Over the weekend, WKTV reported that 47 year old Kirsty Sutherland from Old Forge died at Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse.
Sutherland was riding her motorcycle late last week on Rt. 28 “when she struck a log and was thrown from the machine.”
“Sutherland was the owner of Ozzie’s Café in Old Forge,” according to the report. “Investigators believe she was headed in to work at the time of the crash.”
We’ve debate and wrangled over motorized recreation a bunch here on the In Box, but I want to say more bluntly what I’ve only nudged at in the past: Motorcycles are dumb. And deadly.
I know this is pointless. If you’ve caught the biker bug, the facts I’m about to lay out will sound like Swahili. But let me take a crack at it anyway.
Last year, roughly 4,500 people died on motorcycles across the US. That means 12% of all road deaths in the country involve men and women on bikes, even though motorcycles make up only about 2% of the vehicles on the road.
Let me say it another way. According to the latest available statistics, bikers are “35 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in a crash in 2006, per vehicle mile traveled, and 8 times more likely to be injured.”
This from the Centers for Disease Control;
In 2008, motor vehicle crash-related deaths involving cars and light trucks reached an all-time low in the United States.
At the same time, however, motorcyclist deaths reached an all-time high, more than doubling between 1999 and 2008.
The reasons are pretty simple. On a bike, you have no protection. None, zero. Hit an obstacle in your car, and you’re literally cocooned in protective devices, safety glass, and padded steel.
Tumble from a motorbike and it’s just you and raw physics. And in the real world — not the fantasy land of Easy Rider or Sons of Anarchy — physics always wins.
It’s also a fact that the skill and physical conditioning required to manage a heavy, modern bike is far greater than most people grasp until it’s too late.
I suspect that the vast, overwhelming majority of the motorcycle craze is the product of good old fashioned marketing. The motorcycle industry convinces middle-aged Boomers and young men that there’s romance out there on the open road. Even the danger is sort of sexy.
It’s a sickening con. It’s a racket.
So here’s my (quixotic, hopeless) suggestion. Before you get on your bike next time — or before you plunk down thousands of dollars for a new machine — throw an egg or a tomato as hard as you can against the floor.
Unless you’re a minor league pitcher, the velocity of that impact is actually less than the speed you’ll be hitting on the highway. Think about that. Put yourself in the place of that egg. Imagine those split-seconds, the massive torque of motorcycle, the concrete flying at you.
Better yet, go to Google images and search for “motorcycle accidents.” Look closely at those photographs. Be honest with yourself about what you’re doing.
If those results look romantic to you, if you still think it’s a good idea to get out there and tango with the tractor trailers and the road debris and the deer and the rain slick highways, then I say go for it.
Knock yourself out Literally.