An Open Letter To Every Person I Meet Who Finds Out I Ride a Motorcycle




Let me stop you right there, mmmm-kay? I can tell by that little intake of breath what’s coming next. Thank you in advance, but I already know that motorcycles are “dangerous.” After nearly twenty years of riding on the streets, I am aware; telling me now will not be a revelation. It is not an insight into my lifestyle that has remained hidden from me until this, the moment of epiphany when you shine the light of outsider wisdom on my foolhardy choices. This is an open letter to everyone who finds out I ride a motorcycle.

Photo: Grant Ray

There are ways I can minimize the risk — by riding defensively, riding sober, knowing my own and my machine’s capabilities, etc. — but I also know there are some risks that are simply beyond my control. But you know what? There a lots of risks that are within my control. We’ve become so pathologically risk-averse that for most people it is inconceivable to assume any additional risk no matter how much joy you might get back in return.

You want to know what’s truly dangerous? Not taking any risks. Hanging out with like-minded middle-of-the-roaders. Absorbing the same brain-ossifying stuff from media factories every day. Jogging. Putting helmets, flotation devices, and auto-deploy epi-pens on your kids every time they leave the house. Passivity. Not paying attention to where your car, or your life, or you country is going.

If you don’t get that, that’s OK. I’m not trying to convert anybody, but here are a few tips to save us both a little aggravation:

You don’t need to tell me the horror story about your uncle’s buddy who wiped out his chopper while drag racing at some hooligan rally. That just makes me wish I were talking to your uncle’s buddy instead of you. He sounds pretty cool.

Do not — do NOT — tell me about the time you almost Sausage Creatured a biker because you “couldn’t see him” or he “came out of nowhere.” I have never known a bike to come out of nowhere, but I have seen plenty of cars pull a Crazy Ivan and turn into a lane occupied by a biker or make an impromptu un-signaled left turn in front of an oncoming me. If you’re expecting me to share your outrage at the temerity of bikers to be in the lane you want, you’re more deluded than a goldfish with a passport. I can’t make you see bikes. I can’t make you hang up your phone. They won’t let me mount a .50-caliber machine gun to my bike. So really, there’s not much I can do to change the outcome of your anecdote, so save it for your coreligionists who also have stick-figure families and giant softball stickers with the name “Tailyr” or “Flynn” or “Shyly” on their rear windows.

I do wear a helmet, as a matter of fact, along with other protective gear. But, the fact that you “certainly hope” I wear a helmet is so condescending it makes me want to ride a tricycle completely naked doing doughnuts in your front yard screaming Beastie Boys lyrics at midnight. Trust me, you do not want that. My buttocks are extremely pale and unsightly, especially in the moonlight.

Please, do not complain about bikes parking in car parking spaces. Where are we supposed to park? If they let us park up on the curb like in Europe, we would totally do that, and precious few parking lots have motorcycle parking areas. Most cops already have a hard-on for bikes, so parking anywhere but in a designated spot is asking to be impounded.

Yes, I know, some bikes have very loud exhaust. Maybe it’s obnoxious, but at least you knew they were there, didn’t you? They say loud pipes save lives. I don’t know if that’s true, because there hasn’t been a serious comprehensive study of motorcycle safety since 1981, the poetically named Hurt Report. And yes, I know, at one point you probably saw some kid riding his 600cc sport bike at 100mph doing a wheelie down the freeway. He’s a squid, and he’ll either grow up or just take care of himself. Some bikers do crazy things. Anti-social things. Unsanctioned things. I don’t represent him and he doesn’t represent me — that’s the great part of being a biker.  I could be a Lowbrow Weirdo or Antoine Predock or Lyle Lovett or just whatever I want to be.

If you’re really so all-fire concerned about my safety, don’t preach at me. Just do me this one favor:  pay attention when you’re driving. Keep your greasy fingers off your touch-screen, put down your phone, use your turn signals and lay off the booze before you get on the road with me. You take care of your part and I’ll take care of mine.

But hang-gliding, man, that is crazy.

Carter Edman is an architect, writer, and rider in Cleveland, Ohio. He teaches “Motorcycles and American Culture” and other courses at Case Western Reserve University.

  • Ben Rendel


  • NitroPye

    Great article. So sick of the “my uncle’s friend died” stories.

    • slowtire

      Just tell them you have an uncle who has a friend that was born on a motorcycle. Their expression is priceless.

  • perizoqui

    Fantastic. I’ve always listened politely to the horror stories from non-bikers. Never had the heart to do anything else. But inside, I guess we’re all thinking the same thing :)

    • jp182

      Oh I usually stop them part way and say I’ve had my close calls but I’d rather live a short happy life then a dull unhappy one….with a smile :-)

  • Zirq

    Great letter!

  • Goldhammer


    Wes/Grant – any way to make this one free for all to see so we can share to the world?

    • Wes Siler

      If you share it now, it will be open for 12 hours. If you’re sharing on the internet, that’s a lifetime.

  • Jeremy Chittenden

    Thanks for making miss European forward thinking when it comes to traffic laws and parking

  • Aienan

    I just try to convince them to come ride with me. My success rate is, admittedly, low.

  • Devin Stone

    Please keep this article public. I need to circulate it to friends and family.

    • ~RUSH~


    • NitroPye

      +1. I want non-riders to see it.

      • jp182

        Wes negativo’d that but as he also said, “sharing on the internet, that’s a lifetime.”

    • valen

      +1. Would be really worthwhile. Purpose is to be shared and not just for 12 hours. Public articles here and there probably help attract subscribers anyways.

    • Supermoto Alex

      seriously, plus one on this. every time someone tells me it’s “soooo dangerous” and i must “have a deathwish” i want to teabag their grandmother violently in response.

      • HammSammich

        Perfect! I’ve had that same urge, but never new exactly how to phrase it…Watch out Granny!

      • Ryan

        That reminds me about something Travis Pastrana said in an interview about being asked about having a deathwish.

        “There are quicker ways…” — Paraphrased from Travis Pastrana

  • ike6116


  • jonoabq

    most excellent!

  • Campisi

    I need to print a few copies of this out and fold them up into business-card-sized portions.

  • David Howland

    Great read.

    I love the “my uncle’s buddy” breakdown. I can’t believe how much of that I’ve heard.

    It reminds me of the narrator intro to the film “Faster”.

    “… Some men die, but most of them live; REALLY live”

    • JVictor75

      Dark Helmet: “Before you die there is something you should know about us, Lonestar.”
      Lonestar: “What?”
      Dark Helmet: “I am your father’s, brother’s, nephew’s, cousin’s former roommate.”
      Lonestar: “What’s that make us?”
      Dark Helmet: “Absolutely nothing! Which is what you are about to become!”

  • Ceolwulf

    And here I was just about to take up hang-gliding.

    • AHA

      Microlight aircraft is the way to go. Soo much more dangerous. Only two types of microlight pilots – those that have crashed recently & those just about to.

      • Ben

        Hahahaha so true. The next project for me is probably a mosquito microlight helicopter…

        • Skratz

          I’ve been flying Microlights for almost as long as I’ve been riding…20+ years for both, and I can state unequivocally that motorcycling is far far more dangerous.

  • NewOldSchool


  • Coreyvwc

    Thank you. This is perfect.

  • rohorn

    Any time I get the finger wagging tirade about some relative’s motorcycle mishap, I ask them if they know anyone who’s been hurt/killed in a car, and if so, why they still drive one.

    The look of shock (due to sudden mental paralysis) is priceless.

    Then I mention that, even though virtually all of my family and relatives ride/rode motorcycles, all of the injuries and fatalities have been in cars.

    • Gene

      Hahaha! I’ve done that too.

      “Your uncle’s buddy’s first cousin died on a bike? Wow, that’s terrible! My dad and 2 of my sisters died in a car wreck!”

    • Gene

      Or if I’m feeling in a real bad mood: “My dad and 2 of my sisters died in a car wreck, what’s your %*@^)ing POINT? [awkward pause] …and THANKS for bringing it up!”

    • the_doctor

      Totally right way to handle those folks.

  • Your_Mom

    My uncle died in his sleep. Now I’m terrified to go to bed.

    • JVictor75

      You’ve heard the joke about Grandpa dying, right?

      “When I die I wanna go like my Grandpa, in his sleep.”

      “… Not like the passengers in the car he was driving.”

      • Core

        *chuckles* scary.

      • nick


  • JVictor75

    I just totally ripped this off and posted it as a status update on I did, however, attribute it correctly (I hope).

    Just had a not-quite-shouting match with a coworker over this very subject this afternoon, as a matter of fact.

  • Jhon Alexander

    This is great!..why don’t I just just print this and hand it out whenever someone steers the conversation down that path…might save me a few angry retorts!…

  • Joe

    Please, please, please keep this open.

  • Robbo B

    Love it! As soon as anyone starts their tirade, I will now say “Let me stop you right there, mmmm-kay?”

    • jason

      Last time I was out: looked right, girl at 70 mph TEXTing. My bike has the loudest car horn I could find(“the blaster”), one beep, and man, she saw a ghost. Sadly, I see that all the time. Bikes do not allow foolish lack of concentration

      • Gene

        Did you see where the guy was found guilty of of vehicular homicide, texting while driving and negligent operation of a motor vehicle, and the useless judge basically only gave him a year in prison?

        *That’s* why nobody gives a shit about their driving.

        • damien

          he also got 15 years with no license. The sentence is lax, but there you go…our justice system.

  • Jerry Guy

    So very awesome, soon to appear on Jalopnik?

    • craymor

      that would be good!

  • adam Hoff

    Great letter! I’ll forward it on to my entire family who would really rather I just go golfing with them.

    • HammSammich

      Ugh…I told my father-in-law, I’ll start golfing with him, when they replace the carts with dirtbikes, and the clubs with some sort of pnuematic golf-ball launcher. Now that’s a game I could enjoy.

      • Ryan

        And add landmines. Not big ones, just small ones, and maybe just in the rough… Maybe.

        • pplassm

          Combat golf! Awesome.

          • HammSammich

            Land Mines, concertina wire, sharks in the water hazards, and actual bunkers…we’re on to something here….

    • Gregory

      A golf course is a waste of a good motocross course.

  • robotribe

    Amen, brother.

  • DoctorNine

    I think cycling is still safer per mile than snow skiing, but I could be wrong about that. Misperception of the risks of motorcycling, completely obliterate any rational discussion of the sport for some people.

    It’s like a hawk trying to explain to a groundhog why it has to fly.

  • perizoqui

    Perhaps if we all rode this:
    We’d get a little more respect?

  • Toby


  • BigRooster

    Awesome – but what’s wrong with jogging? Regardless… I’m a runner, not a jogger.

    • Mark D [EX500]

      Jogging is what we do when we haven’t run for a while!

    • the_doctor

      I was going to ask this, but, I usually pass people while jogging, so I guess that qualifies as running.

    • kidchampion

      I’ve had more close calls with distracted drivers while running than on a motorcycle. I’ve had to become much more of a defensive runner.

    • Ryan

      It implies they’re not fit and are going to keel over from a heart attack.

    • bluemoco
  • BigRooster

    “Carter Edman is an architect, writer, and rider in Cleveland, Ohio. He teaches “Motorcycles and American Culture” and other courses at Case Western Reserve University.”

    …he was also on Jeopardy and wore a bow-tie.

    • Kevin

      Professor Badass.

    • stempere


    • carter

      Yes, that’s me. I love “Professor Badass” … so much better than “Senor Dork.”

  • John Merlin

    I suspect this author would equate safety and security, and agree with Carter and all of us here, that… “Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.” Helen Keller


    • BigRooster

      Did she say all that with her hips?

      • HammSammich

        Too soon! ;)

  • stefano


    though, if i’m honest, i do occasionally enjoy jogging.

  • TreMoto_Eddie

    Carter Edman for Governor of Wisconsin!

  • Eugene

    WOW carter well put-fortunately I have been mostly spared by the ignorant but well meaning and uniformed. Been riding for forty years….. don’t they think I know the risks and have accepted them w/o hesitation.

  • DavidMG

    I’m glad there are people that can so articulately express what I feel. I only wish I was that clever.

  • Duarte Vieira

    My thoughts exactly! Can I copy this and post it… everywhere I can?

  • Ed

    After years of being away from them, I got back into motorcycles. I had been working in an Emergency Room for a few years and had seen first hand that you can die slipping in the bath tub or choking down a whopper. Life is not a permanent condition, make the best of it.

  • nymoto

    Bravo man. Well said.

  • dashzero

    “My grandfather died in his sleep, thats why I’m an insomniac now.”

  • Archer

    Ah, yes, the “why do you have to take up a whole parking space” complaint. Got that today outside a busy restaurant. It so happens that it costs about ten dollars more for me to renew registration on either my CBR600RR or my VFR in this state than what the driver of the 5 year old 3 series BMW I had a run in with on that subject pays. I pay the same fuel tax rate, and have higher requirements than she does for my M endorsed license. I have a right to my full lane on the freeway and a right to the same parking space she does. I could go on, but you get the point. So STFU, beeotch.

    • Gene

      There’s also the asshole that parks halfway over the line “because there’s just a bike there”

      What pisses me off even more are the “pregnant woman” spots in some of the malls. So because you can’t keep your pants on and you’re about to squeeze out yet another brat, you get a spot by the door?

      • nick2ny

        You sound like a typical nulligravida.

      • BigRooster

        You know anyone can part in those spots right? They are not designated by law like handicap spots, its just a courtesy thing. You can pull right into one and use it if you want. You will look like an ass, but you can do it without fear of a ticket. Besides, spots by the door are for lazy people.

      • pplassm

        This wouldn’t be a problem if we could designate pregnant women as temporarily handicapped. They kind of are, aren’t they?

        • nick2ny

          +1, that makes sense.

    • Roman

      I’m perfectly happy to park in a motorcycle only spot or better yet, right on the curb if it was legal. Wanna write city council or state legislature in support of such a law? No? Then STFU.

    • Dave H

      Oh yeah. One of my friends posted up a picture bitching about how some ‘asshole on a motorcycle’ took the last parking spot at the store she was at. I just asked, WTF are we supposed to do? We can’t park on the sidewalk, and if a place doesn’t have motorcycle parking, we have to use a regular spot. That doesn’t make a rider an asshole, if anything it makes them a law abiding citizen. Just because most of the population of this country thinks that motorcycles are nothing but toys to be used on the weekends doesn’t suddenly remove the fact that they can be used as daily drivers.

      • Ben

        My bike got impounded once because an Audi driving yuppie douche in Vancouver moved it over and parked in my spot.

        I reported it stolen and the cops took me to the impound where I had to pay a parking ticket.

        • nick2ny

          Steering lock?

          • HammSammich

            Or just leave it in gear – a typical audi driving yuppie d-bag wouldn’t be able to find the clutch. :)

  • Simon

    Well said – especially the uncle anecdotes, I get one of those at most social gatherings. One thing though, what’s a Putting helmet? I might get one.

    • Jesse

      Putting helmets reduce the severity of injuries on golf courses.

  • filly-fuzz

    Love it, Love it, Love it!

  • stempere

    Most people are idiots and scream danger or idiocy to me when i reveal that i ride, but are flabbergasted when they’re told my fullface protects the most exposed surface on my head, that i wear a full back protector (“oh what’s that?”) that i see (and look for) drivers texting in their cars and act accordingly, that i check my lights, oil, pressure, at least once a week and not once a year.

    Most people think we ride as they drive, not properly trained or equipped, not giving it our full attention and using unmaintained machines. Fuck them.

    • Holden and Annette

      Your last paragraph is sooo right. I’m glad you said it, to articulate what I have trouble explaining. Yes: Car drivers think motorcycles are dangerous because car drivers believe motorcyclists must be as inattentive and lazy as car drivers.

      There’s an old joke that, if the feds removed airbags from steering wheels and replaced them with steel spikes, then people would drive more carefully. Well, riding a motorcycle is like driving with that steel spike sticking out of the steering wheel. Maybe that’s how I should explain it to the non-motorcyclists who shed crocodile tears at my “hazardous” method of commuting.

    • karinajean

      oooh, next time I need to END a conversation about motorcycling I will say:

      “Don’t worry. I don’t ride like you drive.”

      letcha know if it works.

  • lidewij

    In Europe, the Netherlands, all police men if they stop/ fine you for so called dangerous driving while actually you were trying to avoid and accident and trying to save your own sorry ass gives you the same kind of anecdote about scrapping dead bodies of the tarmac. As they all tell the same story there must be some police academy instructor that teaches all these ignorant professional law abider’s this crap. Do not get me wrong because every riders death is one too many. It is this “hear say horror story” bullshit that ignorant idiots tend to reproduce that pisses me off.

  • randry

    Too bad this can’t be published in every newspaper in the country, take it and run with it, because honestly, a motorcycle site is the last place this needs to be. Thanks for putting it out there. Ride like they are trying to kill you!
    Besides cell phones, deer are one of my bigger worries. Just mssied one this morning, that will wake you up.

  • Chris

    This article has made my day. This paragraph is fucking amazing:

    “I do wear a helmet, as a matter of fact, along with other protective gear……..”

    Thank you HFL for consistently being a bright spot in my day.

  • Troy R

    Pure gold.

  • Jesse

    Beautifully written, and fine armament for when those conversations happen.

  • Tony M.

    God that was a fantastic read.
    Typically when someone starts up about how motorcycles are dangerous I just nod my head and say “Worth it” and that gets people to just shrug and walk off. Luckily I’ve had very few ‘my uncle’s friend’ stories, but now I’ve got some great ways to counter them.

  • HammSammich

    Brilliant. The one that sickens me the most is the guy that comes up to me in the parking lot and says wistfully, “Oh, man…sweet bike. Yeah, my wife won’t let me have one because, ya-know, they’re so dangerous…”

    My canned response is, “I think that’s proper grounds for a divorce,” Which is seldom received positively…

  • D Rog

    “Riding a motorcycle is dangerous”

    “Not, nearly as dangerous as being an over 50, obese, smoker.”

    Got to say that once, it was awesome.

    • Eric

      Awesome! I bet you made a friend there. =)

      • Gene

        I don’t think I’d want that sort of idiot as a friend anyways.

    • Twila

      Note to self:
      Dear Me,
      Do not read comments from D Rog while drinking a soda. It burns when being shot from the nose and choking on it.
      Love, Me.

  • the_doctor

    Sadly, this letter is only readable (now) to like-minded individuals, and joggers.

  • Brik

    I work in a hospital in Virginia horse country. We have about the same amount of ICU admittions from horse accidents as we do motorcycle accidents. Horible, maiming, debilitating, nasty accidents. It’s the chance one takes on getting on something so wild with so much power.
    In a horse accident, my fellow nurses are invariably sympathetic, and “Oh, this is horrible. It’s so sad this happened to you” etc., etc.
    In a motorcycle accident scenarion, my fellow nurses first response invarialy is “What the hell were you thinking getting on that thing!”
    I ride a streetfighter names Yellow Peril.

  • SamuraiMark

    And the (now-ex)wife’s Dad leans in close … “Waddaya wanna get uh murdercycle for?”

    I got divorced.

  • Miles Prower [690 Duke, MTS 1200]

    I think hang-gliding is safer than motorcycling.

    Hang-gliding (at least in the U.S.) is rarely attempted without many hours of instruction from sanctioned schools and properly-rated instructors.

    Every hang-glider pilot I’ve ever met was extremely safety conscious.

    Hang-gliding is most often done in groups — with lots of peer observation and safety checks.

    Midair collisions are extremely rare because pilots sharing airspace (or landing space) are very attentive — because any collision would end badly for all parties involved.

    And the #1 reason why hang-gliding is safer than motorcycling? In the air, there are no SUV-driving, cell-phone-gabbing, emailing, texting, BBM’ing, dancing-in-their-seat-to-bad-music dumbshits blindly taking left-handers or changing lanes.

    • protomech


      Hang-gliding is (relatively) safe for the same reason riding a motorcycle on a track is (relatively) safe – it’s generally done with the correct gear, training, and in safe conditions.

      Riding a motorcycle carelessly in traffic without training or proper gear (bandana, shorts, flipflops) is encroaching suicide.

      • stempere

        Just got a WTF moment when a coworker who rides a 50cc scooter in paris with nothing but an open helmet told me i was “crazy” to go to my first track day next week…

      • Nicholas Corey

        Do people really wear flipflops while riding?

        • Woonjas

          Yes they do. And in no-helmet-law states even without a helmet.

          When I ride in western NC I stand out like a sore thumb in my high-viz gear, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  • Ben W

    The only thing missing here is the delightful catch 22 wherein the same people who cry about danger see you in your full gear and throw out some criticism about the contradiction between riding and safety. That’s my favorite.

    Gotta remember the car deaths line, though.

    • jpenney

      That’s usually followed with “isn’t that hot?”

      • Ax

        So many people who should know better (ie, moto shop owners) think my Roadcrafter is a snowmobile suit.

      • Ben W

        Dear god, yes. Even a fellow rider down here insists it’s a bad idea to wear a jacket when it’s over 100 degrees because it’s just too hot. No amount of science will convince him.

        Then again, this IS Texas. That’s par for the course.

  • Jack

    I 100% think that the bullshit this article addresses this is the number one reason for the decline in youth ridership in the states. Because of “my uncle’s buddy” stories.

    How do I know? Because none of my family but my brother knows I ride. Because if they found out, they’d kill me faster than the bike will.

    • Jeremy

      Same situation for me

      • nick2ny

        +1. Everyone seems to think that riding around the block on a motorcycle == instant death. They won’t even get on the back of my motorcycle, even though I’ve ridden pretty much every day for the past 13 years and been fine.

    • Nancy

      My case! I got my first bike at age 30 and didn’t tell my mother for 3 years I am 66, still ride, and still hide things from her!!


    I just got a lecture from my dentist because he saw the worn spot on my left boot.

    • rustycb450

      LOL… you ned to see my dentist (Dr. Helvey, Ann Arbor). Guy rides a Vincent!

  • Holden and Annette

    And thanks for calling out the fuckers who cover their rear windows with stick-figure families and huge softball stickers with their demon spawns’ names. That stick-figure family is a message to me that goes, “I will fucking kill you without a shred of remorse if my sticky-faced kid drops his juice box and I take my eyes off the road for five seconds to pick it up.”

    Also: Where do people get those stick-figure families? Are they handed out in churches? Is that why I don’t see them for sale? Maybe those folks believe God forgives them for being such narcissistic, inattentively driving douchebags.

    • Gene

      I just know I want one that’s just a stick figure with a big bag of money from not having kids…

      • JVictor75

        Saw one the other day that made me laugh.

        Wish I’d gotten a picture of it:

        Male stick figure, Motorcycle, Beer Stein, Video game controller, Dog, Dollar signs.

        I’ve also had someone tell me about a variation of the above:

        Male stick figure, Female stick figure, Blue motorcycle, Pink motorcycle, Beer Stein, Wine glass, Dog, Cat, Dollar sign.

        • Roman

          Love it, but also reminds me of Idiocracy. They’re outbreeding us man!

        • JMcMahon

          I always want to buy one solo female figure and then fill the rest of the rear window with 60+ cat figures. But buying a 1974 powder blue Grand Marquis just for a crazy cat lady joke just isn’t in the cards right now.

          • Kattywampus

            I’ve actually seen that before.

      • Mark D [EX500]
        • rustycb450

          No matter the conversation, there’s an XKCD that applys to it. :)

        • Gene

          YES! That’s the one I was thinking of!

    • Martin Cron

      When I see the stick figure family stickers, I just wonder why I need to know exactly how many times they’ve forgotten to use birth control.

    • Archer

      I never saw this until I moved to Utah so I figured it was a Mormon thing. The only thing more terrifying than a Suburban with 19 stick figures (including frackin’ PETS) on the back window is a 16 year old blonde in a Chevy Malibu with a cellphone.

      • JVictor75

        Actually, the only thing more terrifying than all of the above is having a teeny tiny little blonde girl applying makeup and gabbing on the cellphone appear in your rearview while she is driving a lifted Longbed Crewcab F-350 King Ranch edition dually(complete with diamond plate sewer pipe bumpers, headache rack, and farm tags) inexpertly thru College Station traffic on a Saturday afternoon before a Texas A&M game. Doubt she would’ve even noticed if she’d run me over, what with Texas Avenue being like it was at the time.

        • Angela Armstrong Loppe


        • Nicholas Griffin

          Volvo is still league leader.

    • bluemoco

      Wow. I bet you’re fun at a party.

      I have a set of these on my EB Flex.

      I promise I won’t ‘kill you without a shred of remorse’, either. But you’ll probably only see my taillights anyway.

      • Holden and Annette

        No, I’m not fun at a party.

        And thanks for promising not to kill me, or at least to feel remorse if you do.

        And I promise not to take it personally if all I see is your taillights. *Someone* here has to not take it personally, and it’ll hafta be me.

    • William Ahlers

      Honestly, I actually own a minivan that transports three kids and I still have no idea waht motivates these people to put stick figure family stickers on their cars. And the names on it is just stupid.

      • Frank

        You are obviously embarrased by a familys love for their kids, why is that?

      • zweirad

        We own a mini-van (my wife’s ’95 Previa) and have no kids, only furry ones. The bumper sticker on it says “Look Twice Save a Life / Motorcycles are Everywhere.” Try as I might, there is no way she will give up the van. The cool thing is, she also digs my GS. :)

    • Eric Longbine

      I ride AND have those obnoxious stickers on the back of my car….albeit, It’s Darth Vader, Padme Amidalla, and two little Luke Skywalkers representing my twin boys. I love the article, but don’t make nome naieve comment lumping anyone with those stickers into the “dumb fuck” catergory. Doing so doen’t make you any better that the “all bikers are dangerous” idiots mentioned above.

      • KN1066

        Good essay, but as you point out, he objects to stereotyping while doing the same himself. I say live and let live.

    • gerryalden

      I can do you one better Holden and Annette- As a wised-up motorcyclist, there is a particular alpha-numeric stick figure on the back of vehicles that warns me of immediate existing danger. This figure is a rearward facing automobile model logo, Subaru (clueless buyers=clueless drivers) and Ranger (nasty old guys in little trucks) These nameplates signify that something very bad is about to happen in traffic.

    • Candi Cooper-Towler

      Saw one with a zombie family. Funny, but Too close for comfort.

    • Michael-Jon Simpson

      No they don’t hand them out in churches lol And yes they are for sale in shops or given away for free at some dealerships. Zombie stick family is pretty legit.

    • JohnnyWaffles

      Favorite post. Ever.

    • Reid

      I have a sticker featuring a tyrannosaurus rex eating a whole bunch of the stick people. The caption reads: “Your stick family was delicious.”

  • Devin Stone

    Didn’t the original article say that the author was going to submit it to McSweeney’s but posted it here instead? That was hilarious.

  • JVictor75

    I can’t quite decide who I should “reply” to in order to show my full agreement with your opinion, so here’s a blanket agreement with what 90% of the people posting replies to this editorial are saying.

    I’ve actually started saying the line about “sounds like grounds for a divorce” to my male colleagues who talk about their wives not letting them have a bike, I then ask them if they even want a bike. If they say no I tell them to quit hiding behind their wife/significant other and just be honest. It isn’t exactly being fair to the SigO to blame them if you aren’t going to fight them on it.

    If they are male, do want a bike, and are close enough friends I usually also call them p-whipped and ask them what other decisions they let the Mrs make for them, do they get outfits picked out for them to wear, etc. If the person in question is female, I tend to ask them why they are letting the man in their life make all their decisions for them. I laugh if off, tell them I’m joking and that it isn’t my business, but I think I get my point across.

    Maybe it’s because I’m a short timer now (recently found out that I’m getting medically retired from the military after 15 years – Coronary Artery Disease) but I’ve made the discovery that little stuff that has bothered me for the entire time I’ve been involved with the DoD has become the veritable peapod in “The Princess and the Pea”.

    That irritation with random idiocy has now spilled over into my private life, and I find myself less and less willing to put up with random mental rejects and their opinions.

    Differences of opinion are fine, and if you have a strongly held conviction and a compelling argument I’ll listen to you with baited breath. I might end up disagreeing with you, but that’s the fun part – rational discourse with an intelligent adult.

    Telling me my decisions (political, theological, and life) are wrong simply based on third party information (the veritable “my neighbors – uncle’s – college rommate said that…”) is a sure fired way to piss me off and make me less inclined to listen to anything you have to say on any subject in the future.

  • Eben

    I’ve actually never had this happen to me. I’ve had people tell me why THEY would never ride a motorcycle because they’ve seen or heard of horrible crashes. I’ve had an ER nurse tell me that she hated motorcycles because of all the bright, young people she’d seen killed or turned into vegetables in a motorcycle crash. But no one has ever told me that I shouldn’t ride or that I should do anything differently. Just the regular, “be careful out there.”

    Most of the criticism I’ve received regarding my motorcycle hobby comes from other motorcyclists. Mainly cruiser-riding friends telling me my bike is too quiet, too fast, has too much plastic or that dirt bikes are for rednecks.

  • Steve

    At 64 years, nobody bothers you with that crap. You become sort of a living arguement. I do have my lines ready, however. Like “much more worried about my cholesterol.” Peter Eagan had a tidy response to the usual female admonishment “I’m surprised your wife lets you have a motorcycle.” He says, lovingly, “Me too….every time!”
    Steve Wurr

    • AHA

      When I qualified for my midlife crisis, I told my wife getting a motorbike would be cheaper than either a mistress or a Ferrari. 3 bikes later, still no comeback.

      • Mark D [EX500]

        I’m filing that one away for 25 years, and using it when I want to drop $20k on a race bike :)

        • KN1066

          25 years from now you will want a Geezer Glide.

          • Ryan Stewart

            Word, choose wisely. My dad got an MV Agusta as part of his mid-life and couldnt ride it. Good for me though, I bought it off of him.

  • WhoDey

    Fuck. And. YES!

  • Martin Cron

    For a long time I thought that injuries on motorcycles were inevitable. And then I remembered that my father’s accident happened while he was passing a bottle of whiskey to another Harley rider while traveling at freeway speeds without wearing a helmet or really any riding gear besides a Marlon Brando jacket.

    Sort of puts the whole “risk tolerance” thing in perspective, and makes you wonder about putting those guys in the same category as sober urban daily drivers when calculating injuries-per-mile.

  • Denzel

    A goldfish with a passport may be delusional, but that’s one effing competent goldfish…

  • Roman

    I ain’t no snitch, but I’m seeing this pop up all over my Facebook wall among my riding friends. Pretty cool to see actually.

    • JVictor75

      Oh, I totally stole it and posted it on my FB page. I just made sure that the byline and source info was correct. I might have brought in a few new readers by doing so. *shrug*

  • sbraman

    perfectly said

  • Hamfisted

    Guess what, people stop caring what the hell your doing when you get older.

  • randry

    I’m laughing my ass off reading the paper this morning. I don’t know if Dear Abbey has the same story syndicated around the country, but this mornings was about this very subject.
    The husband got in a crash broke some bones right after getting his bike. He won’t quit riding it. Now the wife cries every time he leaves on it. Abbey said a nurse told her what perfect organ donars we make. and that if he cares so little about her to make sure he wears a helmet, signs his drivers license to be a donar, get a big life insurance policy on him.
    I’m just gald to see he’s got the balls to keep riding. YOU GO BOY. Do a smokey burn out for good measure.

  • Keith

    I usually reply to the
    “My buddys uncle crashed” with…
    “and a bunch of people were killed sitting in their offices in New York”
    Harsh? Yes, but shuts them up fast.

    • nick2ny

      Oh man!

    • bklynebeth


  • doublet

    My uncle use to race dirtbikes! True story

    When I was 18, I was sitting at the computer, drooling over some motorcycles. I can remember casually mentioning to my mom that ‘maybe I should get a motorcycle to commute on, as it would be cheap on gas’ just testing the waters. How surprised and inspired was I when she responded some sort of affirming statement! That was the day I knew I decided I was going to get a bike, and I did.

    These people in our lives have very powerful influences, and it’s a shame when they can’t understand the liability they hold with there personal feelings. Sure she was afraid I would die, but she’s told me she learned to get over that years ago when we were young.

  • pplassm

    “Crazy Ivan” and “Sausage Creature” I knew.

    “Antoine Predock” I had to look up!

  • sanjuro

    I don’t care what non-riders think about motorcycling. It is like asking me how a mother should deal with the pain of childbirth. I have no idea.

    I hear in their voices their irritation, jealous, stupidity, fear, and concern. Once in a blue moon, I hear admiration, but it is rare.

    I don’t need to hear, “Be careful”, “A friend/relative/coworker was killed/maimed on a motorcycle”, or “A biker almost hit me on the highway. You’re not one of those people who goes between cars?” It is not very informative or supportive.

    The risks I manage and the joy I feel from riding only other riders will understand. I’m polite to non-riders because it is easier than educating them or telling them off. But they have nothing to offer to me, and I don’t care what they think.

  • Racetrack Style

    Saw an old dude driving an equally old car w/ a bumper sticker that said,

    Put down the phone
    And nobody gets hurt

    It’s really that simple to cutout a lot of nonsense

  • iconmotosports

    We just point to the garish skull logos on our jackets and laugh maniacally.

    • Wes Siler

      Of course you do.

  • Dakota Benjamin

    Great article, Carter! If only you were this virulent in class!

  • Emmanuel Meris

    Dear Carter,

    Cry me a river. ;)

    I work in a hospotal. Enough said? No? Ok.. Well the surgeons have nicknamed me ‘Organ Donor’.

    Exceptionally well written. You have hit the nail on the head. I don’t have your talent with words, so like it or not, I am ripping it off and sticking it on my locker!

  • zelman

    “My uncle’s friend…”
    “My friend’s ex…”
    “My barista’s mailman…”

    I feel and understand each and every one. Promise.

    I can’t guestimate how many times I’ve been down on my bike. My last BIG one 2 1/2 yrs ago ended with a broken back, all my right side ribs, and shoulder.

    My answer is always the same- I’m living happily rather than dying otherwise.

    Few get that.

    For me- one of the appeals of motorcycling is that it’s one of the few things with modern humans where Darwinism still applies,

    Fewer get that one. The one’s that do would probably be decent riders :)

    But I’m no expert.

  • Tony

    I love you guys <3

  • Holli

    I do not even understand how I finished up right here, but I believed this submit used to be great. I don’t know who you are but definitely you’re going to a famous blogger should you aren’t already Cheers!

  • Richard Millstead

    This is amazing.

  • ms

    I appreciate the horror stories. I assume they’re from folks who want to feel involved with something somebody is actively doing, but have nothing else to talk about and don’t actively do anything themselves. I’ve ridden solo across a couple continents- no matter where I go, on any type of bike, in any weather, wearing however much gear, somebody’s brother or best friend or brother’s best friend has died a gruesome death on a bike and maybe even was decapitated and I nod and say “That’s terrible! Bikes are the best but you’ve got to stay focused.”

    That said. My favourite thing is when other chicks– especially unexpected ones, like the older lady at work who wears floral pantsuits and cardigans and has dangly sparkly things on her eyeglasses– come up and, after a stern look at my gear and the helmet in my hand, instead of passing judgment, ask me how they can learn to ride. It happens at least once a month. Love.

  • Robert Clark

    Great letter. I need to share this on FB with proper credit of course.

  • Marneen

    What a great article! Great Read! Keep the rubber side down! :)

  • Frank Esposito

    Carter, let me thank you for such a good read.

    I’ve riden on and off for 43 years. In 2006 I went for a little slide, westbound on the eastbound side of Malibu Cyn after swerving to miss a rock. I was banned from two wheels by my girlfriend, friends and family…. Who could not understand (and didn’t want me crippled for life) my love for the openness of a motorcycle. Of course I still rode my HD Dyna Lowrider for about 9 months till I sold it for the right price (I made a profit).

    So, after a couple of years, I came home with an Ural Patrol. “Fucking loopholes” the girlfriend said. The only motorcycle currently being made stock with a sidecar. And for two years every time I stopped, I had to add 10 minute (so I wouldn’t be late) to answer all the questions I got about my ride. And I enjoyed every question. I still drove a 2006 Mini Cooper S daily, but at least I had a motorcycle (when the electrical was working) to ride.

    And then on February 6, 2011…. I sold the Ural (for a profit) and that same day bought a used 2008 CanAm Spyder. Within 2 months, the Mini was sold, and I now ride a motorcycle every day. Yes, it is a motorcycle. A motorcycle (also called a motorbike, bike, moto or cycle) is a two or three wheeled motor vehicle. Motorcycles vary considerably depending on the task they are designed for, such as long distance travel, navigating congested urban traffic, cruising, sport and racing, or off-road conditions.

    I have two other bikes. A Honda CB750F with a sidecar and a 1976 Kawasaki 650/4 which I am turning in to a Bobber…

    I’ve got lots of long sleeve t’s and a couple sets of rain gear, but they say it never rains in Southern California…

    Ride safe, and watch out for those guys in the cages…

  • Cubby515

    I drive 45 miles one way to work in the rain, snow flurries or shine. People say “your crazy” i usually stop them right there and ask what they ride, big silence, that’s what i thought.

  • IQTech52

    I can just imagine what it would be like to see a motorcycle with a machine gun mounted on it.
    But I do have an idea. Mount a transmitter on every motorcycle and emergency vehicle and a receiver in every car that cannot be turned off. The receiver would then inform the driver of the sound proof box to pay attention because a motorcycle is ahead, behind or next to their vehicle.

    No more “But he came out of no where!”. You were warned and chose not to pay attention.

  • Ned Williams

    Actually the first thing I say to someone when I find out they ride on a motorcycle is are you a member of your state’s ABATE,AMA,MRF or NCOM, if their in the states, if their in Europe I ask if they are a member of MAG. As motorcyclists we have to understand that all those people the author is referring to do not care if you ride or not, and if your choice to ride effects them negatively for example your choice to ride may raise their insurance rates, then they will just as quickly march on their capital to deny you the right to ride. Stand up riders, join together, if you don’t your lifestyle may very well disappear.

    • gerryalden

      What we stand together on is a pledge we our personally responsible for our own safety, and will never depend on the prudent driver actions of others. We 100% defend. Maimed, injured, disabled for life, riders are those who held a false belief they are specially watched out for, especially when members of some MRO. If you defend by creating a solid personal code of safe riding ethics, you’ll help my insurance rates. Not the other way around.

  • Joey Duncan

    This isn’t true,ride in a car with somebody who isn’t a car person, look and see how often they pay attention when you hear a noise. Sound is not a safety feature, if everybody has loud “motorcycles” then nobody will pay attention, for the same reason you can’t smell your own smell. You no longer sense it, your body just ignores it. It’s just a simple fact that most people who are going to hit a person weren’t paying attention to begin with adding sound to the equation will change nothing.

    • John Yanzuk

      I understand your point, but I’m just trying to do whatever is necessary to be seen. Hi-Viz gear, defensive driving, banning cell phone usage while piloting a 5000 lb battering ram, anything to get people to keep their eyes on the road. In my own experience out here in PA I’ve had quite a few instances where people were yapping on phones only to sharply turn their heads when the Vulcan blares its song. I make eye contact with them. They have seen me.

      • gerryalden

        Warning, never make eye contact as the only meaningful strategy to predict the driver is aware of your presence. Ultimately we don’t see with our eyes, it is our cognitive brain that connects the eyes light wave output into learned personal experiences. Many crash riders who have their right-of-way removed, reported making eye contact just before the driver pulls out. One women even waved back, before running over, stopping and backing up over the prone body, never ever realizing the strange bump was a motorcyclist. My strategy is to focus on the drivers wheel movement relative to the ground as an indicator that I may not be seen. Never the eyes. Especially if they are looking my way. Especially as a “belief” I may have in any noise I may produce, has registered with another stranger.

  • NathanJessup

    The Truth is that riding a motorcycle is way more dangerous than driving a car. If you ride a motorcycle you are harder to see. Period. I read this cause someone I know posted it on Facebook with all the righteousness that I’ve heard over and over from motorcycle riders about how everyone else needs to pay attention when driving. Non-motorcycle riders get hit by the same people for the same reasons (distracted driving, bad lane changes, etc). But guess what? That’s what happens out there on the road these days so stop thinking you’re special when it happens and you’re on a motorcycle. If you do choose to ride and get in an accident you’re way more likely to have serious injury and die. That’s a FACT. It’s science. If you deny it you’re an idiot. Do don’t be surprised if someone you know, perhaps a friend or family member is concerned when you make the decision to ride a motorcycle. They’re not preaching. If you feel like the risk is worth the reward, then good for you…but don’t bitch about how other people on the road need to go out of their way to keep you safe. Any by the way, I personally know (not a friend of a friend) several people who have had motorcycle accidents. Of the 3 people I know: 1 is dead, 2 were in critical condition, have had to have major surgeries and will have medical issue the rest of their lives. All separate unrelated incidents. Of the two who survived, 1 still rides and 1 does not.

    • Nicholas Corey

      No one is asking people to stay out of our way, we are asking that you stop living in your cars and pay slightly more attention to the road then you currently are because if you just took that extra second you would see us. If you aware we exist you’ll notice almost 1000 lbs of man and machine travelling in a lane. The problem is people don’t pay attention and don’t care to. They eat, drink, talk on their phone, text, dance, and do all sorts of things unrelated to driving in their car. If you need to eat or have a cup of coffee. Eat at the shop you got it at, drink the coffee in the cafe, dont do it in your car. You need to take a call pull over. You have to write an important text pull over. Why risk ruining a humans life because you should be able to do whatever you want.

  • gogogusgus

    horse people … they’re the crazy ones

  • Frank Esposito
  • Alex Crookes

    Here’s my take on Why I Ride A Motorcycle and no, I’m not reckless or in a gang.

  • Rob Hicks

    Awesome! I don’t know what else to say.

  • Jerry Stenstrom

    Great article and nice looking bike, can we get a side shot???

  • RustDeamon

    Awesome letter I am going to print it out and keep 2 copies in my bike for the next occasion I feel I could use it to save me breath.

  • John Gianoulidis

    Fuck ya! thanks for doing all the work summing up my thoughts!

  • Larry

    An open letter to all who ride motorcycles:

    I am more than happy to look out for other motor vehicles when driving on public roads, including motorcycles. In fact, that is a requirement for anybody who operates motor vehicles on public highways. But I ask riders of motorcycles to do their share of looking out for the other guy and operate your motor vehicles in a responsible, legal, and safe manner. And speaking of safety, always wear a DOT approved motorcycle safety helmet. Like seat belts, safety helmets helmets cannot do any good if they are not worn.

    Although I am happy to look out for you, I am not happy at all in hearing your motorcycle’s exhaust noise emissions at a level louder than as originally manufactured. In fact, the majority of the public feels the same way. And another fact is that there are laws and regulations that prohibit that excessive noise and the tampering behind it. So I also ask riders of motorcycles to look out for the rights of the public to be free from excessive and unnecessary motorcycle noise and comply with the laws and regulations prohibiting it. And speaking of the root cause of that noise, illicit tampering with exhaust noise suppression equipment, I ask you to refrain from engaging in that tampering and maintain your state and federally regulated motorcycles in their originally manufactured and equipped EPA noise emission compliant state.

    We all need to look out for each other and obey the laws.

  • gerryalden

    Some bikes have loud exhaust, Professor? My private research confirms 85% operate outside the general muffler regulations. Most of the 15% represent new bikes, awaiting excessively louder silencer swaps. The result of this majority motorcyclists’ behavior produces an adverse health effect among the public. Worse these illicit “acts” to raise a standard volume on a low-noise-exhaust-emission product and operate on a public way represents billions of adverse health potential events. If your state had a billion number of any type of environment crimes taken place per year, people would be screaming for legislative cures and strict enforcement. Think I’m overreaching the problem? Simply find the number of registered motorcycles in your state, times 85%, multiply this number by the average yearly mileage ridden by NADA figures. Then find your states population density number and multiply to determine how many innocent people have unwanted sound pressure enter their eyes as a result of multiple violations in traffic code and environmental soundscape laws, each year. Shouldn’t you of stated that some bikes are not loud, and very little of the billions of nuisance noise events are from legally ridden highway products? Isn’t it the few good apples giving a bad name to the majority of loud bikers?

    There has been a serious comprehensive study of motorcycle safety since 1981, the M.A.I.D.S. by Acem, and it shared the conclusions of the HURT report that riding loud is not a safer ride. The science offered by these two in depth accident studies removes any claim by anecdotal evidence that excessive noise represents an increased safety factor. Modified conventional motorcycles, like those with custom pipes are over-represented in the accident statistics. Raised standard volumes in highway operation equals more risk of getting injured or dying. The evidence to explain why is overwhelming.

    As a 37 year experienced, expert, motorcyclist extraordinaire, I share much of the reasoning behind your passion, but I find your knowledge about motorcycling in our culture very lacking. It is extremely troubling that you are teaching a subject with the word “Motorcycles” in the title, to others.

  • gerryalden

    This author simply has not yet “got it” in his life’s pursuit to understand danger avoidance in highway motorcycling. Motorcycles are not more likely to get hit as a result of drivers not paying attention, or not being seen, or because their presence is not in the drivers cognitive awareness, they are hit because of the lack of proper personal code of riding ethics to protect from the mistake of others, and the predictable dangers of the road. Simply put, our world is not perfect, but it is perfectly imperfect. A car can get hit by a truck, a truck a bus, a bus a train, a train a plane, and the plane can crash. Which vehicle will you prefer? Motorcycle safety means no absence of risk. Therefore riders, are compelled to minimize risks down to such a high degree to experience many miles and successfully survive the driving failures of others, by actions designed for proper outcomes. They can predict the likely hood of animal crossing, slippery conditions and other riding dangers and take proactive measures to avoid problems. Riders can survive and thrive, but not if they are fully or partially dependent on the actions of others. Especially when they beg for it, and foolishly write essays pleading for it.

    The billionaire capital titan Malcolm Forbes stated it best when he said he lived a deprived life, because he didn’t start riding motorcycles until he was 53 years old. This from a man who owned the greatest mansion on every continent, and who’s private plane was a 747. Our great sport can grant you the life you never dreamed of or it can take it away. We should all know that when we swing a leg over the seat. The Capital Tools motorcyclist died of a heart attack at home. Creating a personal code of successful riding ethics to avoid trouble, is key. Without it you’re just a numerical value in a meaningless statistical report, or worse a horror story passed on by friends or family. Did I mention Malcolm Forbes heart attack occurred in Far Hills where he stored a huge collection of street-ready-riding motorcycles?

  • gerryalden

    John WRONG WRONG WRONG. Excessive noise and motorcycle safety is implicitly connected but never the way you suggest. Science has proven modified loud motorcycles are over-represented in accidents. Studies prove the human body makes brain received chemicals as a result of excessive noise, adversely effecting the ability to cognitively predict, decide and execute life saving riding actions, right at the most important moments.
    Give me any anecdotal situation where you believe your excessive sound had a meaningful purpose and I’ll show you how a silent bike ridden through the same situation by known defensive actions was qualitatively and quantitively more safe. No rider I’ve ever challenged with this premise has taken me up. We all know why. Loud Lives Save Pipes, because when you’re dead it’s too late to argue how stupid your believe in LPSL was.

    • Twila

      I don’t know about you but I always look for the ambulance BECAUSE I hear the LOUD and OBNOXIOUS sirens and then I try to be sure I’m not in the way of them.

  • Tracyie Atkins Ricker

    thank you for putting your voice out. more need to. especially the weekend riders who bitch about bikers through the week.

  • Twila

    Hangs it up with several of the comments on the wall in her office…
    Looks at her 750 Shadow glimmering in the parking lot…
    Grins at it taking up a FULL parking spot….

  • Mike

    I found this about a year late, but how ’bout a round of applause!!!!

  • David

    Great and thank you.

  • themaltese

    I get pissed off when some douchebag calls our bikes “organ donors.” Perhaps they should worry about their cars getting branded as murderers before making our bikes donate our organs. I really do believe that when anyone goes to get a drivers license, they should go through a training program that features cars, big rigs, and motorcycles. Like this, every one knows what it’s like in/on each type of vehicle, and they will think twice before sliding in 10ft in front of a braking big rig, or turning without looking for a bike.

  • Tim

    “They won’t let me mount a .50-caliber machine gun to my bike”
    Your loss man. People get out of my way.

    • Twila

      WANT! LOL!!!

  • Dom Toretto

    Motorcycles are dangerous. Please be careful.

  • Les Mcc

    if loud pipes save lives…why are they pointing backwards?

    • Les Mcc

      saw a guy on a loud obnoxious bike…he had earplugs in. made me think, “if YOU don’t like how loud your stupid bike is….why do you think everyone else within 3 miles wants to hear it?”

      • Sean MacDonald

        you’re kidding, right?

  • Jeff G

    i’ve been riding since my teens, ( i’m 52 now ) and the feeling of freedom, excitement, raw power, speed and energy all rolled into one sensation is on my motorcycle. literally the only other thing that’s come remotely close is sex and my bike never gets a headache or goes on the rag.

  • RL Johnson

    i must say i do agree with you – about riding AND about hang gliding!! lol – its so true about car drivers.. had an old man smile at me then he pulled into our lane on top of us. i still dont know what the f**k he thought he was doing. he certainly couldnt say he didnt see us.. while i personally thank whatever gods there are that we were wearing our helmets when we got hit & i do think them important – about the only thing i might ask would be what kind you prefer :) – thank you for speaking out about this – it needs to be said loudly!! – i miss riding – but this old back of mine has said no more… stay safe out there & watch out for the crazies!

  • Stokes

    Hear, hear – I’m 63 years old, I’ve been riding since I was 16 years old. I commute on my bike every day and at least once, often more, someone tries to kill me by occupying the space I am in already. I was T-boned by a driver in a left hand only turn lane who decided he wanted to go straight and not turn; he was talking on his cell phone at the time. I’ve seen people doing everything in their car except paying attention. Fortunately, I pay attention to them.

  • Amy D. Bernard

    .50 cal is too heavy for a motorcycle. Try an M-60 instead, it’s .30 cal but will deal with most other vehicles nicely.
    I used to ride, don’t any more due to past injuries, climate where I live, & the cost of a trike. Doesn’t stop me from drooling over a sweet ride.

  • ScouterJohn

    As a “mad cyclist” (almost sixty years on two wheels, and powerless, at that) I fully sympathize. I can ride with lights on, with a “poison-yellow ” or “improved-sunshine yellow” jacket, with enough flashy stripes to blind people, and STILL some will not see me.
    Sure – I know cycling is “dangerous” – the danger is primarily to my own person, a risk I can assess, deal with, and minimize. What the motorist does not realise is that driving a car is ALSO dangerous – and primarily to others- pedestrians, cyclists, bikers, other drivers.
    If you, the driver, are worried about safety – hang up the phone – turn it off, even. turn down, or off, tha radio. If the music can be heard a block or so away, with all the windows up – it’s far too loud. Leave the air-conditioning system alone, do not engage the auto-pilot. If you need to look at a map, or your GPS – pull off, and stop. Learn to read it, and memorize the route, or a part of it, so that you can do the one job you have – the same one I have on my bike – DRIVING. Driving is the primary job – anything that detracts from that, takes your attention away, is a probable cause for trouble.
    No – I’m not homeless, nor a wastrel. I just happen to enjoy cycling. In town, it’s very nearly as fast as a car, far cheaper, and good for my health (far better than sitting on a fat butt, driving to the Gym, to sweat for fifteen minutes, and thing I’ve “really worked out”)
    By the way – I DO know you’re there, behind me – that’s why I have mirrors, and NO plugs in my ears. I can also hear sirens, and locate them. I DO stop for: Stop Signs, Stop Lights, Pedestrians in cross-walks (and even out of them) Emergency Vehicles. I DO see people waiting to make a left turn, and if I can, I wave them on. In short I’m a trained driver, and proud of it. I wish you were at least as competent, before you open your mouth, and prove your ignorance.

  • cátia Xavier

    Love it, going to make translation for Portuguese… it deserves to be understood!

  • Tedd

    Are these horror stories really that common? I’ve been riding motorcycles for going on thirty years and I don’t ever remember somebody telling me the kind of horror stories people here are talking about. The normal reaction I get when I tell someone I ride is, “Cool, what kind of bike do you have?”

    Agree about the read window stickers, though. Are they meant to be annoying?

  • runnermatt

    This was one of the first articles I read on Hell for Leather. It was before Hell for Leather became free to all instead of a subscription service. Still an awesome piece.

  • stephen

    wasn’t this posted a while back?

  • aircraftmech

    Great open letter!

  • Nuclear Penetration

    Been riding motorcycles for years, there are tons of idiots riding motorcycles just like there are tons of idiots driving cars. Riding a motorcycle doesnt make you a special unique person, and just because someone drives a car it doesnt mean they dont live their lives to the fullest. Cant believe i even read half of this.

  • ManApeGoneWrong

    Fantastic fucking article, man.

  • William Anderson

    Love it! Every motorist should give this a read.. Whether they are a motorcyclist or not.

  • William Anderson

    Love it! Every motorist should give this a read.. Whether they are a motorcyclist or not.

  • Zed

    Now that is a class I would take. Online???

  • Sharon Ainsworth Sullivan

    Ok. I have not ridden a motorcycle since I was a kid, and I rode on the back of my father’s Indian. I have no excuses for the following poem. I was about 11, and it was 1954, so no helmets. I had no idea of the possible dangers, I just had an unforgettable adventure!
    The Indian! Turkey Chase

    Jeans, boots, and jackets,
    My hair wrapped in a scarf,
    We ride an adventure
    Through the fields,
    Over log bridges, into the forest
    Where no road goes.

    Encapsulated in an aura
    Of flying thunder,
    I cling to Daddy’s jacket;
    His body shelters me
    As we fly on the flat
    And bounce on the rough.

    Other cycles join us on this journey
    - scary and comic by turn -
    Paladins questing for thrills
    Through ditches, in the mud -
    And sharing mud freely in spatters.
    Finally, we laugh and shout as we relive
    Each bump at the end of the course.
    Sharon Sullivan

  • Carol Medlock

    After twenty years of riding I appreciated reading this and thanks for saying what needed to be said

  • Rob Dogg

    Amen! Freedom=no cages

  • Melon Whack

    Actually…. hang-gliding is extremely safe. :)

  • Don Williams

    Great synapse on what many motorcyclists think and well said

  • Hans Uder

    This was a great article . Thank you.

    Hans Uder – artist and motorbiker

  • Cafe_Nut

    Dude, this is brilliant and totally on the money! Well-written and even more well-said! I love your anecdotes and the way you just “tell it how it is”. My good sir, you are a gentleman and a scholar!.. and a beacon of hope to motorcyclists everywhere! Considering the plight we are undergoing here in Queensland, this is a rather poignant article indeed! Thank you and stay upright! Cheers from Oz! :)

  • Behind Blue Eyes

    I haven’t owned a car in 19 months. I have managed 18-20k miles since moving halfway across the country on two wheels. I ride up and down A1A when needed. My excitement… Getting lost on purpose !

  • Stibbs11

    Good article. Keep it coming.
    I’m sure you missed something, maybe adding how truckers see us better than cars or how drunks see us better (2X)? Just a thought.
    Is that a Guzzi your on?

  • Keith Schiffner

    I see zero stereotyping…it’s straight up fact.

  • Peter Negru

    its 4.30 in the morning. i’ve been reading these article for the past 6?7? hours. keep them coming!

  • MattWessels

    You are brilliant! Not only for saying the same thing as this age-old argument is in a new an interesting way, but also for throwing a Firefly and Hunter S. Thompson reference into the same article…. WIN!

  • Nola Rains

    In just the last couple days there have been at least 3 bikers killed and one severely injured in this area – and it wasn’t the fault of someone turning in front of them or not seeing them. It was because the bikers apparently thought they were invincible and were driving at a high rate of speed! So don’t go blaming car and truck drivers constantly – the people who ride bikes need to use their brains too – especially that dumb-ass kid on the lime green crotch rocket who flies through my village every day at an extremely high rate of speed! I’m just waiting for the day a deer jumps out of the side ditch in front of him!

  • Brittany Neville

    Great article!

  • Ana Colja

    this is brilliant and spot on! i would just add- don’t touch my helmet, don’t try and pick it up and especially DO NOT touch my visor.

  • Stephen Harman

    I agree with everything apart from the epipen line. If as a biker you could carry an injection pen that could save your life if you were hit with a car you would, just like you wear a helmet and leathers to avoid becoming a squid.
    If you or your kid have an allergy which can cause anaphylactic shock then carrying an epipen is being over protective. Seriously?

  • ThisMicah


  • rudedog4

    right on, brother!

  • iltenori

    It would be delightful to discuss this excellent expose if I didn’t have to use street language to make a point. I never learned to lace my prose with four letter words or biased nomenclature. I believe his point is well taken and could be edited very nicely to be readable by my sainted Mother. What a shame we have to belittle ourselves by using street language and the language of the dime novel. What really bothers this writer is the admission that Carter Erdman “teaches” courses in a university. I wonder, could he benefit himself and his students by taking a remedial English course or two? One would hope so. Meanwhile, let’s keep his nearly hidden message in the forefront of our driving habits. Bikers do have a right to be seen and unhurt.

  • Juvie gonzalez

    Well said.