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Bikers are older, but not always wiser
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel ^ | July 14, 2007 | ANNYSA JOHNSON

Posted on 07/15/2007 7:30:18 AM PDT by BraveMan

It's been a year since Jeffrey and Christine Konrath of Slinger died in a motorcycle crash in Dodge County.

Except for the fact that they weren't drinking, the Konraths could be the face of motorcycle fatalities today: older riders - he was 45, she was 48 - on a larger bike, killed on a rural road. And neither was wearing a helmet.

It's that last point that most frustrates Christine's daughter Angeline Schreiber. She has little tolerance these days for motorcyclists who forgo protective gear.

"I would never tell people not to ride bikes," said Schreiber, who is raising her 12-year-old half sister since her mother and stepfather were killed.

"I would just like people to think about safety precautions before they do it."

Jeffrey and Christine Konrath were among 93 motorcyclists who died on Wisconsin roads in 2006, up 79% from a decade ago. Over that same time, motorcycle fatalities have more than doubled nationwide.

Much of that can be attributed to the rising number of bikes on the road. In fact, in Wisconsin, the death rate dropped in 2005 to the lowest level since 1996, when factoring in the number of motorcycles registered, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The death rate nationally rose 30% during that period.

Riders and safety officials say they are troubled by the rising death toll and some of the trends they see reflected in the numbers.

"What stands out to me is the significant increase in those killed that are 45 and older," said Dennis Hughes, who as chief of safety programs for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation is implementing new programs to target those riders.

Last year in Wisconsin, 43% of motorcyclists killed were 45 and older, up from around 10% in 1995 and under 2% in '91, according to the state.

"It's that baby boomer generation coming on board," said Hughes.

"Many of them had experience riding bikes. But they're going back to a bike that's a lot different from what they learned on. They're bigger, they're heavier and the maneuvering is a lot different."

Hughes' observations are reflected in the national data as well. Riders 40 and older made up nearly half of the fatalities in 2005, the latest year for which those numbers are available, according to NHTSA, up from 24% in 1995.

Among the other trends in Wisconsin and the nation:

• A growing number of fatalities involve larger bikes with more powerful engines (1,001 to 1,500 cubic centimeters).

• Alcohol consumption and failure to wear a helmet continue to be factors. In Wisconsin last year, 75% of those killed weren't wearing helmets and 47% had been drinking. Nationally in 2005, the latest year available, 35% had been drinking and 43% were not wearing a helmet.

• Of those killed, older riders were more likely than their younger counterparts to have been intoxicated and less likely - at least to age 60 - to wear a helmet. Younger riders were more apt to be speeding.

Brookfield motorcyclists Catherine and Peter Dhein, both in their 50s, aim to defy the statistics. He's taken the Harley Rider's Edge training course, and they always wear helmets, said Catherine, as they readied their Ultra Classic for an overnight trek from Milwaukee's House of Harley to western Wisconsin on Friday.

"We don't drink when we're riding, and we don't drive at night," she said.

Aside from the trends and the growing number of bikes on the road, it's difficult to explain the rising death toll. However, that could change in the coming years.

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation in Irvine, Calif., said this month that it would commit $2.8 million to match federal funds set aside to conduct the first comprehensive study of motorcycle crash causes since the 1970s.

The findings could have long-term implications for riders, manufacturers and policy-makers.

"When that's done, we'll understand why this is happening and what we can do to reduce these numbers, said NHTSA spokesman Ray Tyson.

"We know, for example, that increased helmet use helps, that impaired riding is a factor," he said. "But we don't know what else, for example, things we could be doing to make motorcycles safer."

Wisconsin, in the meantime, has been expanding its rider education programs, adding classes to accommodate the growing demand and targeting some to older or returning riders.

In addition to the standard safety program available through technical schools around the state, the DOT offers a refresher course for returning riders and a new Seasoned Rider program that addresses the effects of aging - for example, declining vision and reaction time. And it is launching a pilot program in the Fox Valley that pairs new or returning riders with experienced mentors.

The state is looking to expand a program tested by a motorcycle coalition in Jefferson, Dane and Waukesha counties that lets riders lock up their bikes in secure storage crates at local bars if they are intoxicated, and federal officials are interested in rolling that out nationally.

In every program, regardless of the age or expertise of the rider, safety instructors stress two recurring themes: the importance of riding sober and proper equipment, most importantly a helmet, said Ron Thompson, who manages the motorcycle safety programs for the state.

"We tell people, if you don't wear it for yourselves, wear it for your family and friends - so you can ride again," Thompson said.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events; US: Wisconsin
KEYWORDS: borntobemild; fatalities; federalfunding; motorcycles; motorcyclists; secondchildhood; waltermitty
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1 posted on 07/15/2007 7:30:19 AM PDT by BraveMan
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To: martin_fierro

Please ping the Hooligans . . .


2 posted on 07/15/2007 7:31:02 AM PDT by BraveMan
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To: BraveMan; martin_fierro

It’s probably like pilots. There are old bikers, and there are bold bikers, but there are no old, bold bikers.


3 posted on 07/15/2007 7:32:26 AM PDT by Larry Lucido (Duncan Hunter 2008)
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To: BraveMan
Keep you helmet laws off of my body!

Actually, I don't ride and do think that it should be up to the rider.

4 posted on 07/15/2007 7:34:37 AM PDT by csvset
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To: Larry Lucido
Well, maybe one old, bold biker.


5 posted on 07/15/2007 7:34:46 AM PDT by Larry Lucido (Duncan Hunter 2008)
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To: BraveMan

Tragic... but that’s the risk you take when you don’t wear a helmet.


6 posted on 07/15/2007 7:36:03 AM PDT by pnh102
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To: BraveMan
“But we don’t know what else, for example, things we could be doing to make motorcycles safer.”
Re-engineer them into sedans!
7 posted on 07/15/2007 7:38:02 AM PDT by Dr. Bogus Pachysandra ("Don't touch that thing")
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To: BraveMan

What this article doesn’t tell us is how many bikers were killed by careless cagers.

In all reality, it might not be the biker’s fault but that of the car drives.

Yeah, I know, it doesn’t matter who is at fault, the biker is still dead, but articles like this tend to blame the victim.


8 posted on 07/15/2007 7:38:55 AM PDT by Eagle Eye (...and one mediator between man and God, the man Christ Jesus. Not Peter, Paul, or Mary.)
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To: BraveMan
I too am alarmed about the trend. I have never had a motorcycle and don’t want one.

Some of the Vietnam Vets I have corresponded with have died in accidents on motorcycles. Seems many people in their early 60’s still riding. I would also say that automobile drivers are more aggressive today toward motorcyclists.

9 posted on 07/15/2007 7:42:22 AM PDT by BeAllYouCanBe (Until Americans love their own children more than they love Nancy Pelosi this suicide will continue.)
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To: BraveMan
"Many of them had experience riding bikes. But they're going back to a bike that's a lot different from what they learned on. They're bigger, they're heavier and the maneuvering is a lot different."

LOL...I'm bigger and heavier and maneuver differently from when I first learned!

I'd rather have my 800lbs and 1700 cc than my old light 650cc!

10 posted on 07/15/2007 7:42:45 AM PDT by Eagle Eye (...and one mediator between man and God, the man Christ Jesus. Not Peter, Paul, or Mary.)
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To: csvset

Seat belt laws need to go as well.


11 posted on 07/15/2007 7:43:18 AM PDT by Hazcat (We won an immigration BATTLE, the WAR is not over. Be ever vigilant.)
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To: BraveMan

Riding days are way over but everyone will kiss the pavement at least once.........eventually.


12 posted on 07/15/2007 7:48:12 AM PDT by vietvet67
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To: BraveMan

Brain Bucket Bump

2X2 Bump (2 Wheels 2 drinks)

T-Bone Death Bump


13 posted on 07/15/2007 7:49:38 AM PDT by JoeSixPack1 (Think not of today.)
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To: Eagle Eye

Thank You!

Perhaps people would be better served if Angeline Schreiber directed her frustration towards the type of drivers who violated her parents’ right of way, causing the fatal accident in the first place. If we are to really change these gruesome statistics, we need to stop focusing on motorcycle accident survival and start focusing on motorcycle accident prevention.


14 posted on 07/15/2007 7:49:50 AM PDT by BraveMan
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To: Eagle Eye

Thank You!

Perhaps people would be better served if Angeline Schreiber directed her frustration towards the type of drivers who violated her parents’ right of way, causing the fatal accident in the first place. If we are to really change these gruesome statistics, we need to stop focusing on motorcycle accident survival and start focusing on motorcycle accident prevention.


15 posted on 07/15/2007 7:49:51 AM PDT by BraveMan
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To: Eagle Eye

Why is it that if somebody gets thrown from a horse or smeared on a bicycle everybody feels sorry for them but if you get murdered on your motorcycle people think you had it coming?

It also fails to consider that endlessly rising fuel costs are making the motorcycle a more attractive alternative every day. Not everybody can afford a$40,000 hybrid.


16 posted on 07/15/2007 7:50:29 AM PDT by ichabod1 ("Liberals read Karl Marx. Conservatives UNDERSTAND Karl Marx." Ronald Reagan)
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To: Larry Lucido

I’m not sure if this is a nation wide trend but where I live there are a large number of people 40 or older that are new bike riders. They can finally afford the bike they want and think they can just hop on and ride like a car. I’ve seen guys flop over at stop lights because they forget to put their feet down. Others lock up the front breaks first in an emergency stop.

You can usually spot a new rider because all their clothes are directly from the Harley catalog and are still shiny. I’ve even seen Honda riders dressed in Harley clothes. I guess it raises their testosterone levels.....


17 posted on 07/15/2007 7:52:40 AM PDT by Dutch Boy
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To: Dutch Boy
I’m not sure if this is a nation wide trend but where I live there are a large number of people 40 or older that are new bike riders.

Perhaps I'm in the minority but I'm a firm believer that if you didn't grow up on motorcycles you have no business riding them as an adult.

18 posted on 07/15/2007 7:58:42 AM PDT by Lizavetta ( If a liberal speaks, and no one hears it, is it still stupid?)
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To: Eagle Eye

You’re right, the stats are only abour helmet use or alcohol and don’t address collision fatalities.

Which is why I’ll keep my nice Chrysler minivan “cage.”


19 posted on 07/15/2007 7:58:48 AM PDT by elcid1970
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To: BraveMan

Riding motorcycles are just inherently dangerous. You have no cage around you, no restraints or airbags(yet), most have acceleration rates unfamiliar to most car drivers, limited braking ability, and require far more input into maneuvering than cars. All you can really do, is increase your odds. Like, wear a helmet, ride as if every vehicle on the road is out to get you, don’t ride a bike with performance beyond your experience, and don’t ride like a moron, who thinks the road is a race track. That is, if you are interested in increasing your odds.


20 posted on 07/15/2007 8:00:07 AM PDT by mutley
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To: ichabod1

There have been 5 riders killed locally that were all at least friends of friends.

Only one was hot dogging but it was still a left turning cager who killed her.

I ride about 2000 miles a month, half of that commuting. I have to stay vigilant because cagers attitudes vary from apathetic to hostile.

But we all make our choices and have to realize we assume some risks.

But I refuse to blame the victim.


21 posted on 07/15/2007 8:01:32 AM PDT by Eagle Eye (...and one mediator between man and God, the man Christ Jesus. Not Peter, Paul, or Mary.)
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To: BraveMan

I agree that car drivers are a big part of the problem.

The “blue-haired old lady in a Buick” is not just a silly stereotype, but a deadly menace on the road. There are others, of course (cell phone users come to mind).


22 posted on 07/15/2007 8:01:42 AM PDT by Disambiguator
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To: JoeSixPack1
2X2 Bump (2 Wheels 2 drinks)

Sage advice, my FRiend. Many riders (if not most) don't realize just how much even slight alcohol impairment negatively affects your ability to maintain control of a motorcycle.
23 posted on 07/15/2007 8:02:53 AM PDT by BraveMan
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To: Dutch Boy
I’m not sure if this is a nation wide trend but where I live there are a large number of people 40 or older that are new bike riders.

BINGO! I ride extremely fast sport bikes and always break with one finger. I do that puposely to avoid a full squeeze when surprised and having the front wheel go out. Now of course you can't use this technique on a Harley, where one finger will do nothing...

24 posted on 07/15/2007 8:03:30 AM PDT by AmericaUnited
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To: JoeSixPack1
2X2 Bump (2 Wheels 2 drinks)

So do 18 wheelers have to pack a keg? :)

25 posted on 07/15/2007 8:05:39 AM PDT by AmericaUnited
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To: elcid1970

One of the recent local bike fatalities was a guy in a pickup who turned left in front of the cyclist.

The reports indicated that the helmet made no difference.

Many times we read that the biker wasn’t wearing a helmet but many times it wouldn’t have made a difference anyway. But the stats don’t usually account for that. It just goes down as another biker died because he wasn’t wearing a helmet.

Not another biker killed because of a careless driver.


26 posted on 07/15/2007 8:06:48 AM PDT by Eagle Eye (...and one mediator between man and God, the man Christ Jesus. Not Peter, Paul, or Mary.)
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To: Eagle Eye
I have to stay vigilant because cagers attitudes vary from apathetic to hostile.

I ALWAYS assume they will do something stupid and am thinking defensively to the max.

27 posted on 07/15/2007 8:07:08 AM PDT by AmericaUnited
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To: Disambiguator
The “blue-haired old lady in a Buick” is not just a silly stereotype, but a deadly menace on the road.

A coworker was hit by one of those. He was at a stop light. She was turning left and clipped his front tire. He was out of work for months. She reportedly said, "I didn't see him".

Cellphone yackers are a hazard to everyone.

28 posted on 07/15/2007 8:07:14 AM PDT by csvset
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To: BraveMan

Damned if I don’t turn into Evel Knevel when I drink and ride! Lane splitting at midnight...yikes!

That’s why I don’t do it anymore.

Or do it much :>

2x2 works for me.


29 posted on 07/15/2007 8:10:05 AM PDT by Eagle Eye (Size matters. Unless you got more than me.)
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To: AmericaUnited

No keg, ‘cause they might have to pee in a bottle at the next weigh station, lose their job and/or get locked up!

Commercial driving is a whole other ballgame.


30 posted on 07/15/2007 8:10:24 AM PDT by JoeSixPack1 (Think not of today.)
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To: AmericaUnited

Depends on which finger.


31 posted on 07/15/2007 8:11:20 AM PDT by Eagle Eye (Size matters. Unless you got more than me.)
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To: BraveMan

There’s always the Indian Larry Rider Safety Course Graduates to watch out for also. :-)


32 posted on 07/15/2007 8:13:12 AM PDT by JoeSixPack1 (Think not of today.)
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To: Lizavetta
Perhaps I'm in the minority but I'm a firm believer that if you didn't grow up on motorcycles you have no business riding them as an adult.

I might paraphrase that somewhat but am with you in spirit/intent. Proud to say I grew up with them and have, like many in my age bunch, been riding accident-free for over 50 years. The secret is assuming you're invisible to all, keeping your bike well-maintained and never outdrive your headlights, eyesight or skill. Also, don't drink and drive.

33 posted on 07/15/2007 8:15:11 AM PDT by pt17
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To: BraveMan

Idaho is a good place to be if you need a kidney transplant. You see, there is no helmet law here and there are lots of people riding donorcycles without one. Only have to wait a year for a nice, fresh kidney since its former owner wrecked his bike.

I work in emergency medicine. If everyone rode donorcycles it would be a fair fight on the roads. Not everyone does, however, and I refuse to get into a road fight with something larger, helmet or not. Even riders who wear helmets suffer some of the most gruesome injuries imaginable.

The human body will suffer injury when it impacts anything at greater than 3mph. Greater velocity = greater injury. Think about that.


34 posted on 07/15/2007 8:16:59 AM PDT by 43north (I hope we are around long enough to become a layer in the rocks of the future.)
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To: csvset

I work on a military base that requires ‘light or bright colors and/or reflective material’ to ride on base.

I like to commute in a bright yellow long sleeve shirt and during the dark winter months I wear an ANSI approved reflective vest.

There’s reflective tape on my helmet and I’m toying with the idea of mast mounted strobes for the pre-dawn and post sunset commutes.

No, I haven’t considered NOT riding...LOL.


35 posted on 07/15/2007 8:19:41 AM PDT by Eagle Eye (Size matters. Unless you got more than me.)
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To: JoeSixPack1
Ohhhh, that's cold . . .


36 posted on 07/15/2007 8:21:44 AM PDT by BraveMan
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To: BraveMan
Ohhhh, that's cold . .
Yep, and so is Indian Larry

Rest In Peace Indian Larry

37 posted on 07/15/2007 8:25:51 AM PDT by JoeSixPack1 (Think not of today.)
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To: Larry Lucido

NO ONE ever intends to crash or get hurt thus the term “accident” of course but IMHO inexperience is key.......know what can and will happen if you push the press to test button on ANYTHING including an old strata blue 1998 Harley Fat Boy !

Never rely on others to follow the rules of the road, posted stop /yield signs etc ......... and look at everything as the potential hazard it is.

I wear leathers, gloves, helmet etc when I get time to ride but that is my choice. I experienced road rash at an early age and learned what it is and in my older age I am a safety poster boy due the simple fact I don’t heal up as fast as I used too !

I peeked at Exiles (Russell’s) new Trike the other day 60K with paint and 45k without paint. Think I’m gonna save 15k and get 20$ worth of Krylon Black and finish my life riding on 3 wheels just like I did as a two year old on my old tricycle......:o)


38 posted on 07/15/2007 8:25:54 AM PDT by Squantos (Be polite. Be professional. But, have a plan to kill everyone you meet. )
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To: BraveMan

I always get a kick out of mototcycle cops handing out no-seatbelt tickets.


39 posted on 07/15/2007 8:27:59 AM PDT by umgud ("When illegals are banned, only greedy businesses and welfare providers will have them)
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To: BraveMan
My last bike was a 72 850 Norton. Miss the fun and the wind. I used to take my 8 year old boy for a ride, sitting on the tank.
Never crashed. Sold the bike in 87. An Australian guy bought it in the Twin cities and took it Down Under...
40 posted on 07/15/2007 8:28:53 AM PDT by Eric in the Ozarks (BTUs are my Beat.)
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To: 43north

If you do indeed work in emergency medicine, how is it you don’t know (or are unwilling to admit) that people who die from traumatic head injuries are rarely, if ever, organ donors?

Furthermore, would you be willing to admit you see far more traumatic head injuries resulting from auto accidents than motorcycle accidents?


41 posted on 07/15/2007 8:29:57 AM PDT by BraveMan
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To: BraveMan

There’s a reason motorcycles are called, “donorcycles”.


42 posted on 07/15/2007 8:35:09 AM PDT by mtbopfuyn (I think the border is kind of an artificial barrier - San Antonio councilwoman Patti Radle)
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To: Eagle Eye
What this article doesn’t tell us is how many bikers were killed by careless cagers.

In all reality, it might not be the biker’s fault but that of the car drives.

We stopped riding for the simple reason that the roads are getting more hostile and stupider.

Someone pulled out in front of my wife. She ONLY had three lights on the front of the bike. Her helmet was smashed when she went over the car and her leg was messed up but she recovered. A few weeks later, a Senile Citizen made a turn across the road in front of me. We had ridden since the late 1960's, but took these events as a "clue". Time to take our luck and cash out.

Another local syndrome is, "Mooooo! Gotta get the Kids to Soccer! What is YOUR life compared to THAT?...I'm BUSY!"

43 posted on 07/15/2007 8:35:15 AM PDT by Gorzaloon
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To: pt17
secret is assuming you're invisible to all, keeping your bike well-maintained and never outdrive your headlights, eyesight or skill. Also, don't drink and drive.

Yet another is turn off that GPS unit unless you are seriously in need of directions and then don't be looking at it while your moving.

44 posted on 07/15/2007 8:36:32 AM PDT by pt17
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To: mtbopfuyn
There’s a reason motorcycles are called, “donorcycles”.

Reason #1 = MORONS and ignorant fools need a catch phrase.

45 posted on 07/15/2007 8:38:54 AM PDT by JoeSixPack1 (Think not of today.)
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To: mtbopfuyn

Yes, and its the same reason African-Americans are referred to by some as “Niggers”. To some people, epithets are fun.


46 posted on 07/15/2007 8:41:26 AM PDT by BraveMan
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To: BraveMan
Aside from the trends and the growing number of bikes on the road, it's difficult to explain the rising death toll. However, that could change in the coming years.

Helmet helmet helmet....

No mention of cagers with cell phones, DVD players, cooing at their navigation computers, yadda yadda yadda.

One thing hasn't changed, though.

"But, officer, I didn't see him!"

47 posted on 07/15/2007 8:43:03 AM PDT by Smokin' Joe (How often God must weep at humans' folly.)
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To: BraveMan

I rode a motorcycle for over 20 years before having an accident. I was wearing full leathers, a full face helmet. While it did leave me a paraplegic, it did not leave me a traumatic brain injured paraplegic. So anytime I see or hear some anti-helmet idiot I feel like giving them the news. Don’t wear a helmet and you will certainly be more ****ed-up in your accident.


48 posted on 07/15/2007 8:47:50 AM PDT by Bogtrotter52 (Reading DU daily so you won't hafta)
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To: Squantos
Same here, I ride with boots, gloves and helmet everytime I get on the bike. I have a 94' Nostalgia and love riding it. For seven years in college in Knoxville, Tenn, I rode a Yamaha 400cc because it was cheap and the Knoxville drivers and weather tried to kill me daily. I learned that everything could be a hazard and to look ahead for potential dangers and moves by the cagers.

IMO the cell phone users are the most dangerous to bikers...I have had several close calls with those using cell phones and they were oblivious to my presence.

49 posted on 07/15/2007 8:48:11 AM PDT by vetvetdoug
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To: csvset

“Actually, I don’t ride and do think that it should be up to the rider.”

I do ride, and I think riding without a helmet is stupid. Nonetheless, I agree - leave it up to the rider to choose.


50 posted on 07/15/2007 8:51:11 AM PDT by -YYZ- (Strong like bull, smart like ox.)
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