This week’s SPaM features an article brought to you from Motorcycle Accident, a site/blog dedicated to public awareness on motorcycle safety as well as debunking the long held stereotype of the biker as “outlaw.” So to all you die-hard bikers and motorcycle enthusiasts out there I bring you Gina from Motorcycle Accident.org!
America’s Perception of Motorcyclists
Motorcycles have been around for decades, and like every other group or culture in life, motorcyclists are judged by society. Society‘s view of bikers has one similarity with all society’s other perceptions of groups/cultures: it is ridiculous.
Perception 1: All Motorcyclists Are Outlaws
These are the words that describe how people perceive motorcyclists: criminals, gang members, outlaws, and thugs; and the list doesn’t stop there. Sons of Anarchy is only one example of how television and movies depict bikers. The mid-1900’s mark when motorcycle clubs became popular and the foundations for America’s perception of bikers were set. According to a TV Tropes article, the view of a typical motorcyclist is a, “big, burly, grizzled man wearing a leather jacket and riding a Harley.” Bikers are always thought of as belonging to a gang; supposedly bikers wear their gang colors, “a vest over their jacket that displays their gang name, insignia, and area of operation. Most gangs also have a system of patches that indicate members’ various accomplishments and duties.” Oh, but the ridiculousness doesn’t stop there.
Motorcyclists are thought to be White Supremists who live at the tattoo parlor and love to party, drink, do drugs, and get into bar fights. Bikers are believed to live nomadic lifestyles, solely supported by their engaging in black market trades, like illegal drugs and weapons. Part of the perception is also that women are second to men in motorcycle gangs and “are called ‘mamas’” according to the TV Tropes article.
This account, though humorous, isn’t far from the truth. The truth is that the vast majority of motorcyclists aren’t in gangs, and certainly aren’t criminals, outlaws, or thugs. In recent years, with the impacts our actions have on the environment becoming more clear and with increases in gas prices, motorcycles, which typically get over 50 miles to the gallon, have become a fuel-efficient and green way to travel; and people of all career types ride them, including doctors and lawyers, whose professions seem to indicate a conservative vehicle choice.
Perception 2: All Motorcyclists Pack Because They Love to Fight
There’s a perception that motorcyclists don’t just love bar fights, but that their little hearts flutter at the idea of any fight. As a result, they are always packing just in case an opportunity to create havoc presents itself; “Classic weapons of an outlaw biker include clubs, chains, and knives. Many real-world bikers carry large maglights because legally they are not considered weapons.” And there are several ways to start a fight with fellow motorcyclists, if one feels so inclined: “The best way to piss off a biker is to wear your own “colors” displaying another gang’s turf as your home city. The ultimate crime, however, is knocking over their motorcycles.”
Perception 3: All Motorcyclists Love to Wear Cow
Another perception of motorcyclists is that all they wear are leather products; it’s a fashion statement and it makes them look like they’re tough. People believe that leather is simply part of the motorcycle culture, and it feeds into the whole “gang” view on motorcyclists. The truth is, however, that wearing leather is not simply a fashion statement and that motorcyclists do not only wear leather; the point of motorcycle wear is to protect riders from the elements and in the event of an accident. Riders also wear Cordura, Kevlar, and ballistic nylon because these materials are durable.
So there you have it. Being a motorcyclist does not entail being in a gang, nor wearing leather, packing a weapon, black market trades, or bar fights. What is does entail is fuel efficiency and a lessened impact on the environment; oh, and a really cool looking bike.
Gina Williams is a guest post and article writer bringing to the public’s perception on motorcyclists.
Gina also writes articles about motorcycle safety.
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