Sometimes, when reading the news, I think that there is more of something going on than there had been previously. For example, it seemed every time I looked at the Chicago Tribune, story after story was about people being shot and killed.
So, I looked into a bit and found out my impression was correct. The rate of shootings in Chicago is in fact up. Way up.
Another example is the number of accidents involving motorcycles in and around town. Once again, I started looking into it and yes, from a very unscientific survey of Plainfield and surrounding communities, motorcycle accidents are up. Way up.
The crime rate in Chicago will be the topic for another day. Today, I am more interested in the number of motorcycle accidents closer to home. This one matters more to me personally both because I neither live in Chicago nor do I plan on frequenting the areas of the city where these shootings are happening and because my husband just got a motorcycle.
Given the fact that at least in my perception there has been a dramatic uptick in the number of accidents and fatalities, his timing could be better. But, he has just finished the class to teach him how to ride, ride safely, and all the about laws pertinent to owning and riding a motorcycle in the state of Illinois.
One of the things stressed most in that class was the fact that in a contest between the 3,000 or so pounds that are most cars and the human body, even encased in leather and a helmet, the winner will always be the car.
The trick is to not ever get into one of those contests, a feat easier said than done.
Again, I haven’t done a full, scientific study to prove it or get the exact numbers, but there seems to be more motorcycles on the roads than at any time in my memory. This made me wonder why, since there seem to be more motorcycle accidents with catastrophic results for the driver than at any time in my memory.
One of the interesting tidbits I came across is that in a down economy, motorcycle riding and ownership go up. For some, the cost of the motorcycle is offset by the savings in fuel and mileage on their cars. For others, it is a choice made in lieu of a vacation, the thinking there being that they will get more use out of and longer enjoyment from a motorcycle than they will from a single trip to anywhere.
For others, like my husband, it is simply something he has always wanted to do.
I get that, and I too will learn how to ride, in part because being on a motorcycle scares me and I learned long ago that the quickest way to conquer a fear of something is to learn everything you can about it. There is also the fun factor that I’m hoping will prove as true for me as it already has for my husband.
The other half of the fear factor for me has to do with actually being out on the road. I am daily shocked and dismayed by the behavior of other drivers on the road when I am safely (relatively) encased in a couple thousand pounds of steel. The idea of being on the road with some of the idiot drivers I’ve observed without what bikers call a cage around me is daunting to say the least.
At least I can be sure that my husband and I will be what I call the ‘right’ kind of motorcycle riders.
There are those who ride a motorcycle, and then there are those who ride a rocket launcher. The not so PC term is crotch rocket. Both can go very fast and make a lot of noise, but how these two different types are typically ridden is pretty consistent. I am sure it happens, but I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed any motorcycle other than a rocket launcher type slipping in between the lanes of traffic on the highway. It is these riders that give all motorcyclists a bad name, and who are disproportionately involved in accidents where the motorcyclist is at fault.
For now, we have what is called a starter bike. It is all of 250cc’s, which makes it barely bigger than a Vespa. Someday, maybe, we’ll end up with a great big hog, though I’m pushing for one with three wheels. Since I’ll be the one on the back seat, something big, roomy, comfy and even plush, with two wheels under my end will go a long way towards addressing that fear factor. The really big ones are almost as big as a car. Or maybe we’ll just get a convertible.