7.16.2006,8:26 AM
Motorcycle Awareness Week: The ‘F’ Factor

We as motorcycle riders can promote and increase awareness of motorcycles simply by riding. As we all know, that isn’t enough, especially in this country where motorized bikes (including scooters) are outnumbered by four-wheeled transportation far more than in many countries overseas. While the majority of riders still own bikes for recreational purposes, more now rely on their bikes for commuting and long-distance traveling. For a small minority in this country, a bike may serve as sole transportation especially in areas where weather permits year-round riding or is served by mass transportation.

A reported 5,370,000 motorcycles were on US roads in 2003. A statistical report from the NHTSA [1] shows an increase in bike ownership in the
US, a large portion of that in the 40 and over sector of the population. Of all registered vehicles in the US in 2004, bikes made up 2.4%. That number is projected to have increased significantly over the past two years. Parallel with this is a rise in motorcycle crashes and fatalities, with California, Florida and Texas leading in the most fatalities.

In 2004, 4,008 motorcyclists were killed and an additional 76,000 were injured in traffic crashes in the United States — 8 percent more than the 3,714 motorcyclist fatalities and 14 percent more than the 67,000 motorcyclist injuries reported in 2003.

Severe injury and loss of life can be reduced by many ways, but perhaps the most effective is increasing everyone’s awareness of bikes and riding. We all have to share the roads; let’s do it safely.

Motorcycle awareness is not just an American issue but a universal one. Next week (July 16-23, 2006) is National Motorcycle Week in the United Kingdom. The Motorcycle Industry Association sponsors an annual campaign to increase awareness of owning and riding a bike to all sectors in that country: public, media and politicians. They emphasize not only safety at every level of society (riders, drivers, industry, road engineering, legislation), but also the personal, economical and social benefits.

This year’s slogan is “Have You Got the ‘F’ Factor? – Freedom, fun, friendship and flexibility." The promotion campaign in the UK is aggressive with regional and local events supporting riding and owning bikes and scooters. They encourage non-riders as well as all two-wheeled riders to participate in an activity to demonstrate to the public, politicians and press the number of people who ride and enjoy motorcycles and scooters from all walks of life.

An international event is “Rike 2 Work Day”, July 19, 2006. Every rider is encouraged to ride their two-wheeler to work, which promotes the diversity of bike riding. This will demonstrate that motorcycling is not just for weekend excursions, but for commuting as well. A significant increase in the number of bikes on the road that day will make four-wheeled drivers more aware of them on other days as well.

But as we riders know, there is more to riding bikes than commuting to work or the coffee shop: the ‘F’ Factor. A study revealed that riders described their attitudes as finding friendship, fulfillment, freedom and fun. Fun and friendship were the two main factors describing their choice to share the passion and freedom that attract people to the world of riding two wheels.

Motorcycle Awareness Week provides riders with events and ways to show the local community how motorcycle use can benefit those who ride and don’t ride. It also can help challenge preconceived ideas about motorcycling and riders.

So you riders get out your bikes and grins, put a friend on for two-up, take to the roads and show everyone how fun and economical it is to ride a bike. Above all, show them all how safe riding can be if everyone is aware of bikes on the road.

[1] Statistics from: Recent Trends in Fatal Motorcycle Crashes: An Update, (Technical Report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. June 2006)

posted by Macrobe
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