About Motorcycles

Update: You should get 3 things out of this post:

  1. Cars are dangerous.
  2. Motorcycles are 35 times more dangerous than cars per mile driven.
  3. There is no riding “safely”. 2/3 of motorcycle deaths are not the motorcyclist’s fault.

So maybe drive a motorcycle as a pleasure-craft or occasional-transportation, but don’t make it your daily vehicle. I love you too much to see you dead like that!


I’ve been thinking about getting rid of my car. I’m going to school so I need to save a bit more; I don’t need my garage for storage any more; so far school has been all accessible by public transit. So I’ve been considering my options.

A friend old me how she loves her motorcycle. She said how it was like a shortcut: you can always find a place to park, they are inexpensive, even insurance is cheap, just $100 per year for her, and they are completely awesome.

I wrote this to her:

I thought about what you said about your motorcycle and how you love it. So I thought I’d give the idea of getting a motorcycle a chance.

And then I read this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motorcycle_safety

What got me was in the first paragraph. Mile for mile, a motorcycle is 35 times more fatal than a car. Now I know that cars are very dangerous, some 40,000 Americans are killed every year. Or as I like to say to people, “Hey, did you hear about the big car crash last week where almost a thousand people were killed? Yeah, it really happened! Well, not all at once, but yeah, almost a thousand Americans were killed in car accidents last week. Yes. Really”

It feels like an acceptable risk to be in a car, I mean, you’ve got to get around somehow. But if everyone rode motorcycles instead of cars (yeah, I know, that’s not realistic), then bikes would kill 1.4 million Americans every year! That’s insane! That’s more deaths than the top 3 killers in America: heart disease, cancer, and stroke COMBINED, almost doubling the number of people that die every year.

And what really bugged me is the Wikipedia article talks about studies that say some 2/3 of fatal crashes are where the car smashed into the bike without even veering; neither the rider or driver saw it coming and the rider had no chance to save themselves. Hurumph.

Sorry, but that’s not for me. I want to go the whole 9 yards, but nope.

Rock on,


  1. petal says:

    One small quibble on the logic… if everyone rode motorcycles instead of cars, there would not be 1.4 million deaths, because cars cause the vast majority of bike deaths. You’d be more accurate looking at current stats on bike-bike crashes and extrapolating up somehow from there (because the more bikes on the road the more bike-bike crashes you’ll have).

    That said, I totally agree with you. Since I had a kid, very few things are worth an increased risk of dying to me.

  2. lee says:

    Yes Petal that’s a good point. I was just trying to drive home what “35 times more fatal than a car” actually means. It’s easy for a person to get lost in decimal places.

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