Rights, Society, and Social Good
Rick Gray wrote:
I read your column. (Daily Rider #4) I agree with the sentiment expressed therein, but I'm not sure that the call for "more than equal rights" is not a counterproductive approach. Do disabled individuals ask for more than equal rights? Do trucks that require larger parking areas at rest stops ask for more than equal rights? To the contrary, in both examples, as developed in your article, the law and society merely recognize the fact that differences in people and vehicles require different accommodations. In both of these examples the difference requires those not affected to make the accommodations for the good of those affected.
On the other hand, using your rationale, motorcyclists are positively effecting those around us and the accommodations provided to us actually benefit nonriders and society as a whole. By allowing us different rights, we actually enhance the condition of others. So rather than "more than equal rights" for motorcyclists, maybe we should be promoting "the permitting the use of motorcyclists for the benefit of those who do and do not ride." Same thing, different approach. Thereby we provide a positive social good for all. What do you think?

Hi Rick,
Thanks for your message and for your comments about the Daily Rider #4 editorial. What's at the center of the editorial is the old idea about how best defense is a good offense. The Ride to Work program is pro-active. There are other excellent re-active motorcycle support organizations. Both kinds of groups are needed.
Trucks (as a class of vehicles) and disabled individuals both receive 'more than equal rights'. They are specifically accommodated and subsidized because society chooses to do so. Unqualified individuals occasionally steal some of the additional rights. Parking illegally in a truck loading or handicap zone is a common example.
Your idea: "By allowing us different rights, we actually enhance the condition of others." is at the center of all affirmative action laws and programs. It is the key message of the Daily Rider editorial. If Ride to Work Day accomplishes only one thing, it will be to gradually direct some of the public's and motorcycling community's awareness toward this important idea. Riding is fun, of course. But it is also a true social good...it's the exact opposite of a 'social burden'.
Sometimes new ideas seem nuts because they are so far outside of the mainstream. Then something happens and suddenly people just 'get' it. A light bulb goes off or something. Our world continues to shrink because of population growth and continuously advancing technology. One result of these two macro-trends is that more and more people will begin to see motorcycling as having an increasing value to all of humanity...in both technological and social realms.

Rick Gray follows up:
I agree with the �What's at the center of the editorial is the old idea about how best defense is a good offense.� thesis completely, but I believe that the approach will sell to motorcyclist�s but not the general public. For example, "Helmet Laws Suck" expresses the indignation that some bikers feel about those laws. On the other hand, non-motorcyclists read "Helmets Suck" or "Laws Suck" when they see that slogan. Therefore, though it might help to recruit, it is politically counterproductive.�Similarly, your request for "More than equal rights" will strike a responsive chord with motorcyclists, but it will be not be received positively by the majority of the body politic. So my sug
gesting was to keep the message, just put more of a majoritrian (if there is such a word) tag on it. This can be done by exactly the same logic, but with a tag of mutual societal benefit in lieu of a tag for special treatment.

Hi Rick,
Special treatments are precisely what provides mutual societal benefits. Where roads have high traffic there are usually turn lanes at intersections and passing lanes on steeper grades. Both are perfect examples of special treatments for some road users which benefit everyone. Everyone pays extra for those special road accommodations, including individuals who are not turning, or who don�t own more powerful vehicles.
The costs of any special accommodations for motorcycles are incredibly small and are more than in proportion to the benefits that accrue to everyone, though this will be difficult to prove to everyone�s satisfaction. Transportation riders already know that encouraging this type of motorcycling is a fantastic bargain for society. On Ride to Work Day we let others know.
The truth about the societal value of increased transportation riding has little to do with anyone�s politics. Our helmet choice laws probably do. Helmet issues and transportation advocacy are different kinds of things. One�s a civil liberties issue and the other as an affirmitive action campaign. There are numerous underlying reasons why each is what it is. Road users may not feel strongly about motorcycle helmet laws, but they are more likely to have opinions about urban congestion, lane splitting, loud mufflers, riding behaviors, law enforcement practices, and various other things that involve how motorcycling directly affects them.

Rob Harrison wrote:
Hello Andy,
First, I have to say, keep up the good work! We just returned from a three-week motorcyle honeymoon in Italy, France and Switzerland, where motorcycles _are_ a form of transportation. In other words, motorcycling paradise! It is incredibly frustrating to come back to Seattle, with its famous tranportation problems, after having seen the ingenious solutions brought to bear in Florence and Milan. (I'd suggest riding with the scooters in Florence as a manly alternative to running with the bulls in Paloma...)

But I do have a quibble.In Ride To Work #4, you wrote: "the current EPA motorcycle standards are 5 gr/km for Hydrocarbons (HC) compared to about 0.25 gr/km HC plus Oxides of Nitrogen (Nox) for autos... Motorcycle engines are generally a lot smaller than auto and light truck engines, perhaps an average size of 700cc versus 3700cc, so they produce less exhaust volume. So although motorcycle exhaust is typically 'dirtier' than car exhaust, there is a lot less of it."

As an architect with a practice based on environmentally friendly design--and an avid motorcyclist and daily motorcycle commuter--I really _want_ what you say here to be true! But the EPA emissions standards are "grams per kilometer," (per vehicle) not "grams per kilometer per cubic centimeter." If I understand correctly, based on the statistics you quote here, the average bike actually pollutes _20 times_ as much per vehicle mile traveled as the average car. (And are these figures before or after owner modifications like aftermarket exhaust and rejetting?) BMW and Honda, at least, have models with catalytic converters...and Aprilia has the DiTech scooters.... I just wish the motorcycle manufacturers would put as much emphasis on matching automobile emissions as they do on increasing horsepower.
Rob Harrison

Hi Rob,
Thanks for your message. You are correct about the EPA standards being parts per mile, and that I did not write about this correctly. The emissions standards that are applied to motorcycle are fair and constent with their current individ-ual and aggregate emissions impact. Although motorcycles typically produce much less exhaust volume per mile than vehicles with larger engines, what most cycles emit is dirtier than any currently compliant automobile. But it may not be that much worse than the fleet average all of the vehicles currently in use (?).

Performance exhaust-and-intake modified engines do usually produce more emissions than standard vehicles. This particular form of non-compliance involves all types of modified road vehicles. Because motorcycle engines are generally smaller in size than the modified engines in slammed sports cars or souped up trucks, they're probably less bad (in general) than typical larger displacement performance modified engines. When regulations for modified vehicles are implimented, I hope that they will be just as fairly designed as the current regulations affecting vehicle manufacturers and will reflect the many enviormental and social advantages that inhere in lighweight vehicles like motorcycles.

I appreciate your support and encouragement for Ride to Work Day and apol-ogize for any problems that my error caused you. Congratulatons on your recent marrage. Andy

Ride Free Or Die
Kevin Beamon
Subject: Daily Rider #4 Editorial
I must say that the Daily Rider #4 is the first issue I have received. And the editorial "More than Equal Rights" was the first article I read. But I also must stress one thing: That article is the biggest load of garbage I have read in a very long time. Riding a motorcycle is about freedom and independence. It is not about segregating motorcycles out as yet one more needy class of overly selfish individuals. We do NOT need greater rights than everyone else, we need to have the same rights guaranteed and enforced. We do NOT need special parking places - you should get off your lazy backside and thank GOD every time you can ride your bike and then walk to the front door of your favorite store! Lane splitting is a stupid and usually unnecessary act which only heightens the general public's disdain of our chosen form of transportation. I can and will take care of my own riding gear. I live in Arizona, arguably the hottest place in the nation. I do not want to force a business owner to spend non-productive dollars on covered parking for me just so I wont burn my precious tail. NO! I do NOT want special favors, special treatment or special anything. I want to be a responsible member of society, not a dependent, weasely, sub-culture always whining that I want to be treated differently because I chose to ride a motorcycle.

I want to live free and ride free. Please do not try to get anything but my existing, inalienable rights enforced.
Kevin Beamon

Hi Kevin,
Thanks for your message and comments. Responsible members of society are those who advocate changes that they believe will make society better for everyone. One persons advocate may be another�s whiner, but providing motorcycles with �more than equal rights� will help more people enjoy and employ them for regular personal transportation, and this will be good for society.

Todd Holmes wrote:
Hi Andy
My corporation recently announced a big push in support of Car and Van pooling. They have brought in a group called Metro Commuter Services. When I went to their website http://www.metrocommuterservices.org/commuter _info.htm I saw this "We want to reward commuters who walk, bike, bus, carpool, vanpool and even telecommute to work or school 3 or more days a week. We also have incentives for people who are interested in finding out about their commuting options." They said nothing about Motorcycling... Egads, am I slammed. Have you folks made any attempt to educate this hypocracy. We have a real battle here at Guidant, Inc.
Todd Holmes

Hi Todd,
Thanks for your message and comments. We are trying to provide tools for increasing awareness about motorcycles for transportation, but our resources are very limited. Ride to Work is supported by individual donations and the total we receive is small. Most government commuter support programs and doctrine ignore motorcycles or fold them in with private automobiles. In other parts of the world motorcycles are more accurately viewed as a positive personal transportation solution.

To raise awareness at Guidant, Inc., please download, print and read the four issues of the Daily Rider newsletters and then highlight the sections that are most relevant to your situation and attach them to a short letter to your supervisor asking for motorcycles to be actively included and accommodated because they are a social good and a valid personal commuter transportation solution. Copy the letter and attachments to your company's leaders. Find other riders at your company who will help you organize a 'ride to work' demonstration on Ride to Work Day this year. See if all the bikes can park together. Take a photo. Send it to your company leaders and note the potential to save time, parking spaces, etc.. Note in the letter that employees who ride to work always arrive more energized than those who come by public transit or private automobile, etc..

Todd Holmes wrote:
Do you have any recommendations as to what constitutes a "Good" motorcycle parking location for a corporation? My company, Guidant, Inc, seems to want to hide us away, or put us in a location that is dangerous to the rider and/or the bike. Any suggestions?

Hi Todd,
Common sense is all it takes to define good motorcycle parking. Bikes are different than cars in that they are an open vehicle that can be tampered with without breaking a window or opening a door. There are naturally occurring social and psychological constraints about opening or entering another persons 'space'. This is as ingrained in us as is the teritoriality in animals involving caves, nests, etc... So forgetting all about our private property principles, insurance, laws, etc... criminals or vandals may be less likely to bother a locked car than a bike. Unfortunately I do not have any statistical studies to back this up, but hope you (and others) accept it's common sense logic. It is part of what some people call our 'social contract', which is something that affects how all of us behave.

So what is good MC parking? Three things are obvious: Security. Weather Protection. convenience.

Motorcycles need a parking place where they will be safe. They need a hard surface. The more protected from sun, blowing dust, weather, etc...the better. The closer to a building entrance the better. Ideally, there should be lockers available for riding gear storage. A nice setup would be an 'EZ Up' shelter covering several
parking spaces near the bicycle racks and disabled spaces. Three to five bikes can park in one parking space. Something that bikes can be locked to like a ground anchor or ring might be good, too. A security TV system would be nice if the building was so equipped. If good parking is available, more employees who have motorcycles will ride them to work, and that will be good for everyone at the workplace and sharing the roads. If only non-secure spaces in dirty, overgrown locations at the farthest point away from the entry door are made available, fewer people will ride.

All it takes to encourage transportation motorcycling is the will and a little ingenuity. Good bike parking can be developed at any company for a very low cost. And then people will ride to work.

Let me know if you make progress there.

Justin Burk wrote:
After long years wanting to purchase a motorcycle, last April I did just that. (about 30 minutes after passing my written test and receiving my licence)

My first bike had only one purpose: To be cheap. I bought a `82 Honda 450 for $1500 (Canadian) and drove it to work every day that I could to save time and gas money. Considering that my 4-wheeled vehicle is a truck with a V8, it wasn't hard to justify fuel savings. The gas I save in one week pays for the insurance on my bike for a month!

My boss has been great about the whole situation. There are about a dozen workers in my shop, and we all park behind the building. In the front, there are 4 parking spots: Boss's, his son's, secretary's, and a visitors. After one day of me riding to work, he told me that I could park my bike up front, across the back of the vistors spot. (Parking is quite long, so there was no problem of cars sticking out into a lane.) So, now if I ride in to work, I have about a 5 foot walk into the door, not to mention that it is more secure by being in front, in view of people, than behind the building. Plus, visitors get to see a bike in the front of our shop, and ask why it's there.. which always present the opportunity to talk about the savings and fun of riding to work.

This year, because I've saved so much money from riding, I just bought a new SV650S. Should be even more fun going to work now! :)
Windsor, ON Canada

To: propaganda@ridetowork.org
From: Charles Maloney
Subject: Re: The Daily Rider #4

I'm a bit perplexed at the timing of receiving RTW's email but nevertheless pleased at reading the enclosed text.

Living and riding in the San Francisco Bay Area affords everyone on 2 wheels a wonderful motoring experience whether commuting or simply riding for pleasure.

Regarding the expansion of motorcycling's legal and logistical arena, one of my chief concerns pertains to our collective image among those who don't ride. Maybe I'm in the minority with my perspective, but I feel we are perceived quite poorly by the other people we share the roads with. Moreover, I can't honestly say that I don't understand their perception when, ironically, I have had just as many near-misses and close-calls with other motorcyclists. Riding like a moronic imbecile seriously taints our very worthy cause. Frankly, I think it's up to all of us to not condone at all this riding "style." There's a place for riding at the edge--and we all know it's called the track.

There are little things we can all do to project a better public image of ourselves, easy practices like always using turn signals...everywhere & all the time. In congested urban areas like San Francisco and Berkeley where double-parked vehicles constrict traffic flow I always try to get as skinny as safely possible to better utilize the available space and accommodate those motorists impacted.

inasmuch as motorcyclists have such a tremendous advantage in almost all traffic conditions I routinely try to yield to those who--irrespective of how inane--just have to change lanes; and I do the same with ramp traffic. With our greater acceleration capability I see no need to crowd drivers in front of my intended path of travel. Similarly I never camp out in the "fast lane." I'd like to believe (however quixotic) that this particular practice might demonstrate to others the spirit of the admonition in "slower traffic stay right."

I'd like to think that all these small things, common courtesies if nothing else, do indeed help to foster a better public image amongst our "cage driving" cohorts. Along with riding with proper gear and only using stock or quiet aftermarket exhausts, I sincerely think these are no-brainer ways to curry the favor of those who certainly have the legislative power to take away a lot of the freedoms we currently enjoy.

If we're genuinely interested in expanding our rights and privileges, on and off the road, it seems reasonable, prudent, and easy enough to consistently ride and behave according to these simple practices.

Given the probability of that group of renegade, disrespectful wankers andpeople who selfishness fuels their "I don't give a s__t about anybody but me" attitude, I think any and all acts of motorcycling diplomacy can only help common cause. I fervently believe that motorcycling, properly positioned, articulated, and marketed can provide a host of veritable benefits to the USA's energy and transportation needs. From lessening our dependence upon foreign oil imports to relieving the wasting inefficiency of urban congestion the list of redeeming value rolls on and on.

My unsolicited 2 cents!
Charles Maloney
San Francisco, CA

Ride To Work Booth, Phillipines 2003


Steve Hornung wrote:
It seems to me with the advent of "casual Friday" dress codes at many workplaces, that ride to work day should be on a Friday. I believe that greater participation would be gained by this move. Many motorcycle owners, but non motorcycle commuters have a fear of getting wrinkled suit syndrome, getting sweaty etc. If they were commuting for the first time this would allow them to feel more comfortable. Also, the attitudes on Friday are also more casual as a rule. Many workplaces are far less uptight on Fridays and many potential participants would not feel such a stigma of riding to work on a Friday. As support for my argument it is my observation that there are already more riders commuting on Fridays. I believe this is the major reason. I hope this helps. If we can get more riders to commute for the first time they may see how easy and fun it can be and thus continue the practice. That after all is the goal of RTW.
Steve Hornung
Hixson TN

Hi Steve,
The date of Ride to Work Day is now a 12 year tradition. In the years ahead I'd like to continue to re-inforce the established momentum for this day. Having a casual friday Ride to Work Day would be a good additional ride to work day, but we should not move Ride To Work Day to Friday.

Ride to Work Day is partly a demonstation of the advantages of accomidating motorcycles for commuting. This means increasing employer awareness that providing clothing changing and clothing storage places for those riders who wish to to keep formal and dress clothiing at work is important. For all riders who wish to conduct their work in ride-appropriate dress, it should...wherever practical.... become more acceptable for them to do so.

In advance of Ride to Work Day this year, I hope you'll leave some work apropriate clothing at your place of employment to change into when you arrive. Then, when changing, if anyone asks about this, it will provide a great opportunity to tell them about the advantages of riding and possibly even about the need to make whatever changes there that will allow you to commute more frequently on your bike.

"Robert E. Higdon" forwarded:

This came to me as is.
From: N2XUR
Subject: Day? Week!
Other national drives / messages / campaigns go on for a week, why not this one?
1) weather may be wrong in some parts,
2) not all riders who want to could on that day,
3) not all public out that day to observe,
4) more impact / noticeable if for a few days in a raw, public - pedestrians / motorists / media / politicians notice traffic (lessened?!) impact.
5) Locals; diners, newsstands, parking garages, take notice of changes, more?

Safe ridin'

Hi Bob,
Thanks for forwarding this. At some future point I would like to go to a ride-to-work week. But for this year and the next few, I am focused on the single day of demonstration. This will be easier for getting exposure and will help us do some of the public relations things better. The media are arguably more interested in stories
that are focused, dramatic and narrow, like a single day demonstration. There are 7 million bikes in the country, and about 85 million daily commuters...90% of them are in private cars. There are 135,000 motorcycle commuters. If on one day we could get this up to a millon riders...drawing only one bike in seven...then the average commuter would see nine or ten motorcycles for every one they see on every other day.

Whenever there is a motorcycle rally or gathering event, the local news media invariably have a story about 'where all those bikes came from...(?)'. If Ride to Work Day could generate some national stories about where all the bikes suddenly came from (?), or why they are out there, then the answer would be the RTW propaganda about motorcycles being a social good. This would help many interests arrange a better deal for riders in many areas of our society. The novelty of a single day helps encourage riders who do not commute to do so, more than feeling they have to ride to work for a whole week. RTW is about maximizing participation and focusing the demonstration at this point.


Michael Pandzik wrote:

I have a genuine love/hate relationship with the Ride to Work Day effort.

I love the idea of promoting our wonderful vocation/avocation/sport in such a positive way. It's a great idea, and therefore needs to be nurtured, supported, and expanded.

But I hate the day (especially, the month) you've chosen. I've ridden to and in Minnesota many times over the years, and -- let me tell you -- your third Wednesday in July is a heck of a lot different than my third Wednesday in July.

Here in Kansas, you probably couldn't pick a worse month or week for hot weather. It's SELDOM below 95 or 100 degrees F. on that day, with humidity to match. And the rest of the country south of me is just as bad, or worse, on that date.

Why not substitute another date such as the third week in September? Still not too cold that you can't ride comfortably in the northern states, but not so hot and miserable that participation is unlikely or nearly impossible everywhere else.

Just a thought for the good of the order!
Mike Pandzik

Hi Michael,
Ride to Work Day Date is too hot for comfortable riding in many areas. The day was originally chosen by Fred Rau and Bob and Patty Carpenter for a variety of reasons. They felt that this day was in what statistically is the best weather period for the country (least chance of rain, thunderstorms, etc...), and that it was in the peak period of the riding season and that because of this it would be a good day for both a high overall participation level and greater riding safety.

I will keep your idea about another day mind. You are correct that the current day is a good choice for riders like me who live in Minnesota. But your proposal about September makes a lot of sense, and participation might be higher at this time than in the summer.

Peter Jacobsen, wrote:
Usual failure to discuss exposure -- or number of people riding... few ride, few hurt. Also no discussion of making the streets safe for all, just armoring against dangerous streets.
Peter Jacobsen

Hi Peter,
Thanks for your message. Only in parts of the world where riding is accepted as an integral component of the transportation system (places like Taiwan...) do non-riding persons view issues like this without prejudice. Our job is to help riding-for-transportation become understood, appreciated and accepted here. Then helmet...and other... issues will be discussed in a different way. We can accomplish this. There are 7 million motorcycles here and only 137,000 are used on any given workday to commute. If we can have a few million in the traffic mix on one day, Ride to Work Day, then it will be a big step forward.

Wes Dean wrote:
Hello Folks!
I've seen "The Daily Rider" a few times and appreciate you putting it together. This is the first time I have looked at the website.

Lets see.. not sure where to begin here.

My name is Wes and I live/ride in and around Ann Arbor, Michigan. I ride all year long as I do not own a car. I sold it 3 years ago and have not missed it. This will be the start of my 5th winter ride.

I have molded my life to allow me the pleasure of being a year 'round rider. I work at UM and the cost for a car permit is $500~ per year. Plus you have to fight for a space. Motorcycles park for free and I get the same parking space every single day. No worries, no hassles.

I also live about 5 miles from work. So the cost of the commute is very minimal. With my KLR650 and its 6 gallon tank @ 60 MPG . in theory that works out to about 36 trips per tankfull.. awesome.

Cold weather is NOT an issue. I have my dress routine depending in the temp. The coldest I have rode in? That would be last winter -5 degreeF with a -24 degreeF windchill.

As for shopping, I hit up the local stores for what looks the freshest that day. I only buy what I can carry on my bike. I never have food laying around to get old.

Best weather to ride in? Those freak warm days in December or right at the start of spring.

I have several bikes at the moment. A '97 Triumph Thunderbird, '75 Honda cb550 and the 2002 Kawasaki KLR650. I also have a couple of project bikes going. I have never really written anything before about riding all year long. But I have done some "journal" style accounts of my winter riding if you want to check it out. Here are some links to my website you might find interesting.



So yea.. I thought I would introduce myself and say keep up the good work!

Everyday should be "Ride to Work" day.
take care,

Hi Wes,
Thanks for your message and good comments. Your motorcycle-centric approach to transportation is a great example. Our transportation patterns are similar. Although I own a car, most of my grocery stops, commuting, and daily transportation is either by riding, bicycling or walking. I live a similar distance from work. My car was driven so little last winter that at the garage where it's oil is changed they thought the odometer had broken.

I appreciate your example, support and encouragement.

To: agoldfine_rtw@ridetowork.org
From: <>
Subject: Ride To Work

What the hell is this ride to work day? I think politicians know there are motorcycles in the world. I'd even venture to say one or two might own one. This is the dumbest thing I've ever seen. You are demonstrating nothing. Tell whatever paranoid brainchild who came up with this to lay off the drugs, it will extend his life.