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Willie G. at Sturgis 2010

On any given Sunday, Willie G. Davidson, Harley-Davidson’s chief styling officer, rides his way out of West Juneau Avenue into the rolling hills near his home in Milwaukee, WI. A roadside coffee shop somewhere at the top serves as Mecca for the motorcycle enthusiast, and fertile ground for his design inspiration.

It’s a popular misconception that having an engineering background would be a big advantage designing motorcycles, but that’s not necessarily the case. In many ways, the requirements are quite different. The ability to get highly creative ideas down on paper fluidly is not something that can be easily taught and the rational approach of engineering may hamper more creative solutions at the early stages. It’s a lot easier to take an original sketch idea and seek to make it more practical than taking a mundane-but-feasible theme and try to inject some flair into it.

Given we’re about 5 months away from the 2012 new model launch, it’s likely that Willie G. and his team have placed the new design’s in the completion vault… where each aspect of the motorcycle has been so inexorably linked; its powertrain, aerodynamics, even its exhaust and sound system will all appear to not only speak the same language, but be having the same conversation… with the rider.

Paradise Pier at Disneyland

So, what does the unmistakable beanie-topped head of Willie G. do now?  I’m not talking Disneyland!

He prepped for the grueling days and workload as a judge at the EyesOn Design Awards.  A couple weeks ago Willie G. participated in a judging panel which included Chief Judges Jack Telnak, former Vice-President of Design for Ford and Tom Matano, Director of the Industrial Design program at Academy of Art University and former General Manager of Mazda Design.  It’s interesting that a hundred plus years after its birth, Harley-Davidson continues to hold the affection of academic leaders, motorcycle designers and renowned transportation design programs the world over.  Why?

But I’ve digressed.  The judges walked through the hall, considering their choices and then the EyesOn Design Award for Best Concept Vehicle, was awarded to the Porsche 918 RSR .

I don’t subscribe to conspiracy theories, but coincidently Ferdinand Alexander Porsche, son of Ferdinand ‘Ferry’ Anton Ernst Porsche, celebrated his 75th birthday during the EyesOn event AND it’s uncanny that Ferdinand who also founded the Porsche Design Studio in Stuttgart which collaborated with Harley-Davidson on the successful V-Rod watched Willie G. present to his company the award.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog
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May is Motorcycle Awareness Month.

There are so many interests groups out there these days. Sometimes the noise level and the drum beat volume gets so loud that you can’t determine if they’re about discrimination or empowerment.

As a “wanna-be” policy maker I planned to get more involved in this year’s safety efforts and do more than just sit back and pontificate via this blog that May is the celebratory occasion.   But, sometimes making a difference is harder than you think.  You might recall back in February I blogged about reaching out to the various city and state government entities to advocate the usage of the “Amber Alert signs” during Motorcycle Awareness Month.  My ask was they display the words: LOOK TWICE. SHARE THE ROAD WITH MOTORCYCLES or something to that effect.  I wrote the “Gov”, but I suspect he read one of my previous “Lazy Ted” enough with the higher taxes for the working folk posts and…I got a non response, response?!  I even sent a number of emails to Oregon State Police and ODOT in hopes of getting a positive response, but was shot down in a blaze of blogging glory.  Don’t these people know who I am?  Interestingly OSP has time for a cell phone campaign, but has no enforcement effort tied to Motorcycle Awareness Month.

It’s my view that as these type of issues become more complex, these representatives are not empowered or entrusted to make on-the-fly changes and this becomes problematic whenever public servants are ask to make modifications contrary to the initial intent or it is in question with the letter of the law on sign usage.  Oh well…what seems clear cut and logical to me isn’t to them.  So be it.

But, there is good news!   There will be more visibility this year for motorcyclists because the Motorcycle Safety Program and Vehicle Safety Equipment Program Manager was successful in obtaining billboard placements around the state (see above photo). This is a FIRST in Oregon and the messages will be specifically targeted to make drivers aware of motorcycles.

The billboard placements will be on I-84 @238th, Hwy-97 (somewhere – not sure just yet) and I-5 at Keizer. Unfortunately these billboards won’t go up until June due to advertising timing. It doesn’t sync up with Motorcycle Awareness Month, but June works and is better than nothing.

The are other placements too.  They include: Transit in Portland, Salem, Albany, Corvallis, Eugene and Medford. There will be print and radio ads available to all markets and Water Closet media placements will be at “motorcycle friendly establishments” in Portland and Eugene. There is also web banner logo’s available for groups, organizations, bloggers and motorcycle dealerships to use on their website or blog. All of the placements will be up throughout the summer months, starting in May (except billboard).

All this is coming exclusively from the hard working folks in the ODOT Transportation Safety Division!  A major shout-out to Michele O’Leary for the efforts on this front and helping make Oregon a little safer for motorcycles.

Important to note is the motorcycle rally on the State Capitol that is being sponsored by BikePac this Saturday, May 1st. ODOT’s role is to read the Governor’s Proclamation that May is declared to be Motorcycle Safety Awareness month. The rest of the event is coordinated by BikePac and ODOT is not affiliated with any other part of the event.

Lastly, there is a Governor’s Advisory Committee on Motorcycle Safety and if you have the opportunity I am sure they would appreciate hearing from motorcyclists.  Their next meeting is July 16th and you’ll find logistics and email information HERE.  They always have an open spot on the agenda for any motorcycle group, organization or individual to come and speak.

Photo courtesy of ODOT and used with permission.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Time to Ride

Welcome to the Northwest H.O.G (nwhog) blog, friends. This is your place to digest things, and provide commentary. Laughlin River Run has come and gone and as the signs of early summer start to show I hear more and more bikes motoring through the city. I have some friends who ride all winter, as long as there isn’t snow or ice on the roads, but summer is here. 

Sturgis, in 5 weeks and it seems like the right time to kick off a blog.  The sunshine. The moonshine. The asphalt.

The Road and LIVIN IT!

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