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By LESLIE MILLER, Associated Press Writer
Wed Sep 13, 7:03 AM ET

WASHINGTON - Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's near-fatal crash on a motorcycle this year reflected a troubling trend: More bikers are getting killed on the road.

Roethlisberger's June 12 accident was one of three within two days that the National Transportation Safety Board looked into. The accidents, which killed seven people, were the first the safety board ever investigated.

"This trend is very troubling," said NTSB member Debbie Hersman, who chaired a two-day forum on motorcycle safety that began Tuesday. "The number of fatalities is outpacing the increase in ridership."

Late-blooming motorheads are part of the problem. The average rider is older now, and the average age of riders killed is also on the rise.

In the last 10 years, there has been a 230 percent increase in fatalities among motorcycle riders who've reached their 40th birthday, according to Umesh Shankar of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Fatalities are also on the rise for seniors on hogs, according to Shankar.

As riders get older, motorcycles get bigger. The number of 50-plus riders killed in a crash involving a bike with a 1,001-1,500 cc engine rose 540 percent in the past decade, Shankar said.

Alcohol continues to kill motorcycle riders. Of those who died in a solo crash in 2004, 41 percent had a blood alcohol concentration above the legal limit of .08, Hersman said.

Ted Miller, a safety economist with the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, blames the rise in motorcycle deaths on plummeting helmet use.

At one time almost every state required all motorcycle riders to wear helmets, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Now, only 20 states and the District of Columbia require riders to wear protective helmets, according to the institute, which is funded by the insurance industry.

Pennsylvania repealed its mandatory law in 2003, which is why Roethlisberger, 24, wasn't wearing a helmet when he crashed on Second Avenue in Pittsburgh.

James "Doc" Reichenbach, a bearded and tattooed biker who lives in Silver Springs, Fla., said better statistics are needed to show whether or not helmets protect riders.

He said helmet laws infringe on his rights. "I did three tours in Vietnam," he said. "I have a right to decide for myself whether I wear one or not."

Motorcyclists are often the victims of drivers who don't see them. Roethlisberger came close to death in such an accident. He rammed into a 1996 Chrysler New Yorker that failed to yield when making a left turn.

Research is needed into ways to improve the visibility of motorcyclists, as well as the effectiveness of protective gear, the NTSB was told.
 

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Actually...

the DOT, thru the NTSB commissioned a study a year and a half ago, then doubled the funding to essentially re-do the "Hurt Study" on a much larger scale. A southern research institution (Not 100% positive but it may be U of Georgia) landed the grant, which will take about 4 years for data collection, another for preliminary analysis and exerpted release of findings, and sometime near 2009 or so a massive report that should do Dr. Hurt proud, to include types of crashes, whether size of motorcycle makes a difference (let's hope not, it'll have a big affect on insurance rates!), the frequency of accidents, damage and fatalities by age category--particularly changed the last 8-10 years by those who have hopped on the midlife crisis "buy me a harley but don't get proper training" bandwagon, etc.

This is a BIG BIG deal, MSF, the AMA, all major manufacturers, DOT and private corporations have been seeking a legitimate research entity to do this for over a quarter of a century, it's gonna' have an impact on everything from insurance rates to helmet and safety design, to roadway design, to (hopefully) heavily increased penalties for people who violate traffic laws and put cyclists at risk. If all goes really well, it might even lead to legalization of lane splitting...

(I was fortunate to be part of the initial development of the research program design...and am looking very forward to what comes of it)


Pete
 

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We don't need to wait until 2009.

1. Bikes are very maneuverable, but inherently unstable, so take a professional training course and practice what you learn every time you ride.

2. Bikes offer less crash protection than cars, so wear good safety gear all the time.

3. Alcohol impairs judgement and reflexes, so never drink and ride (or drive, for that matter).

4. Motorists don't perceive bikes as a threat, so always assume they don't see you, or just don't care.

5. And never assume you're invincible, whether you're 20 and clueless or well over 40 and just too cool for words. You aren't, and they will still aim right for you so you better be aware, and prepared for the worst.

Can I have my grant money now?
 

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There you go Ken, I gave you what it's worth.
 

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Is this a potential benefit?

If all goes really well, it might even lead to legalization of lane splitting...

(I was fortunate to be part of the initial development of the research program design...and am looking very forward to what comes of it)


Pete[/QUOTE]
Can you explain why this is a potential benefit?
As I understand it would essentially allow bikes to ride between 2 cars in the spaec between the 2 lanes.
It seems inherently a dangerous position to be in on the road. Maybe I'm wrong or am just not uderstanding it correctly.

JS
 

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Thanks, Meese. But it's worth much more than that to me, every time I ride. :) At least I think you're Meese, based on those pics. :D
 

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meese said:
Thanks, Meese. But it's worth much more than that to me, every time I ride. :) At least I think you're Meese, based on those pics. :D
No problem, least I could do for my own opinion. :p
 

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starky said:
Can you explain why this is a potential benefit?
As I understand it would essentially allow bikes to ride between 2 cars in the spaec between the 2 lanes.
It seems inherently a dangerous position to be in on the road. Maybe I'm wrong or am just not uderstanding it correctly.

JS
It is not inherently dangerous when the cars know it is legal, and are used to it.

In CA there are very few accidents that can in any way be attributed to lane splitting, even though it is an extremely common practice.

If you try to evaluate lane splitting in a state that does not allow it, you will certainly come to the conclusion that it is very dangerous, and rightly so. If you live in CA, and have been lane splitting for years, your outlook changes dramatically. It is a quite safe thing to do here, WHEN done by the unwritten rules: Never more than 15 MPH faster than the slowest lane you are passing, never more than 35-40 MPH bike speed, and only in heavily congested, slow moving traffic. One has to watch for open spots where a car may dive over, and I learned long ago to not lane split where there is an incoming lane, or where the number of lanes change. That is where cars are most likely to "lane dive". I lane split every work day for nearly 5 years, not one incident other than a mirror getting knocked off.
 

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petervandyke said:
If all goes really well, it might even lead to legalization of lane splitting...

(I was fortunate to be part of the initial development of the research program design...and am looking very forward to what comes of it)


Pete
starky said:
Can you explain why this is a potential benefit?
As I understand it would essentially allow bikes to ride between 2 cars in the spaec between the 2 lanes.
It seems inherently a dangerous position to be in on the road. Maybe I'm wrong or am just not uderstanding it correctly.

JS
Howdy Joel,

Short answer on "lane splitting" is that it is like any other activity on a motorcycle in that it is an exercise in judgement.

The longer answer is that we, the majority of motorcycle riders in California including CHP m/c officers, understand that, under certain conditions, there are substantial benefits to "lane splitting" when done in a responsible manner:

- if I am between the rear bumper of the car in front and front bumper of car behind, then I am the "filling" that can get squished.
- no vehicle rapidly moves sideways when it is moving slowly or stopped. If I am between two stopped vehicles, then they cannot hit me.
- a bike that is moving at moderate and constant pace, say 10-15 mph between cars is a lot easier than "stop and go" on a m/c. If you don't "lane split", every time you come to a stop in traffic, you're exposed to the guy behind running into you.

We go round and round on this topic, but suffice it to say that unless someone has been out here and learned how to do it....properly.... it is difficult to understand why those of us that do it are passionate about it. Seems a lot being a motorcyclist ;)


.


 

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I get the impression that you are picturing splitting lanes at freeway speed. While some squids do that, it is normally used to "filter" between stopped or slow moving traffic. In fact that is what they call it in England. This is a widespread practice around the world.

When your temp gauge goes to the top and the electric fans turn on you will see what a great thing splitting is. And there is no reason for yet another vehicle to be adding to the backup of stopped vehicles.
 

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I feel so smart...

I love it when i answer a question without even typing!


No one even mentioned the benefit of actually MOVING when the cages are stuck bumper to bumper thanks to rush hour traffic, accidents, construction, etc--hey, we worked hard to acquire a unique skill, in my eyes that makes us SPECIAL, so gosh durn it, we should get special priviledges! (did I sound like a grumpy old man, I've been practicing!)

My daily commute in Chicago was, no exaggeration, 42 miles each way and averaged a horrific hour and 45 minutes each direction...except Fridays when it increased by about 25 minutes. Many a time I was tempted to ride the shoulder, except for the fact that Illinois state tax dollars don't include cleaning the roadsides, and it would be akin to taking an air compressor nail gun to your tires if you rode on the shoulder there...

Secondary benefit not discussed, car motorists "trained" to recognize legal lane-splitting motorcycles have been shown to be more aware of motorcycles in non-highway settings as well.

And typing this ten minutes after almost becoming a hood ornament again, thanks to a soccer mom who was doing her eye makeup (remind me to put fresh offerings up to my BMW EVO antilock brake alter tonight), anything that makes us more visible is a good thing to me.

Soooooo, why do we need a gub'mint study to tell us what a previous poster so elloquently stated we should already know? Because it's also going to quantify in hard numbers whether changes need to be made to traffic legislation, whether motorcyclists who choose bikes over a certain displacement (i.e. the k1200LT) should NOT be automatically punished by insurance companies with archaic formulae who think that a 1,000cc "superbike" is automatically more deadly than today's 145hp 600cc race replicas and apply that thinking universally, and here's the big one.....

......it may very well lead to the feds finally "getting it" and realizing that trained riders are far less likely to "cost" the public, and may finally fund a dramatic, perhaps exponential expansion of MSF-type motorcycle training, recognizing that investing a few dollars a year in riders to keep skill levels sharp is far cheaper than the billions it costs the american taxpayer thru social security and medicare to provide lifelong medical care to those paralyzed in accidents because they didn't have access and weren't required to truly demonstrate skill before being given the priviledge of a motorcycle license.

OK, who wants the soap box next, I'm done.

My two pesos...from Corpus Christi, where it's sunny and gorgeous 51 1/2 weeks a year except for when I am here apparently...

Pete
 

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Getting the picture

FridayBob said:
I get the impression that you are picturing splitting lanes at freeway speed. While some squids do that, it is normally used to "filter" between stopped or slow moving traffic. In fact that is what they call it in England. This is a widespread practice around the world.

When your temp gauge goes to the top and the electric fans turn on you will see what a great thing splitting is. And there is no reason for yet another vehicle to be adding to the backup of stopped vehicles.
Sure, in general I was envisioning high speed LANE SPLITTING as in the Ghost Rider romp around Amsterdam film that I saw at STCII in April, 280 - 300 KMH. Obviously it doesn't have to be that fast , but that's what I thought the idea was.
That being said, if it is so bebficial, why are we in North America not allowing more of it? Especially seeing as it is so common in other parts of the world, specifically in Europe?
Keeping traffic moving, keeping the bike motor cooler, reducing smog, etc, etc. and I follow the argument that lateral movement at slower speeds is not going to take place in the blink of an eye; so , what then is the status of lane splitting in general around the US.
Definately in Canada it is verbotten. When in a NY thruway traffic jam earlier this summer I scooted up the shoulder for a few miles to get past the problem. I would have preferred going in between the lanes, as it probably would have been safer.
However, it probably would have ticked off motorists just as much.
 

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More media bias is showing in that article:

1. His accident is now "nearly fatal"? I knew he had some serious injuries but don't recall it being a near-death experience. This is the type of inflammatory language that so many news media outlets use when it isn't necessary. A great example is Good Morning America (on ABC, 7:00 a.m. ET); Diane Sawyer is practically beside herself when she outlines the lead stories they'll discuss. Check it out.

2. "Late-blooming motorheads are part of the problem." OK, but what are the OTHER parts of the problem? Idiots on cell phones who don't pay attention? (should also include putting on makeup, smacking kids in the back seat, shaving, eating, READING a book, newspaper, or magazine) We've all seen these things, and more. I'm a late-blooming motorcyclist and I think because I'm older I'm making better decisions than a teenager on a bike.

3. "Research is needed into ways to improve the visibility of motorcyclists, as well as the effectiveness of protective gear, the NTSB was told." How about ways to improve driver training so they DO recognize us on our bikes, and act accordingly?
 

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meese said:
4. Motorists don't perceive bikes as a threat, so always assume they don't see you, or just don't care.
I guy I work with had an idea and it would probably work very well, but a few of us are going to have to "take one for the team".

If we install shaped charges on the front of every motorcycle automobile drivers will start paying attention after the word spreads about all the cars that were blown up by all those motorcycles. Instead of being harmless motorized bikes we would become CRUISE MISSLES ON WHEELS!!! :D :D

Kevin
 

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petevandyke said:
I love it when i answer a question without even typing!

......Pete
Sorry Pete..... I get so "worked up" on this topic I just couldn't wait to chime in :eek:


.
 

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Sorry?

Hell, Billy, you're not only SMARTER than I am, you am write much mo' better too!


Feel free to jump right in anytime, my friend!




FWIW, Cycle World magazine caught a LOAD of sh** a few months ago when they reported that "...Texas is the first state in the nation to pass legislation LEGALIZING lane splitting..." (it's not legal in California, it's just not ILLEGAL...don't ask me, I ain't a lawyer, I just play one on tv.)

Well, I got all excited as I was preparing to move to Dallas, figuring I'd wait about a year after passing of the new law before I did it because Texas citizenship requirements include ownership and concealed carry of at least one handgun, and anything that is registered with the DMV as a "truck" must be equipped with at least one rifle of .30-.30 calibre or greater and/or one shotgun and I didn't want to be the first lane splitter Bubba saw.

And then Cycle World had to choke down an apology to readers when it reported that the bill got killed before it got to committee because it didn't get lobbied properly, but might be re-introduced fall session.

Now, all I need to do is reverse-mount my jpegs, sharpen the tips to razor edges, and wait...the next soccer mom that cuts me off gets a custom pinstriping when I lanesplit with one of the widest vehicles on two wheels since Roseanne Barr gave up her schwinn...


Cheers


Pete
 

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starky said:
That being said, if it is so beneficial, why are we in North America not allowing more of it?
Something being beneficial, or even just making sense, doesn't always matter unless the general public can see how it directly benefits them personally. In many states, not only can the other motorists not see the benefits, but many of them feel as if they personally are being stepped on so that a bike can go by a little faster. If they can't filter in their cars, why should "those bikes" be able to?

It's an inane reaction, but all too common just the same.
 

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Pennsylvania repealed its mandatory law in 2003, which is why Roethlisberger, 24, wasn't wearing a helmet when he crashed on Second Avenue in Pittsburgh.

Mandatory or not You Have A CHOICE to wear a helmet. If You are unsure of the benefit go out to the garage and run as fast as you can and smack your head against the concrete wall with no helmet on. I mean really because the GOVERNMENT did not tell you to wear a helmet one could not see they have a choice??????????
 

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One thing I Guess and it is only a guess, is that where lane splitting could be allowed there is a certain part of the population that would "squeeze" Someone they see splitting the lane.
You California riders can confirm or deny on that one. I can see it in Texas as there are people that drive on the premise that " if I have to be slow, you can too".

Respect of the roadway is at a low with those out there that are DWD driving while distracted.

Helmets and safety gear , including safety courses are there for a thinking person.
Just wish more would use it..

And the loose nut behind the bars/steering wheel...

It's good seeing everyone!
 
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