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Biker Friendly Bars: The Big Oxymoron - The Responses

We promised we’d run the responses to our "Biker Friendly Bars: The Big Oxymoron” article from Feb 2006.  Here they are in the order they were received.  Please note we have not edited the actual responses for grammar or syntax so what you see is how it came in.  To give you a better idea of who reads Sound RIDER! and who doesn't, we've noted if the response came from a subscriber in our current database.  Commentary added where applicable. TM


Thank you for your recent article, "Biker Friendly Bars: The Big Oxymoron".  While I agree with you that the press must be free, the issue of impaired riding will need for us all to do what's right, rather than what's allowed.  We must change the perception of motorcycling within our own community, and when motorcycle media promotes a connection between alcohol and riding, we feed old stereotypes.

Also, thank you for recognizing Washington Road Riders for our role in the Ride Straight program.  If we don't change thinking within the motorcycle community, others will change it for us.

Ian S. King, President (SR! Subscriber)
Washington Road Riders Association


Great Article, but probably won’t change any minds.

It seems that alcohol and loud pipes pretty much go together, so I just consider this a culling of the herd of double-digit IQ’s. In many cases, if bikes ran on Testosterone instead of gasoline, the riders could run a tube from their arm to the carburetor, thereby eliminating the gas stops and allowing more time for bar stops.

Yes, I am one of those wimps that rides a Goldwing 35,000+ miles per year and will only stop at a bar if it’s the only place in town to get something to eat.

Neil
Seattle, WA (SR! Subscriber)
GWRRA WA-A ACD


I think you missed two points in this article. 1) you can be a biker and go out for a drink in your car. 2) you can ride up to a bar and go in because you like the food and the atmosphere, even though you are just drinking soda pop there.

About QT's Commentary

Quick Throttle has responded to our Feb 2006 article about biker friendly bars in their March 2006 issue. The commentary is littered with inaccuracies, red herrings and the comparison of apples to oranges. The tone of the commentary implies that QT is neither an accessory to the problem of alcohol related motorcycle fatalities, or a part of the solution.

The article begins with the headline "Biker Friendly an Oxymoron? We Don’t Think So." We don’t think so either when we’re talking about biker friendly restaurants, motels and laundromats. But they skirted the point when they left a word out of their headline we used in ours and that they use in their directory. Do you think they considered running ‘Biker Friendly Bars An Oxymoron? We Don’t Think So.’

QT publisher Mike Dalgaard proceeds to inform his readers that Sound RIDER! was in violation of copyright law for running an image of his publication in our article. For those who would like a lesson in Copyright 101, stroll on over to the website for the US Copyright Office and have a close look at title 17, section 107 and pay close attention to the line that speaks about "for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting…".

And then another red herring comes out. Mike disputes the 2004 numbers we received from the Washington State Director of the Department of Licensing and the Coordinator for the Washington Motorcycle Safety Program. He attempts to verify our numbers through US DOT and NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) two national entities, but can’t since they won’t publish that information for public consumption until 2007. Should we wait? We’re covering a local issue with the information available to us now about the state and from the state. Why would we wait for DOT or NHTSA to run it in 2007?

Mike then cites that our numbers don’t jive with the popular HURT report. We like the HURT report and think it has been a great baseline of information ever since it was published twenty seven years ago in 1979. Mike may not be aware that it hasn’t been updated since that time. We think it’s better to work in the now than the then.

Mike thinks Biker Friendly Bars are a "necessity" for rides and poker runs. We disagree. We successfully put on 3-6 poker runs each year and more than a dozen other rides. They don’t stop at biker friendly bars.  In case anyone wants to get a little more creative with their poker runs consider using roadside attractions, scenic overlooks, convenience stores, filing stations, museums, historical monuments, public rest stops and motorcycle dealers for stops.  We've used them all and no one ever said "No."  They welcome us just like a biker friendly bar would and are happy to have a flurry of bikes come through.

Then the apples to oranges comparison comes out where Mike notes that our parent company also publishes a dining magazine, Seattle DINING!, and in doing so we may be abetting drunk driving.  Our dining guide is focused on dining in and around Seattle.  The magazine is not aimed at the two wheel motorsports community in anyway.  And as Mike points out we do carry a cautionary statement in our happy hour directory about the unpleasantries of driving drunk including a link to Washington State's Traffic Commission's website where they outline all that all the goodies you get for a DUI like the straw lock and so on.  Are we doing our part to solve the problem?  Is QT just flat out not being a part of the solution?

Finally Mike wonders why we didn’t include Thunder Press in our article. It's not because we don't "have balls" as he states.  After going to half a dozen Puget Sound area Harley-Davidson dealers and independent cruiser shops doing the research for the article we never found a copy.

TM/Mar06

I never mix drinking and riding my motorcycle - not even a single beer. However, there are times I go out to a bar in my car. When I do that I would be interested in going to a bar that is "biker friendly". Being a biker doesn't necessarily mean you rode your motorcycle there. You can ride and not be a biker. Conversely, you can drive your car on occasion and still be a biker.

Also, I have stopped at bars when I've been out riding and bought some food and a pop. In fact, I do this frequently for various local Taco Thursdays.

I ride but personally I probably don't qualify as a "biker". However, I generally like people who are bikers. I don't see anything wrong with letting me know what bars I'd be likely to find bikers at. It seems like worthwhile information to me.

Dennis F. (SR! Subscriber)

We've heard a lot about the Soda Pop argument when it comes to the bars.  To find out the reality of that make your way to the next Taco Thursday near you, look around the room and count the number of pop cans versus the number of beers on the tables.  It takes about twice as many motor skills to operate a motorcycle so you're smart not to mix drinking and riding.


I applaud your position and I agree with you. I lost a couple of friends to drinking and riding and our sport seems risky enough without impairing our skills any more than cold and rain already do.

However, I think you have a losing battle on your hands. To many, riding a motorcycle is a symbol of their freedom and the macho, hard-riding, hard drinking lifestyle. Why else would there be such vociferous protests over the proposed Federal Helmet Law. It is obvious that one's head is the most vulnerable and least repairable part of our bodies, even with a helmet. I was in Hawaii over Xmas and was appalled to see the vast majority of riders without a helmet. Doubly so when most of these riders were renters and probably had marginal riding skills anyway.

Ian M., Seattle (SR! Subscriber)

According to a report published in Motorcycle Consumer News recently the numbers on fatalities coming out of Hawaii are stunning and you may have a point that it's not just the locals, but the tourists who are driving it.  However the sportbike segment, which would more likely be that of the locals since you can't normally rent a sportbike there, is a stunning number all in itself.


Yes, "Biker Friendly Bar" seems like an oxymoron. What's friendly about serving alcohol to motorcycle riders? Seems like a good way to reduce one's clientele.

In my naiveté, my first thought upon seeing such reference was that the bar in question helped make non-drinking acceptable for motorcyclists. You know, like not pressuring designated drivers to buy booze kind of thing. Pretty dopey on my part.

To me a guide to "Biker Friendly Establishments" would be helpful if the designation included stuff like;

- easy, safe, separate motorcycle parking - large booths or someplace to check or hang some gear - special meals or discounts for bikers

That kind of thing. But trying to attract bikers in order to serve alcohol is unconscionable in my opinion. There is one good thing about the guides though; it helps me know which places to avoid.

I appreciate Sound RIDER!'s position of not including such reference lists. Sometimes doing the right thing is tough. Hang in there.

JC W. (SR! Subscriber)

FYI - Cafe Veloce' offers a 10% discount to riders who stop in for a meal on their bikes.


GREAT article and "position statement" about "biker friendly bars" in Sound Rider. We agree with you 1000%. Keep up the good work!

Doug and Meg (SR! Subscribers)


How about a guide to pilot friendly bars? What kind of f@#$%ing idiot drinks alcohol and proceeds to ride a motorcycle? Maybe these alcohol related fatalities are part of Darwin's theory at work. I've been riding bikes for over thirty years and I've not once ridden after drinking.

Kenny S., Eastsound, WA (SR! Subscriber)


your a little to much on the left for me ......have you forgotten that there are some responsible people left in the world....I mean really?I have not had a drink in 15 years...but I love the people ,and I want to know where my kind hang out ...what a bunch of shit...I wont be at this site again...why dont you just give up on humanity.

Daniel R.


Thank you for not tip-toeing around the issue of "Biker Friendly Bars". I appreciated all the responses from your readers, and especially from Wardog the Hellbiker, Olympia (SR! Subscriber).

As other readers have pointed out, a biker friendly establishment does not have to serve liquor to be biker friendly. And, I just wish that those establishments that do serve liquor would be more responsible about it.

My husband was killed in a motorcycle accident due to alcohol just a few years ago, and I have had several friends who also lost their husbands due to alcohol related accidents. The establishment over-served him that day (as they still do others). The "biker friendly bar" should have been fined, or worse, but the local law enforcement chose to ignore the situation.

I treasure the friendships in the motorcycle world that have continued to help support me through an extremely difficult time, but many of them continue to drink heavily during rides. I don't drink at all when I am riding my motorcycle, and I worry about some of my friends but cannot bring myself to say anything - they would not listen, and I would likely lose a friend - but, those friends I rarely ride with anymore. There is enough to worry about road conditions and automobile drivers who say they cannot see you, rather than having to also worry about someone I am riding next to who has been drinking alcohol.

Some clubs I have been riding with over the last year do choose other places to visit, such as roadside attractions, scenic overlooks, museums, historical monuments, and motorcycle dealers and accessory vendors, etc. instead of the typical bar, and I enjoy the feeling of being comfortable on the road with them.

Regardless of a person's point of view, I am still grateful we have CHOICE. But, a rider (and a "biker friendly bar") should consider whether that choice could be damaging to friends, family and loved ones, let alone the rider himself.

Lyn G., A New Reader


This article was completely one-sided in terms of your interpretation of what a "biker friendly” establishment is. I got the feeling from reading this that, to Sound Rider, "biker-friendly” means it’s a 24-hour happy hour for bikers, and that establishments billing themselves at "biker-friendly” were encouraging riders to come in, get drunk, and ride off in the sunset (or the side of a truck, whichever comes first).

Of course, biker-friendly can also mean the establishment provides MC parking, or tolerates me parking my bike in a car spot or on the sidewalk (or wherever it fits). They tolerate me coming in wearing leathers, colors, carrying a helmet, possibly wet from the rain and covered with road grime, looking scruffy and haggard. They won’t treat me like a criminal, a penniless bum, or a blight on society, and they won’t ask me to leave because I’m leading a pack of other riders to get a bite to eat. In short, they know what it’s like to be a biker, and can deal with me as I am.

Finally, I was a bit confused when, after you were through trashing capitalism and the First Amendment, you back-pedaled a bit to say that we as readers and riders need to be responsible. Of course, I don’t think you did enough of this in your article. You also didn’t stress that the only way to keep the state government from enacting more liberty-stifling laws aimed at MC riders is to ride more responsibly and take on the task ourselves, as a subculture and "minority”, to make sure we don’t appear on the governor’s radar anymore.

The only thing about this article that didn’t disappoint me was the font selection.

Jon F., Seattle, WA (SR! Subscriber)

Arial 10 point.  The term "Biker Friendly" and Biker Friendly Bar" appear to have separate meanings in the vernacular according to our readers and most other pragmatics of the 21st Century.  The one we're discussing in this forum is the latter.  I believe Ian King of WRRA hit the nail on the head in his response at the top of this page - "when motorcycle media promotes a connection between alcohol and riding, we feed old stereotypes."


Here is a copy of my email to Chris Dalgaard, the (national) editor of Quick Throttle:

Chris,

What the hell were you thinking?

You publish a guide to "biker-friendly" bars. Brilliant. How many more dead riders do we need because not everyone is smart enough to keep drinking and riding as completely different activities?

I think we have met the enemy and he is us.

Jeff A., NH (SR! Subscriber)

The concept of "not everyone is smart enough" came up several times over the month.  Gets you thinking about each individual's cognitive development in the time line of evolution.  Are we actually all at the same point as some would like us to believe?  Probably not which is why we have laws in the first place.  Do we have laws about operating vehicles under the effects of alcohol to protect the operator themselves, or the four year old who steps out into the cross walk and gets nailed?


I believe it is rather along the lines of counter productive for the Motorcycle Safety Organizations to be Supporting and Assisting in Distribution of such Publications. I mean lets get real here, anyone with a brain can see this is sending a Mixed Message along the lines of Safety on the Road. Especially when we all know that the Only Entities that Benefit from this type of support are the Bar Owners and the Criminal Attorneys. Come on People lets Wake-Up.

Gretchen K.


Very early on bikers and bars have been linked; they just seem to go together in the traditional biker mystic. I for one have no objection to the advertising of any adult activity where free choice is involved. Where else are we to congregate and meet each other in the evening for a good time? Some how "biker friendly coffee shop” doesn’t have the same ring to it. We all know that alcohol impairs ones senses and that driving anything, especially a bike, after drinking more than one drink is foolhardy and illegal. And the sad truth is that it is the biker himself that is most at risk and the one most likely to be killed in any accident. May be that the laws of natural selection are at work here. The "LAW” is involved way to much in our life’s now what with the already overly restrictive drinking and driving laws, helmet laws, and the "Patriot Act”. Everyone wants to tell us how to live every aspect of our lives. Something’s we have to take responsibility for our self’s and most of us can and would. The rest should pay the price AFTER they do something wrong but not before.

Bob K . (SR! Subscriber)

Like AFTER they take out a pedestrian or bicyclist when they hit the road?


I, personally don’t drink but there is a need for maybe a listing of biker friendly establishments that welcome our dining out $$$. Our HOG chapter has sought out these establishments and I would be willing to share these with you when I have some more time in the very near future as the riding season is near.

Will M. (SR! Subscriber)


Get serious, Magazines don't cause people to drink and ride. If the rider is a drinker he is going to drink.

Scott L.

But do magazines and books that print editorial cautioning against drinking and riding cause a rider not to drink and ride? Dick P. below seems to think so.


That's a very sane article you've written on "biker bars."

The alcohol connected injury and fatality statistics for two wheelers are horrendous. I hope your piece gets wide distribution. Promoting alcohol sales to motorcycle or scooter riders seems like a bad idea on the face of it. After reading David Hough's two books I made my own decision about not mixing riding and drinking—hard for me frankly, because I do like a glass or two of a good Italian red wine. The bars probably aren't the places where it would be productive to push for change. This is another case where people have to smarten up themselves. Like cigarettes, eating habits, and a lot of other things. A very hard sell, but I think we already do have too much "sensible and good-for-you" legislation shoved down our throats. However, stuff like you've done here, which creates awareness and makes people think, even a little bit, are a good thing. Thanks.

Dick P. (SR! Subscriber)


I think that you blasting magazines like QT for listing biker friendly establishments in their biker magazine is absolutely the most irresponsible thing I have ever heard of. I notice you aren’t taking aim at any cigarette ads which lung cancer kills more every year, nor are you taking aim at any brake shops because if they don’t fix the brakes right then there could be an accident, the companies that make the alcohol or any other of the tons of businesses that are geared towards bikers. You obviously do not have a very high opinion of bikers and their ability to think and make decisions for themselves. These people are adults and while drinking and driving is wrong and is in no way promoted in any of these magazines it is NOT the magazines that put the drink in their hands. It is nice to know that when my husband and I go out for a ride we know because of these wonderful magazines where we can stop and be welcomed at without being treated like gangsters or second class citizens!!!!!! I am offended that people like you can smear honest hard working people just because you want to but as you stated there is the 1st amendment right for even people like you to print their trash and the honest hardworking journalists that you are bashing also have the right to SUE you and I hope like hell that they do!!!!!

You might try giving bikers who are adults a little more credit! In my experience they are responsible enough to not want to total the bike that they have spent $1000’s of dollars on or killing themselves. Another point that you not so eloquently missed was why advertise for restaurants at all because almost all of them serve some kind of alcohol and many more cars a year kill people than motorcycles kill people.

Do a little more research next time before you start bashing people and magazines that you know nothing about if you had bothered to try and find out anything about these people you would know that they will be the first ones to tell anyone not to drink and drive. How much do you make a year for advertising?

Janet F.


Good for you! Every time I ride by a bar with a bunch of bikes parked out from it sends a shiver down my back. I'm 62 and have been riding since I was 14. Shortly after turning 21 I got my first real bike, a Triumph TR-6SC 650cc. Within two months I learned that if I were drinking, I could not control my bike with the precicsion I desired to have. So... I didn't quit drinking, I didn't quit riding, I just didn't mix the two activities. I can count several friends who didn't make the same decision who also didn't make 30.

Chuck B. (SR! Subscriber)


There is no such thing as a biker friendly bar if that bar allows a biker to to drink enough alcohol to even come close to the legal limit. As far as I'm concerned that is premeditated murder for profit.

As a former E.M.T. for Washington state I have seen the aftermath of far too many alcohol assisted acts of vehicular homicide. And the bikers who were involved in these crashes and lived had flesh ground away to the bone when they lost control of their bikes and slid to a stop on the road or the ditch. Most of them had on denim jeans and t-shirts. They sure looked cool though, drunkenly screaming and covered in blood as we loaded them into the meat wagon to transport them to the beginning of years of painful reconstructive surgery and skin grafts. And to make matters worse some of them killed and maimed their passenger who had foolishly trusted their drunken ass.

Real bikers don't get drunk and race on a sanctioned track in a far less dangerous setting than a public road ever thought of being. Anyone who says that a drink or two helps them ride a little looser or more relaxed shouldn't even own a motorcycle if they need liquid courage to "relax" them.

As far as I am concerned anyone who goes to a bar, gets inebriated and then gets behind the wheel of a cage or straddles the seat of a bike should lose their license for five years. And if they are the cause of a wreck that kills someone they should be charged with premeditated murder because they CHOSE to drink and get drunk.

Real bikers don't need alcohol to have fun, they need asphalt and dirt and all of the skills they possess to ride thousands of miles a year accident free. One misjudgment and you can wind up dead or worse.

As a Viet-Nam Force-recon Marine Corps veteran I never went into the boonies drunk or stoned and that wasn't that much more dangerous than riding around on the highways with these cell phoning, junk food eating, latte sipping, cold beverage swilling, over stressed, yelling at the kids, c-d changing, knee driving ninnies necking with their sweetie biker killing cager-ators.

You need all your wits and perfect reactions out there, not the after-effects of some bars greedy profit motive. All they want is your money at any cost to you.

Biker friendly my ass!!!!

Wardog the Hellbiker, Olympia (SR! Subscriber)


If you really ride then you know that pulling up to a bar or restaurant you have never been in can cause some hesitation. From not knowing if the patrons welcome the biker type, to the staff not wanting our kind hanging around. That is the reason why publications like quickthrottle and others put these biker friendly establishment in their mags. Sure we all like the money of our advertisers but not one magazine out there thinks three grand is worth someone's life. I go to biker friendly bars and guess what, I choose not to drink because their is alot of idiots out driving their cages not paying attention to people on bikes and drinking causes us to lose focus and one moment of misjudgment means my 14,000 ride is trashed and I'm going to the hospital or the morgue. But here lies the true issue, you want the government to control our riding lives, put airbags on the handlebars and blow in a breath analyzer before the bike will start. Or is it you want to hurt the other publications the ones you compete with. know the ones that are beating you in circulation. So you make up some scandalous headline like biker friendly bars equals all bikers drink and drive, and we all have no judgment skills. That's like saying pencils equals bad grammar. Look at the facts for the last five years the motorcycle industry has hit all time records in sales and that means more bikes on the roads which mathematically means more chances of people making poor judgment calls both on the bike and their cars, also it means more people that have no motorcycle safety training or experience on the road with motorcycles that are bigger and alot faster than bikes of the past. Look at the simple fact that most American built bikes range in price from 14,000 to 28,000 dollars, now with this price most youngmen that might have poor judgment can not afford such a luxury item, so is it the older generation that has the money and lots of life experience making poor calls, It does not matter. It comes down to individuals making bad decisions and committing a crime, drinking and driving which it should not matter if they are on a bike, in a car or riding a moped. Wrong is wrong and no advertisement in a magazine, on the television or on a billboard should ever make you think it could be right. But that's the difference between someone like me and you. I can see that it's the person that is responsible for their actions and you want to blame good journalist and magazines for peoples misjudgments, even blame those magazines for your jealousy and envy that they can have successful, truthful, professional publication without trying to sensationalize and blur the facts. Soundrider, now that's a oxymoron

ML Steve


To me any body that Drink's and rides is an IDEATE. A friend of mine was drinking and riding 40 years ago and to this day has one leg that dose not work right he was just lucky he just as well been dead. I think it is very wrong for a magazine to have to rely on this sort of advertisement to keep going.

Garry C. AMA Field Rep. # 652


I agree as to drinking and riding. Don't agree with drinking and driving a "cage" either. However, I do like to know restaurants that are biker friendly. While most are fairly accommodating, some go out of their way to have extra space to put helmets and gear. and don't look down their noses at you. It is especially important when riding in a group. And there is nothing to say that one has to drink alcohol. Most bars offer soft drinks, coffee, and other non-alcoholic drinks. We sometimes go back to bars that are "biker friendly" with our cars or trucks and with a designated driver.

So, I don't think it is a bad thing to let bars advertise. Maybe, it would be better for them to advertise a safe ride home, or if they are close to a motel or campground.

For both bars and restaurants, I wish there were a better way for "organized rides" to have the event advertise places that are close or along the way, and to alert the restaurants to the fact many riders will be coming through and gear up with extra staff and food. There is nothing worse than to be on a ride and stop to eat and have to wait a long time to get seated and/or served.

Freight Woman (SR! Subscriber)


It's nice you asked for an opinion on this subject. We all know alcohol and riding do not mix however some people think a little alcohol and riding is fine. I don't agree, anything that detracts for complete reactions time and focus does not mix with riding. I think Sound Rider not having a list of biker friendly bar is a very responsible position to take. Thanks for promoting safe image.

S. Cook


I feel strongly that the best way to honor a good day's ride is AFTER putting your baby away for the day, THEN get the jug out and salute the ride. I read one time all the skills needed on a motorcycle vs. a car and it was amazing. I was appalled to see a flyer last summer about a Bar hop fund raiser for a woman's family who was killed by a drunk driver! Swear to God. Ride safe.

T. Montgomery


I believe you are giving the Biker friendly bars a bad rap! I have been a endorsed bike rider for 36 years, I have been to restaurants that flat told us to leave because they didn't like OUR KIND! At the time I was on a Gold Wing! Just because you stop at a bar,doesn't mean your their to slop up all the brew you can and then hit the road! Bars are labeled Biker Friendly for good reasons! 1. Their is always a place to park your bike close to the door so you can keep an eye on it, 2. A bar is almost never crowded so you can get a seat at a table and have room to hang all your gear and helmet. 3. By the time you stop, your also ready to use the can! some times real bad!! A bar has OPEN bathrooms you can get into right away! 4. A bar tender is always happy to see you and will most often as not, give you a great hot cup of Joe! In a nut shell, Bars are very friendly to bikers! Its convenient a lot cheaper, And just because your Harley is parked out side a bar, Doesn't mean your soaking up suds!

Diggs

In a decade of motorcycling through the Northwest I've never been treated with any less respect at a restaurant because I walked in the door with my gear on.


As a rider of 29 years, I had the luck to survive my days of riding after a "few" beverages. Notice that I said luck, not skill. Yes, I was one of those long haired wild men running around in the late 70s and 80s. In the biker lifestyle of those and earlier days, virtually all events were lubricated by the generous supply of beer and other consumables. No excuses, it was simply a fact of life. Eventually, after years of partaking, I set down the stein and stepped away from the bar. No issues, just wasn't fun anymore. But I carry the scars to show for my occasional poor decision-making. But, unlike your editorial stance, I am not going to place the blame on the establishments that serve alcohol. Our nation has for years made a point of putting the responsibility for a persons actions ANYWHERE except where it belongs; on the individual performing the action. Be it booze, overeating, drugs, or what have you. You can no more blame a restaurant or tavern for advertising their wares than you can fault a hardware store for advertising shovels and lawnmowers. We are adults and need to quit blaming everyone else for our problems. Am I sorry when a fellow rider drinks too much and rides his bike? I feel disappointed that they made the wrong decision, but it WAS their decision and they are responsible for the consequences. Novel idea, huh? Anyway, enough ranting, You have an excellent e-zine. Keep it up!

Ed B.


and finally - David Hough, riding skills with Motorcycle Consumer News and a regular contributor to SR! sums it up...

If we were discussing something that hadn't happened yet, we could make the argument that "we're all adults and we're capable of riding our motorcycles without any interference from the government."

But motorcycling has already happened, and we're seeing the numbers. The statistics seem to indicate that a whole bunch of "adult" ex-riders are now pushing up daisies as a result of attempting to ride motorcycles on public roads while under the influence. This isn't just hearsay or personal opinion--there are plenty of professionals taking measurements after the crash, including blood alcohol levels. So, when we say that alcohol is heavily involved in fatal motorcycle accidents, that's not a guess. We're not just sucking wind about this: a large percentage of fatal motorcycle accidents involved a rider who had been drinking. Some folks, grasping at straws, might suggest that the WA numbers have yet to be released by the feds in the Fatal Accident Reporting System. Horse pucky! We've got the WA numbers right now, and they point fingers in specific directions for WA riders. It's a serious issue.

Throughout the comments on "Biker Bars", there are those who seem to believe that drinking/riding is a personal issue, not a state issue. "We're adults, not children, and we're able to control ourselves." But the statistics seem to hint that there are way too many motorcyclists who do not seem to comprehend the link between a beer or two and the loss of judgment that leads to a fatal crash. And, since motorcyclists are proving day-by-day that we don't seem to be able to separate drinking and riding voluntarily, why should we expect government to NOT step in and attempt to do something to stem the carnage?

Some riders make the argument that it's their body, and if they crash its no one's business except their own. That might be true if the rider were heading off across the Sahara or the Gobi, but here in the US of A, everything you do affects someone else. No, we can't just allow someone to crash, die, and rot by the side of the road. Here in the US of A, someone must go out and make reports, and scrape up the pieces and haul everything away. And that costs the rest of us for emergency services and law enforcement. If you have a job, a family, financial obligations, dying affects a whole bunch of people, both socially and monetarily. If you can no longer support your dependents, the state will have to step in to do your job for you, using public money. And even if you are totally independent and insured, you're involvement in a crash affects the statistics upon which government acts, the insurance rates of your fellow motorcyclists, and the future costs of purchasing motorcycles and products. What's more, it's easy to take someone else out while you're killing yourself. If you need photos of a motorcycle imbedded in the front of an automobile, killing the rider and both occupants of the car, it's available.

The point is, you can't do something stupid and dangerous without affecting the rest of us. We all have a stake in what happens to any motorcyclist. We all get tarred with the same brush. So, the rest of us are justified in encouraging you avoid doing something stupid and dangerous, which is exactly what soundrider.com has been doing here.

I get a chuckle over those who say, "you can go to a bar and not drink', or "I appreciate the 'biker friendly' attitude I can't get at other establishments." Sure, you can go to a bar and not drink, but let's not kid ourselves that bars are only for socializing and drinking is not required. If bars don't sell booze, they won't stay in business. Soft drinks won't pay the bills. If the biker rags would list "motorcyclist-friendly businesses", this flak would never have been shot skyward. But the listings are not for "motorcyclist-friendly businesses", are they? They are for biker friendly bars, where drinking alcoholic beverages is a major point.

There is still the possibility that motorcyclists will wake up to this problem and apply social pressure to separate bikes and booze. You might want to get on that bandwagon, because the alternative is for government to step in and do something about the problem, and government often goes overboard once it jumps into the situation.

I'm offering these observations after 41 years of motorcycling. That's not bragging about my history and supposed wisdom, but rather a reference to how old I am and therefore how few years of motorcycling I have left. Motorcycling will outlast my life, even if I don't manage to do something stupid. But if you intend to be riding for another 10 or 20 or 30 years, you really ought to stand up and do something serious about the bikes/booze situation.

David Hough (SR! Subscriber)

 


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