I know, I know. This is one of those perennial threads that I keep foisting on In Box readers. I keep dragging it out because the news reports — scattered across the region over weeks and months — don’t convey the full, deadly weight of this story.
All summer long, every summer, people die or are gravely injured on motorcycles in the North Country, a steady drumbeat of life-changing tragedy. Here’s a quick survey from just the last few weeks:
In mid-July, a Pennsylvania man was critically injured in a motorcycle crash in the Adirondack town of Wilmington. About the same time, a Glens Falls man was seriously injured after being thrown from his Harley.
Another Glens Falls man was hospitalized a few days later after losing control and running his motorcycle off the road.
A Chazy woman was killed in late July after she and her husband were broadsided on their Harly by a pick-up truck.
Sometimes these accidents take on a flavor of the absurd. Last month, a Canadian couple crashed their three-wheeled motorcycle into a black bear while riding near Tupper Lake. This from the Adirondack Daily Enterprise.
State troopers tell the Post-Star of Glens Falls that 69-year-old Robert MacIntyre of Orangeville, Ontario, was traveling on state Route 30 in the town of Tupper Lake near the line between Hamilton and Franklin counties when he struck the bear Thursday afternoon.
MacIntyre was able to slow down before striking the bear on its side. He and his passenger, 63-year-old Mary DeVries, were both thrown from the vehicle.
But really, there’s nothing funny about this. Climbing on big road cycles is one of those things we Americans do because we’ve been told it’s romantic, or carefree, or family-friendly.
It’s especially popular among aging baby boomers, who are often physically incapable of managing these big machines.
Too often, people take up the hobby without assessing the risks, all too often the consequences are disastrous.
Over the weekend, two Fort Drum soldiers were killed in New Hampshire on their motorcycles, while allegedly playing cat and mouse with police. (Motorcycle fatalities have emerged as a serious concern for the US military.)
I wonder if it’s not time to consider additional steps to make this hobby safer. How about mandatory rider training courses — similar to hunter safety programs — that emphasize the incredible risks that cyclists take every time they climb on a machine?
Or how about a warning label on every new motorcycle that reads something like this (taken from the MassGeneral Hospital for Children website):
While five percent of all highway fatalities involve a motorcycle, only two percent of all registered vehicles are motorcycles. In a crash, motorcycles offer no protection. There is nothing between the driver and the crash. No door. No hood. No trunk. No engine. Certainly no airbag.
About twenty percent of all reported automobile accidents involve injury or death; that figure is eighty percent for motorcycle crashes. When calculated per mile traveled, the risk of dying in a motorcycle crash is sixteen times that of dying in a car crash.
What do you think? Motorcycle tourism is a huge business in our region. Can we make it safer?