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Biker Friendly Bars: The Big Oxymoron

Do we really need directories?

"In Washington State during 2004 72 motorcyclists were killed in fatal accidents.  Fatalities have almost doubled over the last four years.  More than 60% of all single vehicle motorcycle crashes involved impairment of the motorcycle operator.  Nationally, the percentage of motorcycle operators involved in fatal motorcycle crashes with blood alcohol levels above the legal limit was higher than any other type of driver.”

Washington Department of Licensing
2005 Study on Motorcycle Crashes and Fatalities

Down in Olympia number crunching continues on the climbing rate of motorcycle fatalities.  At last count the 2005 number exceeded the previous year and the Governor has requested the Department of Licensing to dig in and see what can be done to get the number down.

Meanwhile (thump) another round of local cruiser lifestyle magazines hits the floors of dealers, each loaded with a guide to ‘Biker Friendly Bars.’

The term itself, ‘Biker Friendly Bars’ sounds like an oxymoron to any pragmatic rider.  For many the idea of mixing alcohol with motorcycling doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense.  We don’t need to go get drunk and fall off our motorcycle to prove to ourselves this is a bad idea.  The state and national figures already prove that because others riders have already done it enough, getting the number to where it is today.

Why would you suppose that some local and national publications continue to promote ‘Biker Friendly Bars’ ?

Well, there’s money in it.  For $50 any bar or restaurant can get listed in Quick Throttle’s ‘Biker Friendly Bars & Restaurants’ directory.  In the January 2006 issue 66 establishments were listed.  That would mean that Quick Throttle got a quick injection of $3,300 a year.  Not a lot, but apparently enough to maintain the directory.

Even the new kid on the block runs a listing.  You can find a similar directory in the Washington state online version of the Biker Information Guide under "Biker Bars & Restaurants.”  The front cover of its first quarter 2006 print version touted such listings as well.

During the 2005 International Motorcycle Show, Mad Maps out of San Francisco rolled into Seattle and scattered free maps across the event that featured a guide to ‘Roadhouses’ denoting ‘drinks’ with a martini glass icon next to all roadhouses that fit the qualification.

Above:  Five entities including Washington Road Riders Association and The Washington Motorcycle Safety Program have teamed together to distribute this flyer at various motorcycle events and shops during 2006

The Sound RIDER! position

Since 1999 Sound RIDER! has published with the intent to enrich a rider's experience. Ride ideas, safety and riding skills articles and tips & tricks columns have been geared toward creating a more positive experience for the rider. Sound RIDER! has never, and never will, publish a directory to Biker Friendly Bars & Restaurants. We think it’s a good idea not to mix alcohol and motorcycles.  We encourage our readers to drink responsibly and ride safely.

It wouldn’t be America if all these publishers didn’t have the choice to do whatever they want to with their magazines.  But is it the responsible thing to promote ‘Biker Friendly Bars’ within their pages when the number of alcohol related fatalities in the state is on the rise?  Is it responsible for sponsors to prop up these publications with advertising dollars so the publishers can provide these directories to riders and point them in the direction of the nearest ‘Biker Friendly Bar?’  The answers to these questions lie within yourself.  You can decide what to read, and what not to read; who to support, and who to ignore.   Your decision can make a difference in whether the fatality numbers go up or go down.

Sound RIDER!/Winter 2006


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