From The Hip

From Minnesota Monthly July 2001
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From The Hip

Victor Wanchena

We ride motorcycles because they are fun. Whether it's a mellow cruise through rolling scenery, a spirited ride on a twisty section of road or a multi-day cross-country trip, we do it on motorcycles because it is fun and we enjoy it. So if you're like me it's rare if ever that you stop to ponder the social implications of riding a motorycle. Social implications? That's right, it may seem a little silly but the simple act of riding a motorcycle does have repercussions in society in society and it's my contention that they are positive repercussions. Motorcycling in modern society is a social good.

Before I lose too many of you with this rambling, let me explain. When you ride a motorcycle you have an effect on the world around you. The majority of these effects are good. I couldn't think of any negative effects to motorcycling provided they are ridden in a responsible fashion. Since these effects on society are positive, motorcycling must be a social good.

Here are a few ways I believe that motorcycling has a positive impact on society in general. First, motorcycles put less of a strain on the traffic infrastructure in several ways. A motorcycle takes up less space on a road than a car, thus allowing a greater number of vehicles to use the same amount of road. Also motorcycles require far less space to park than cars. You can fit 10 motorcycles into the space used to park two average sized cars. The lighter weight of motorcycles means these put far less strain on the road surface lessening the need for maintenance. These issues might not have be as important as they are but the condition of local roads has worsened as of late and it literally seems to take an act of congress to build a new stretch of road.

Second, motorcycles make efficient use of the fuel they us. In spite of cars getting better mileage compared with yesteryears the average motorcycle still get at least 10 mpg better fuel economy than your average car. A motorcycle does this while still offering a nice level of performance. The bottom-rung bikes of today still offer a level of performance that will beat 90% of the cars on the market. This is what I call the "most bang for the buck" ratio. You can ride in a more spirited fashion than any sports car while not spending much of anything on fuel. This means that you'll have more money left to buy things like accessories for your bike or maybe even another bike. All that spending will help drive the economy. More social good.

Lastly, since motorcycles are so darn fun to ride, thus you are happier when done riding. If the world needs only one thing my claim would be that a few more people with smiles on their faces would do the trick. A little whimsical but most definitely a social good.

So, what's with the sociology lesson? Well, this is just my roundabout way of reminding everyone that the annual Ride to Work Day. On the third Wednesday of July (the 18th this year) you are strongly encouraged to ride to work. The hope is that the day might help spur people to view motorcycles as a legitimate form of daily transportation. The more riders on the road the more your pleas for things like motorcycle-only parking will be heard. Ride to Work Day is the brainchild of Minnesota's own Andy Goldfine of Ride to Work and the Duluth based Rider Wearhouse. You can get information about Ride to Work Day and motorcycling issues at

So this month ride fast, take chances and do it on your way to work the 18th.