorcycles, I’m all ears. Make me laugh.

On my mid-summer’s trip to Colorado, I went into overload on a couple of long stretches where the count was in the several thousand vehicles per motorcycle. Around Ft. Collins, the stats were more encouraging, but a couple dozen miles west into the mountains and, once the racer boyz were on their way back to the dorm, motorcycles vanished and I didn’t see another bike until Steamboat.

We’re a vanishing breed folks.


RichardM said...

Pretty dismal numbers. I think I counted more today and it was in the mid-30s (°F).

Scott Seidl said...

I suspect you would have counted many more bikes on that "perfect motorcycle day" if you would have rode up the other side of the river. They may not be commuters but they are the ones contributing to the crash statistics.
I ride to work every day I can. Sadly I only see two other riders on a regular basis.

T.W. Day said...

Damn! Where are you, RichardM? 30F in September! And I thought Minnesota was cold and had a short summer.

Scott, I rode WI35 from Red Wing to Hudson and back Monday evening. There were a couple of pirate parades, but I don't count them as anything other than "kids and their toys." There is nothing about that sort of activity that justifies access to public roads for the societal cost. Otherwise, the numbers were pretty similar until I got to Prescott, where there were dozens of cruisers parked at bars.

RichardM said...

Fairbanks, AK. It has warmed up a bit but mornings are still in the 30s (°F).

T.W. Day said...

Well that makes sense. I suppose that's the high price you pay for having such great roads the 3 warm months of the year?