Is NJ just too dangerous for motorcycles? (Opinion)
The first thing you need to know is this in no way is an attack on those who ride motorcycles. It’s actually quite the opposite.
The second thing you need to know in full disclosure: I've never ridden a motorcycle and don’t have any desire to. But I have great respect for the free spirits who do.
But is New Jersey not the place to do it?
A tragedy occurred in Toms River when a young man was learning to ride a motorcycle in the parking lot of Ocean County Power Sports. Something went wrong and he went over a curb and was thrown out onto Route 37 and struck and killed by a passing car. It appears at present it was just an all-around bad timing with no one really to blame.
But it made me think about all the motorcycle tragedies in the state of New Jersey when there is someone to blame. And it seems to me that someone is usually not the one on the bike.
If you ever heard the expression "loud pipes save lives" then maybe you already know the meaning behind it. Too often drivers of automobiles do not notice motorcycles until it’s too late. The call for loud pipes is a safety measure to make them more apparent to drivers with their heads in the clouds.
The fact that motorcycles can be dangerous is not an indictment on bikers but rather on the rest of us.
I have honestly never understood how drivers so often aren’t seeing motorcycles. I can’t recall a single time I even had a close call noticing one at the last second. If you’re doing your job as a driver and keeping your mind and eyes on the road there should never be an issue. The fact that motorcycles can be dangerous is not an indictment on bikers but rather on the rest of us.
I’ve seen it happen several times right before my eyes. The one I remember most is driving behind a guy on a motorcycle in the right lane on St. Georges Avenue through Linden. A guy in a car who did not have the right of way was waiting to make a left turn out of the plaza where Planet Fitness is now. I watched in horror as the dope pulled right out in front of an oncoming motorcycle that had no chance to avoid it. His bike slammed into the fender and he was ejected over the guy's hood onto the road. Luckily in that case he would live to tell about it.
Not as lucky was a sad story that I remember from my teenage years. An acquaintance in high school had an older brother who died in a motorcycle crash on that very same road in a different town. If memory serves, it was a van that turned directly into his path and killed Sean instantly from a head injury even though he was wearing a helmet.
There’s also the problem in New Jersey of congestion. We have some of the longest commutes and the most crowded roads in the nation. It’s not a good recipe to avoid disaster.
Most bikers are responsible and not the kind of young guys you’ll see on crotch rockets splitting lanes at 110 mph. To be honest with the gas crisis we are in the middle of we’d all be better off if we rode a motorcycle.
If you’re going to do it, do what my broadcast partner Bill Doyle did when he first rode. Take a motorcycle safety course. It pays off. And much of it is defensive technique because again, in my opinion, that’s the biggest problem motorcyclists have. The problem is us, not them. Bikers need to have a motorcycle endorsement on their driver's license. Maybe the rest of us need a motorcycle awareness endorsement.
Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Jeff Deminski only.
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