I rode to work one day last week in between the rain storms. Somebody commented to me that it was a good day to ride. At that time gasoline was pushing $3.00 per gallon and frankly, that had more to do with my decision to ride the bike than the weather.
“If gas keeps going up,” I said, “There are going to be a lot of good days to ride.”
Last year my decision to ride had more to do with the weather, or whether or not I needed to carry something large to work. Now, as gas prices climb toward $4, I find myself in the saddle on days I might have been in the pickup in the past.
Generally I’m pleased anytime motorcycling gets a boost. More people riding means more clout for this demographic, and better treatment from those needing our support —whether politicians or merchants. But this particular force may be driving more problems to the two-wheeled crowd than benefits.
People who buy a motorcycle to save money are less likely to dedicate sufficient resources to safety. Getting an MC license will cost at least $250 by the time you take the MSF course. And those frugal-minded bikers are more likely to skimp on good riding gear. Good gear is expensive. You can get the cheap stuff, but all too often with safety gear, you get what you pay for.
The true enthusiast begins riding in a less stressful environment than the daily commuter. And weekend rides are more often taken with other, more experienced riders who can set good examples and offer advice. Somebody lacking riding experience hopping on a bike and fighting rush hour traffic with the coming work day on their mind is a recipe for disaster.
I won’t advise against getting a bike for the gas mileage, but I will remind those planning such a move that the safety issues don’t change just because you don’t think of yourself as a biker.
－ Guy Wheatley