A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of reading an opinion piece on ditching the car in favor of public transportation and walking. There is however a middle ground between seeing your hand me down Hyundai Elantra get another ticket or having to take the bus everywhere. That middleground, woefully seen as a toy in the U.S. but is the workhorse of transportation everywhere else in the world, is the motorcycle.
Trust me, I’ve heard all the jokes about “donor” cycles, “I’m not worried about you, I’m worried about everyone else on the road,” mom would be sad, etc. I won’t deny that motorcycles can be risky, but done safely they are a perfectly reasonable means of transport. For reference, according to the IIHS, in 2019 31% of those involved in fatal motorcycle accidents did not have a license, 36% did not wear a helmet and 29% were over a .08 blood alcohol content.
Unfortunately, this third of motorcyclists in the U.S. gives the rest an undeserved bad rap. While bikes are unforgiving of foolishness, get your license, wear your helmet and don’t do an impression of your drunk uncle at Thanksgiving and you’ll probably be okay.
In America bikes are not seen as a practical means of transport. However, throughout the rest of the world, bikes are used for everything from commuting to work to moving livestock. Just because you cross into America doesn’t mean motorcycles stop being useful for anything but fun. For starters, bikes are cheap all around. Used motorcycles, scooters and electric bicycles can be had as low as a few hundred dollars and provide years of transportation. Not to mention that parking is next to nothing at four to eight dollars a month on campus, and getting gas mileage that would make a hybrid blush is the norm.
Worrying about gas and parking goes out the window when you can pay for both of those with a 20 dollar bill and get Chipotle with the change. On top of this, Athens is a great place to learn to ride and enjoy your bike. Motorcycle parking is found spread out over campus and Athens. This area also has mild winters and sleepy yet technical streets that allow you to understand your bike before you go out into the world, making it a great place to learn how to ride if you are new to motorcycles.
Motorcycles have a blooming subculture all on their own that is thriving. While “biker” and Harley culture is rapidly disappearing with the baby boomers that upheld it, a cornucopia of more positive and inviting cultures have filled the vacuum. From adventure riders who cross continents on everything from top of the line BMWs to old postal bikes, to café racers building modern retro art pieces, to the humble commuter on his scooter, 2021’s motorcycle culture has a place for every person and meets all with a smile and endless friendly stories and advice.
Motorcycles are not for everyone, be it money or safety or having a place to keep it. But I have never met a person that has ridden a motorcycle and decided not to try it again because they did not have fun. So next time you are standing on Court St. and you see a little silver scooter bumble by, give two wheels a second thought.
Oliver Peters is a junior studying Spanish and aviation at Ohio University. Please note that the opinions expressed in letters do not reflect those of The Post.