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Archive for January 26th, 2009

no_colorsSomewhere in a windowless, cinder block room in the basement of an institutional building in Olympia, Washington police officers are passing on secrets.  Meanwhile the folks on the 2nd floor might look at introducing strict anti-biker legislation which would allow organizations to be banned and people prevented from associating.  And in the Capital parking lot the WSP decides this is the “right time” to send a message to motorcyclist and started photographing everyone who arrived including clubs, motorcycles and license plates.

In my youth I would have been overly alarmed, but there is more to aging than just gray hair.  Wistful yearning for something past or nostalgia as it is known, is also part of the aging process.  I should have been a cowboy.  At least they have remained true to their lifestyle.  Cowboys are still respected and no attempt has been made to take their freedoms away.  They can wear a cowboy hat, a bandanna or whatever they choose and have never been made part of gang legislation.  Their ride, the horse, has not suffered the embarrassment of their counterpart, the motorcycle. It still has four legs and the mechanisms for riding has remained the same for a lot of years.  No attempt has been made to legislate an air bag, legislate noise, legislate riding attire or have it talk to you!  A cowboy has not been banned from a bar because boots and a PBR buckle were deemed clothing symbols representing a banned “group.”  Cowboys have no profiling concerns, no harassment or false pre-text stops like many motorcycle enthusiasts.

You see we’re slowly allowing the government and law enforcement agencies to take away our rights and dictate to all motorcycle enthusiasts what we can and can’t wear and who we can associate with.  Today it’s biker clubs then tomorrow they will target the Lions Club or whoever else they “feel” like making out to be a bad organization.

cowboy_coffeeDo you think I’m off base or headed in the wrong direction?  Then consider this.  People make decisions that carry extremely different levels of healthcare risk. For example, fatalities on motorcycles are far more likely than in cars (35 deaths/million miles vs. 1.7 deaths/million miles) (1). Motorcyclists are also four times as likely to be seriously injured (2).  Many legislators don’t thing car drivers should subsidize the costs for the increased risks taken by motorcyclists.  But when you really look at this situation it’s employers who purchase health insurance so they can decide what to cover. And guess what?  Companies have exclusions for items that the executives considered unwise: no coverage for treatments resulting from motorcycle accidents, sky-diving etc., (3).

In short, “Black Thursday” was represented by over 100 riders with the same goal.  There were independent motorcycle enthusiasts, Veteran clubs as well as 1%ers all focused on exercising their constitutional rights as citizens to actively lobby representatives who control the destiny of Washington state motorcycle riders. 

Congrats to WAC.o.C. and ABATE on a professional and well attended day in the democratic process.

References:

  1. Trends in Motorcycle Fatalities Associated with Alcohol-Impaired Driving-United States, 1983-2003. JAMA. 2005;293:287-288. MMWR. 2004;53:1103-1106
  2. U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Traffic Safety Facts 2001 DOT HS 809 473
  3. U.S. Department of the Treasury, Department of Labor, Department of Health and Human Services. Nondiscrimination and Wellness Programs in Health Coverage in the Group Market; Final Rules. Federal Register. December 13, 2006;71(239):75013-55 

Photo courtesy American Cowboy Coffee.

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leisure_seekersThe upcoming riding season has me contemplating a “Route 66” road trip…and this version of the famous song which spotlights steel guitarist Herby Wallace will have any country/swing fan smiling at the classy display of talent.  Or if you’re a Jazz aficionado then you’ll really appreciate this piano version from Japan.

But my story starts with John and Ella Robina.  An elderly couple from Chicago.  He has Alzheimer’s.  She has an incurable case of cancer and stopped taking her treatments.  He’s driving the family’s late-1970’s RV.  She’s riding shotgun and popping pain pills.  He has random outbursts of anger mixed with confusion…she’s cynical.  Ella calls all the shots and decided they should take a final vacation together — to Disneyland — on Route 66! 

Are you troubled with where I’m going on this? 

It’s the story from Michael Zadoorian’s new novel, “The Leisure Seeker” which arrives in book stores this week.  It’s quite the “geezer” adventure on the “mother road” in search of a past that they both are likely having a hard time remembering.  Even though the book is fiction, the idea of mixing geriatric-age couples with motorcycles on a two-lane road raises the question again of “When is too old to Drive?”  I’ve blogged about this previously HERE.  I’m thinking about camper after camper loaded up with “recliner drivers” — drugged up on meds — in need of hourly naps — yet damn determined to rediscover life in their golden years.

Scary…I may need to rethink this?

Photo courtesy Flickr.

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