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Old 01-17-2005, 11:15   #41
BikerGoddess
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Motorcycle safety activists worried about baby boomer deaths
By David Sharp, Associated Press, 1/15/2005 13:39

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) Mike Cullinan broke up with his girlfriend and started a new life. Part of that new life included buying a big Harley-Davidson motorcycle: a 620-pound Dyna Low Rider with a 1,450-cc, fuel-injected engine.

At 38, Cullinan was undergoing just the sort of transformation that happens to many men approaching middle age: empty nest, divorce or just plain old mid-life crisis. Those riders, mostly baby boomers, are driving up the number of motorcycle registrations nationwide.

They also make up the fastest-growing segment of motorcycle deaths.

Across the country, the number of motorcycle fatalities among riders in the 40-plus category has jumped 200 percent over the past decade while deaths among riders under 30 actually dropped, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

''It's really kind of astonishing: The ages of these fatalities are so high. You would think it would be all of the young kids on those fast bikes, but it's not,'' said Carl Hallman, highway safety coordinator with the Maine Department of Public Safety.

According to NHTSA's National Center for Statistics and Analysis, the mean age of motorcyclists killed rose from 32 in 1994 to 38 in 2003. The surge in deaths among older riders helped to push motorcycle fatalities higher overall. They jumped by nearly half during the past five years, from 2,483 in 1999 to 3,661 in 2003.

In Maine, 22 people were killed on motorcycles in 2004, the highest level in a decade. The numbers are even more dramatic in Vermont and New Hampshire.

In New Hampshire, 29 died, compared to nine the year before. In Vermont, there were 11 fatal crashes, more than in the three previous years combined. In all three states, riders in their 30s and older accounted for the most crashes.

Safety experts say many older riders are either returning to the sport after a lengthy absence or have no prior experience.

''From a career standpoint, they have a little extra time and a little extra disposable income. The kids have grown up, so they're looking for hobbies,'' said Rae Tyson, a NHTSA spokesman who specializes in motorcycle safety.

That fits with the experience of many instructors.

''I've seen a definite increase in men in their 40s and 50s getting back into motorcycling. They haven't ridden in 20 or 30 years, so their skills are rusty. Motorcycles have changed, and they're getting bigger motorcycles. And they're getting on without a refresher course,'' said Cathy Rimm, program director for Motorcycle Rider Education of Maine.

No one knows exactly why baby boomers are dying at a faster clip on motorcycles because there hasn't been a national study of the causes of motorcycle accidents since the late 1970s, Tyson said. Motorcycle groups are pressing for an update.

Big, powerful bikes appear to be part of the explanation. NHTSA data show that both engine displacement and fatalities among riders with the largest class of engines rose during the past decade.

Safety officials say older riders thinking about hitting the open road should recognize that their eyesight and reflexes aren't what they once were. They also say the importance of a refresher course cannot be overstated.

''In our experienced-rider courses, we do take into account the way your body changes, that your reaction time will change and that your eyesight will change. There are changes older riders should make,'' said Mike Mount, spokesman for the Motorcycle Safety Foundation in Irvine, Calif.

In many ways, Cullinan fits the stereotype of an older rider.

The repair shop manager from Standish hadn't ridden for 15 years, and his life underwent a big change when he broke off a relationship.

He spent more than $18,000 for his ride, a black low rider with chrome. He freely admits bravado played a role, along with enough income to make it a reality.

''I went for the largest bike I could handle, or that I hope I can handle,'' he said.

Though Maine and many other states require classes or clinics for new riders to get motorcycle licenses, there are no such requirements for a license holder who decides to get on a bike for the first time in decades. No state requires continuing periodic education, said Kathy Van Kleeck of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.

Cullinan said his eyes were opened by the statistics. He has bought a helmet, which is not required in Maine, and he's taking a refresher course this winter so he'll be prepared for taking to the roads this spring.

''I'm hoping I will learn something that'll make me safer,'' he said. ''I'll be riding this spring and summer with my eyes open.''

On the Net:

Motorcycle Safety Foundation http://www.msf-usa.org

National Highway Transportation Safety Administration www.nhtsa.dot.gov/
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Old 01-17-2005, 11:36   #42
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Good article. And very much accurate. Too many guys my age are trying to recapture their youth but going about it the wrong way.
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Old 01-17-2005, 12:28   #43
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Roger that. I am soon to be 38 and have just gotten back into riding after nearly 13 years of hiatus. I probably bought too big of a bike for me (BMW Rockster), but at least I know enough not to get it out on the main streets but keep to the back streets for now until I get used to the weight and the handling of the bike. Not to mention attending the Basic Ridercourse at MSF and loaded up on riding gears.
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Old 01-20-2005, 16:30   #44
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That is definately an interesting article. I would have to ssay the sudden resurgence of older men wanting to ride motorcycles is due to the popularity of motorcycle/chopper shows on TV. They see it on American Chopper or whatever and feel they could be a part of something they might have once wanted be, but couldn't. They go buy a new Harley or chopper(face it the youngins, like me, cannot afford a Harley or chopper), and feel that it couldn't be all that hard. Generally they don't wear safety gear unless they have to. Then they find out there is more to riding a motorcycle than just, twist the grip and turn the bars. It's too late.

I am not condemning the shows. I think it's good TV and is good for the motorcyle market altogether. I am just saying people need to go about things in a more cautious manner.

Now about the "punk kids" thing. I think the reason for the decline of younger riders is due to the fact that some of these "idiots" doing wheelies such have actually been riding bikes and dirtbikes since they could walk. I know some of these "idiots" and some of them are REALLY good riders, not all but some. Is it safe for them to do wheelies on public roads with traffic? No. But, just because they are doing it doesn't mean they are horrible riders and would "pee thier pants if they compressed a fork". Hell, one person I know that does this races 125cc motocross and is EXTREMELY fast.

Alot of people who are into the street freestyle stuff would love to go to an empty parking lot but, the police come to arrest them if they do. They do it on the street so they at least have a way to blend into traffic so they can lower thier odds of a cop seeing them, unlike being a sitting duck with "arrest me" written on them in an empty lot.

Also another reason for death-rates dropping in the under 30 group. Riding gear is "cool" now. The flashy helmets, leather jackets, and gloves show you ride a bike. Flashy or not that stuff will save your butt. Again, the street riding "idiot" made that cool. Why? They KNOW they will wreck at some point, so be prepared.

So you got "idiot kids" whom grew up riding and like riding gear acting like a cocky kid on a bike. Versus some middle-aged guy who decided to take up motorcycles because of a TV show and buys a big bike to be "cool" and does not wear any protective gear because TV says that would be NOT "cool".

I base this on my own personal experience, it may be different where you live, but this is what I see. Also these were quite broad generalizations. Not everyone falls into a catagory, but the rise of chopper-TV coincides quite nicely with the rise of middle-aged motorcycle deaths.
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Old 01-20-2005, 16:59   #45
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Old 01-24-2005, 20:20   #46
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Good article B.G.
I wonder how much of a factor alcohol is in the stats?
Most of the people I know who ride Harleys drink like fish. We have a group of riders in our small town who like to get on their flashy H.D's ( or pseudo H.Ds.) with open pipes in the summer and cruise up to the local watering hole. Later in the evening you can hear them roaring back presumably to their homes. These guys are all 40 somethings.
I am not saying all H.D riders are drinkers. But it goes with the lifestyle they are trying to imitate.
It could also be that there are just more cars to deal with on the road today.
Dr. Harry Hurt authored a ground breaking study on motorcycle deaths. He established at that time, that there was no real relationship between larger more powerful bikes and chance of a fatal accident. Smaller bikes were over represented in the statistics, probably because younger inexperienced riders were more likely to purchase a smaller bike.
My father in law died while riding his bike. He was 74 years old, and a 30,000 mile a year rider. I saw it happen.
It wasn't because he was speeding, drinking, or had slow reflexes.
He was just plain unlucky.
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Old 01-24-2005, 21:40   #47
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That's cause stock Harley's can't go 115 MPH!!!!!!!;f

Sure they can...in the back of a pick-up truck! ;a ;f
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Old 01-26-2005, 04:16   #48
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I'm a R1 rider. Very safe, I have yet to do a wheelie. I do know a lot of people that are morons on bikes and b/c of that I won't ride with them. Riding with people like that will just get you killed.

Today I was at the mall with my wife and I noticed two harley riders getting on their bikes in the parking lot. They were at least 45 years old. Few seconds later we heard them revving their motors, then they TORE through the crowded parking lot. I made a comment to my wife about how it was ironic how the sportbike crowd has such a bad image among cruisers but yet they do the same thing.

I've just came to the conclusion, every type does it. I don't care who you are or what you ride. There are people that ruin it for everyone.

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Old 01-27-2005, 02:30   #49
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Im young and quite often act like an idiot but you dont have to worry about me weaving in and out of traffic at 120 because this is what I ride. lets see what happens to some of those idiots on crotch rockets when you put them on a motocross track.;f
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Old 01-28-2005, 16:10   #50
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Originally posted by glock_19guy1983
Im young and quite often act like an idiot but you dont have to worry about me weaving in and out of traffic at 120 because this is what I ride. lets see what happens to some of those idiots on crotch rockets when you put them on a motocross track.;f
Like I explained before, a lot of the "idiots on crotch rockets" grew up on a motocross track. That's one reason why they love wheelies so much and are skilled at it. They had practice on power-wheelie prone dirtbikes (or quads).
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Old 01-28-2005, 17:13   #51
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OK, I'm, new here, but really HATE it when people classify me as an idiot!:(

I'm a 30 yr old, who has had at least one motorcycle since I was 6. I've been street riding "crotch rockets" ;Q since I was 17. On my third one now, a 2003 Suzuki GSX-R 1000.

Let me turn the tables here. Why are all Harley/Cruiser riders pricks? I grew up thinking all motorcycle riders were one big happy family. Lately that's not true, as evident by your post. I wave at everyone one an a bike no matter what they ride. Cruiser riders never wave, ok, maybe 1 in 100 will. I can compliment a rider at a stop light on his bike, he'll just look at you like you are a moron and know nothing, let alone say "nice bike" back. All they want to do is rev their straigt pipes and want to race their 700 lb. boat anchor with $10,000 in hop up parts to up their hp rating to over 100 against my $9000 150+ hp "junk". Needless to say, haven't lost yet.

Just because you may have the money to afford a HD, doesn't mean you chose wisely IMHO.

I know where you are coming from with your statement, but there is no need to classify all sportbike riders as idiots. I've been witness to way more morons on HD's giving motorycles a bad name than sportbikers having fun by pulling an wheelie now and then. There is no need to be jealous just because your freight train can't pull the front off the ground.

Seriously though, I don't think you're an idiot because you ride a cruiser. Different strokes for different folks I say. The question you should be asking is, "Why do morons exist?". And for that I have no answer.
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Old 01-28-2005, 18:26   #52
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I spent eight years professionally installing car audio, building competition vehicles, so I had access to a quality db meter. One day, just for kicks, we lined up my Honda RC51 with "race only ;Q" Sato exhaust, another co-workers Yamaha V-Star 1500 with Vance & Hines pipes, and my managers HD Softail Classic with Vance & Hines. At 6 feet distance from the outlet of the pipes, moderate to heavy throttle blips, my RC did 114 db, the V-Star did 156 db, and the Softail did a whopping 165 db. But I'm the one who had been questioned by "the man" for loud exhaust. Go figure.
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Old 02-02-2005, 13:15   #53
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Anyone who refers to motorcycles as "crotch rockets" might be an idiot.
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Old 02-02-2005, 13:32   #54
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Quote:
Originally posted by RyanSBHF
I see bad drivers of all types: Young and old, men and women. It's funny that 16 yr olds usually ake fun of elderly drivers while they (16 yo) have the highest accident rate. I've heard some reccoment the driving age be raised to 18. I think it's a good idea myself. What do you all think?
I think that would not solve anything at all. The reason sixteen year olds have the most accidents is due to their lack of experience. If you move the age to eighteen, then you are going to have a bunch of eighteen year olds that lack experience and then most of the accidents are going to be blamed on eighteen year olds.

We need a stronger emphasis on the rules that were created for safety. The best thing we could do is invest in some of those simulators and make the kids drive those about a class period at a time and throw some scenarios at them and teach them how to react to them or avoid them in the first place. Hell, all they want to do is play video games anyway.
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Old 02-02-2005, 15:26   #55
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It would help if the mature riders would act maturely on the road and be examples for the younger and/or inexperienced riders. We have mature riders who are acting like fools on the roads and the kids are going to look at them and say what?

There's a time and a place for everything. Want to ride fast? Go scout out some good portions of a canyon highway that's not a major thoroughfare and go at it. That way if you were to kiss the pavement and kill yourself, you wouldn't cause anybody else to crash and get hurt with you. Wanna do wheelies? Go find an empty parking lot and go at it. The worse you'll get is a traffic ticket.

Of course, there's always the tracks if one were to want to ride like a MotoGP champion. There's no excuse for riding like an idiot on the streets.

And yes, I've been a bit harsh about the "sports bike" riders and made a general statement. But guess what? When was the last time anybody saw a Harley doing wheelie down the freeway? When was the last time you see a Beemer or a Japanese street bike screaming down the interstates at 120-MPH plus? Unfortunately I've seen motorcyclists of all kinds splitting lanes at high speed, so that blame can't be attributed to the "sports bike" riders alone.
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Old 02-02-2005, 15:27   #56
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Lets just ban assault motorcycles, so we are all safer.
Then go for all firearms and then ......
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Old 02-02-2005, 15:59   #57
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I have been riding for many, many years. I am 34. I currently own a Ninja that I worked on for years also. You could liken it to another tricking out his Z28. Anyway, the motor puts out 245hp at the rear wheel with some help from NOS. I have had it with the HP for a few years. If I want to open it up. I head to the track. If I want to ride on the streets, so be it. Use some discretion. To my point, as in anything else, a few stereotype for all. It is amazing how everyone lumps us all in the same group;squids. How many times have you been at a Hooters or the like, see others on their bikes, tear through the lot. Probably the same amount as the squids tearing up the pavement on a metric bike.
Bottom line: There are a few of us who ride a metric bike that are great riders and can show some restraint.

Besides, I want to continue to come home and see my son.
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Old 02-02-2005, 18:23   #58
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Tight bike, bro. Much props.
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Old 02-02-2005, 19:22   #59
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Quote:
Originally posted by fnfalman
When was the last time anybody saw a Harley doing wheelie down the freeway? When was the last time you see a Beemer or a Japanese street bike screaming down the interstates at 120-MPH plus?
I hate to go for the obvious here but none of those bikes (except a few BMW's) are capable of those things. Soooooo.........

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Old 02-03-2005, 11:39   #60
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