Bikers Playing ' and Loose.' Staff
by Staff
One more story, this written by the local cage writer, in the LA Times regarding how dangerous and murderous bikes are. Read it: here

I responded with the following letter, which i copied to Susan Carpenter, the writer who normally writes on motorcycles, but apparently was not consulted for a motorcycle-related story (!). I suggest you read the story then write to Mr. Vartabedian at [email protected], copying it to [email protected] Here is what I wrote:

"Dear Mr Vartabedian,

I opened the paper today and found an article about motorcycles. I was surprised first of all that it was not written by the resident motorcycle expert, Susan Carpenter, but I am also pretty upset that this is the usual hatchet job and that it plays fast and loose with facts, and makes questionable assertions. Let me give you some examples

1. "The carnage only partly reflects the increasing popularity and growing registration of motorcycles."

FACT: I have done a lot of checking of statistics and every time I have found that it not only reflects it, it mirrors exactly the increase in registration, and sometimes lags behind the increase. I will not re-do the checking this morning, but you do have fact checkers, right? I went to the official government sites for the numbers.

2. [Quoting Dennison] "I have seen my fair share of accidents where the motorcycle hits so hard that it kills everybody in the car."

OK, this is about as ludicrous as it can be. Remember, the Gigliotti case was extremely big news. Please try to remember another case recently in Southern California where that happened. The fact is that this is a RARE type of accidents and probably happens less often than the accidents in which young adults on four wheels race with the souped-up sports car and end up killing everyone around them, which I hear several times a year around here. The most common car-motorcycle accident is a car turning in front of an incoming motorcycle because the driver does not see the bike.

3. The crack at Susan Carpenter's review as going to 100 mph towards Angeles Crest.

NOTICE, please that the review says "As I rocketed toward Angeles Crest on California State Route 2" That to me, means that she was on the 2 freeway, since the Angeles Crest IS California State Route 2. Everyone around here (I live in Sunland) refers to the freeway as "the 2" and to the 2 after it turns into the Angeles Crest as "The Angeles Crest." I read that as meaning that she was hitting 100 on the 2 freeway, which goes towards the Angeles Crest, otherwise she would not have said "TOWARD Angeles Crest Highway." I am sure that a quick phone call to your colleague would have cleared that up.

I assume that every time the drivers at LA Times test the sports car of the week (and do you notice that they almost always seem to test expensive cars we cannot afford?) they follow the speed limits scrupulously (I seem to remember a Ferrari test a while back: always going 55, I assume...). I will refrain from going back and pull actual reviews, but this is just a low blow. Yes, we sometimes exceed speed limits. There are safe ways to do it and unsafe. Cracking 100 mph in an urban area is insane. Given that the average speed on the freeways is now about 80, when they move, cracking 100 on a freeway might not be that insane, and BTW, drivers do it ALL THE TIME!!! I am commuting with traffic (80 or so) and almost every morning some idiots (some in that epitome of maneuverability and crash avoidance, the SUV) not only zoom by me at least 10-20 mph faster, but switch lanes and make passes like they are Michael Schumacher, missing cars by inches. I find that a lot more dangerous than my motorcycle. Oh, and I go by them later when the traffic stops and I split lanes.....

4. The last suggestion is the only sane thing in the article, which on the whole shows the usual, trite misconceptions about motorcycles. Do you want to have forfeiture of vehicle, etc. in extreme cases: be my guest. I am all for that.

I know this was an emotional case, caused by a total a**hole on a bike. It's unfortunate, but it is also unfortunate that every time a bike accident is such that it hits the news, there is an immediate rush to either blame the rider (did anyone notice that the accident to the Pittsburgh quarterback was caused by the woman turning in front of him, and that, although helmetless, he was going at the legal speed?), or to trot out the "Bikes are Dangerous" bit and start a scare campaign. Yes, bikes are dangerous in the wrong hands, so are cars and SUV, and many other things. Yes, I can become a convalescent of the state (although I have very good insurance and I doubt it), but then a neighbor of mine stepped off the curb and was hit by a car whose driver was not looking and ended up losing part of her memory and having the equivalent of a stroke. Bikers, if anything, are more dangerous to themselves than to others, and, on the whole, we tend to spend a lot more time honing riding skills and thinking about handling than your average driver. We accept the danger, BTW, and sometimes we like to know that not everything in life is safe. You want safe, buy a tank.

Please leave writing about motorcycles to the professionals.

Giulio Ongaro"

Without necessarily endorsing or discounting either guiliom's or the Times author's views, here's Fred Rau's take on statistics as they relate to motor vehicles: Read Fred on Stats. --MO

Get in your Inbox Staff Staff presents an unrivaled combination of bike reviews and news written by industry experts

More by Staff

Join the conversation