How do you respond to non-riders who say “motorcycles are dangerous”?

It’s difficult to explain the mental clarity and focus that comes with responsible riding to those that haven’t tried it. After some close calls, you begin berating yourself for lapses in attention or judgment. Then you start to realize that driving a car is also very serious business. Or at least it should be.

Paradoxically, the inherent increased risks of riding a motorcycle vs. driving a car seem to make me safer on my motorcycle than a car. Between ABS, traction control, airbags, etc., it’s pretty hard to get seriously injured in most car accidents. Even relatively serious accidents have people walking away from them with just bruises most of the time. This means people often take risks in a car that they wouldn’t on a bike. In a car you will gun it through the yellow light, or try to zip around another car with less than optimal clearance. On a bike, I don’t take those chances because the downside is far greater than a dinged fender.

Nothing compares to the feeling of cruising down the road on a motorcycle. It’s a visceral thrill that a non-rider wouldn’t understand – and it outweighs any increased risk. For me, riding my bike is 10x the fun, so even if it’s twice as risky as driving, it’s worth it.

When someone says to me that motorcycles are dangerous, I try to tell them that I understand and accept the risks. I’ve taken steps to mitigate those risks, including wearing safe riding gear and attending safe riding courses.

And at the end of the day I feel any remaining risk is worth the experience.

How do you respond to someone who says motorcycles are dangerous?


About brent
Motorcycles, movies, music, photography, politics. These are a few of my favourite things.

One Response to How do you respond to non-riders who say “motorcycles are dangerous”?

  1. Bucko says:

    I totally agree. The way I see it is that the risks boil down to two things: the risk of getting into an accident is in many ways only as risky as the driver (just as in a car, and as you say there’s moral hazard involved when driving in a car so you begin to take more risks then you otherwise would), and of course there’s always a certain amount of luck that has to be factored in. Though with luck, if you take the proper precautions and have practiced the appropriate emergency maneuvers you find your reflexes can really kick in. I had a situation like that when my back wheel skidded out as I was turning out into traffic after a heavy rain. I reflexively pulled in the clutch and was able to level out the bike in enough time to merge with traffic before the oncoming car caught up with me.

    The thing that gives people the impression that a motorcycle is more dangerous is that if, god forbid, you do end up in an accident the consequences are usually much worse than in a car. So barring the unlucky circumstances which often tend to be the result of negligent car drivers (blind left turns and sudden lane changes without signal, and even with those one can be somewhat prepared to respond), without the level of moral hazard seen in car drivers, you can be quite safe on two wheels. Not to mention, it’s just so much fun!

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