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What if Everybody Rode Motorcycles Instead of Driving Cars?

Local Commentary

Posted: February 18, 2008 8:08 p.m.
Updated: April 19, 2008 5:02 a.m.
Maybe - just maybe - if we all put away our cars and rode motorcycles we could solve most of the world's problems.

Start with world peace. Wars are fought over oil because oil is what gasoline comes from, and without gasoline our cars won't go. Without cars, we lose our mobility. Production stops. We're back to the horse-and-buggy days.

However, the average motorcycle gets around 40 miles to a gallon compared to the average automobile, which gets around 20. The difference is even more dramatic when we compare the mileage a lightweight motorcycle gets versus the popular SUVs. A 500-pound motorcycle will average about 50 mpg. A 5,000 pound Escalade or Lincoln Navigator will probably be lucky to average 14 mpg.

Imagine the reaction in the rest of the world if the United States, which consumes far, far more than its proportionate share of oil -a finite resource - were to reduce consumption by half or more. We'd be viewed as caring world citizens rather than "Ugly Americans."

The environment would benefit, too. By reducing emissions from burning fossil fuels, we would reduce the threat of global warming. Maybe save the rain forests. We would not only have a healthier population, but in the long run possibly avoid a worldwide health crisis. Think about it - half the amount of the smog we now breathe.

We'd save countless millions of dollars on additional roadways. Motorcycles don't tear up roads like heavier vehicles. And four or five motorcycles can easily fit into the space one automobile takes. With four times as many vehicles using our freeways and turnpikes, we wouldn't need to build new ones. We could then use the money instead to reduce our federal and state debts - or to build schools, hospitals, hospices, shelters for the homeless.

With everyone riding motorcycles, stress would be greatly reduced. For one thing, no more traffic jams. Unlike a stalled car making thousands of people late for work, a stalled motorcycle can easily be bypassed or pushed off the road. And, as all motorcycle enthusiasts will attest, riding a bike is an exhilarating experience (except when you have to dodge cars).

So riders arrive at work awake instead of drowsy, invigorated rather than weary, happy, not sad. They're on a "natural high." And this positive energy translates into greater efficiency and production at work.

The trip to work would be safer, too. That's because riders, unlike drivers, would not be eating snacks (and gaining weight), drinking coffee, applying make-up, reading road maps, talking on cell phones, fiddling with radios, heaters, air conditioners, or any of the countless other distracting things automobile drivers do daily. And they wouldn't be lulled to sleep by warm heaters and soft music.

Perhaps best of all, with everyone riding instead of driving, no one would have to worry about being hit by a car. Most motorcycle accidents, particularly fatal ones, are the result of a car hitting a motorcyclist. Frequently, the driver makes a left turn in front of an on-coming cyclist, then says "I didn't see him" - in spite of the fact motorcycles all run with their headlights on.

When the motorcyclists arrive at work, parking wouldn't be a problem. Because five or six motorcycles can fit into the space one car requires. So, instead of spending more and more money to erect parking garages, government and industry could spend the money for more beneficial purposes.

Motorcycles sell for about one-third to half as much as automobiles, so even if we import the motorcycles, we'd be making huge gains on our imbalance of trade, thereby improving our economy and lowering the national debt.

Maintenance and repairs, too, are far less costly for motorcycles than for automobiles. With the money families save, more children could go to college. Think what a good thing it would be to educate more doctors and lawyers. Well, educating more doctors, anyway, would be a good thing.

As our society becomes better educated and more affluent, perhaps we would become more compassionate. With more doctors, more education, a lower national debt and a balance of trade, perhaps we could then feed and care for the world's hungry and ill.

Everyone riding motorcycles could even slow the population explosion - because its much harder to conceive on a motorcycle than in the back seat of a convertible.

It would be a friendlier, less hostile world, too. Motorcyclists wave at each other. Drivers honk their horns and give each other the finger.

Donald Gately is a Santa Clarita Valley resident. His column reflects his own opinion, not necessarily that of The Signal.


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