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Roadshow: Motorcyclists steamed over being targeted for speeding

October 25, 2009

Roadshow: Motorcyclists steamed over being targeted for speeding

By Gary Richards

Motorcyclist Bahman Safinejad was ticketed recently for speeding on Interstate 880, going around 80 mph, a speed at which he said most vehicles were traveling. The Highway Patrol officer told Safinejad he was keeping close tabs on speeding motorcyclists after two fatal crashes. That upset many readers – several of whom also were upset with my comment that a speeding crackdown was warranted and has perhaps contributed to the first decline in motorcycle fatalities in more than a decade.

Q Your article on the drop in motorcycle deaths struck a nerve. I ride and I found it very offensive that you portray riders as the primary cause of most deaths.

Justin C.

A Federal safety studies estimate that in 70 percent of fatal accidents involving motorcycles, the motorcyclist is at fault. But go on “…

Q You fail to mention if the number of motorcycles on the road, as a whole, fell concurrently with the falling number of motorcycle deaths. Or did you acknowledge the current economy may have had an effect, as fewer riders are on the road going to work during the busiest commute hours? You make a point that young males on super-bikes often ride fast. Duh! Those are purpose-built machines bought by people who want to ride fast. Young males also are reckless on Jet Skis, cars, horses, tractors, dirt bikes, go-carts and any other method of “going fast” or showing off. That is not news.

Justin C.

A But young people don’t die as often in cars, on horses, on tractors, etc. The death rate for motorcyclists overall is 35 times greater than for those in cars.

Q I believe the economy and number of bikes on the road has more of an effect on the fall of deaths than sting operations targeting motorcycles. The CHP should be cracking down on drivers eating, putting on makeup, talking on cell phones without a hands-free device, not using turn signals or any other of the countless ways in which drivers are distracted when they “just didn’t see the motorcycle.” The same effect was seen when gas prices went up sharply. So did new motorcycle registrations and purchases. With that, a whole new army of inexperienced riders took the road. Write a story with all the facts and let readers come up with their own conclusion instead of picking on a particular group of motorists, whom you obviously dislike.

Justin Case

A Geez, I’ve supported motorcyclists who split lanes, and I urge drivers to treat motorcyclists with respect. Yes, there are fewer vehicles on all roads due to the recession. But the death rate per 100 million miles for motorcyclists is nearly double what it was a decade ago – rising from 20.99 in 1997 to 37.86 in 2007.

Q Gary, do you even recognize your own prejudice against motorcycle riders? We get it all the time, but coming from you it’s disheartening. I am fully aware of how invisible we are to most motorists. If the traffic this guy was riding in was really going 80 mph and above, it would have been foolhardy for him to stick to the speed limit. Having the CHP handing out tickets selectively is not a safety measure. It’s discrimination, pure and simple. I’m glad that fatalities are down, but being singled out by law enforcement officers while scofflaw car drivers are ignored is not the reason. You should know better.

David Wood

Ashland, Ore.

A I don’t think scofflaw drivers are being ignored. Many of them dial Roadshow to make the same complaint when they are ticketed.

Q When money was easy, the unskilled and stupid bought power bikes and proceeded to crash. When money became tight, they stopped riding motorcycles and stopped crashing. That is why motorcycle deaths are down. It’s not due to stupid CHP policies targeting bikes. Meanwhile, experienced riders like me catch bogus tickets. Never had a ticket, then I catch four in the last nine months.

Fred Mandlik

A And “…

Q I find the continued discrimination by some, fortunately not most, police to be troubling at best. I agree that reducing accidents and deaths is a laudable goal and the safety courses are great. However, if you really want to improve motorcycle safety in California, go after lane splitting, which fortunately is not legal here in New York, but don’t try to justify discrimination and harassment of motorcyclists.

Lysle Gordon

Ithaca, N.Y.

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