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Basem Wasef

Should Motorcycles be Banned?

By July 13, 2011

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Motorcycle Crash

If you choose to travel on two wheels, there's a good chance you've been called "daring" or "crazy." Relatives and friends have probably asked you to be careful, and loved ones may have even begged you to stop riding.

And then there's Sun Sentinel journalist Hugh Curran, who says that motorcycles not only "can emit 10 to 20 times the quantity of nitrogen oxide than standard automobiles," they result in significantly more fatalities than four-wheeled transportation-- all while boosting heath and auto insurance premiums. He declares in an online diatribe that it's time "... for the grownups to take a stand and say enough is enough," calling "those people who have lost a loved one or friend in a motorcycle accident to stand up and ask that, at the very least, these vehicles be restricted to off-road areas and tracks."

Having once facetiously called for motorcycle chrome to be banned--on April 1st, of course--I can recognize the absurd humor in suggesting that motorcycles should outlawed from public roads. But the editorial is dead serious in its rebuke of bikes and everything they represent, with a Ralph Nader-like tone of righteous indignation.

Any idea of how you would share your thoughts on the topic with Mr. Curran? Comment here, and feel free to contact him directly at kanga573@aol.com, the email listed with his article-- and, as always, please keep it civil, and ride safe.

Sources: Cyril Huze Blog, Florida Sun-Sentinel


Photo Getty Images

July 14, 2011 at 5:13 am
(1) Matt says:

Completely ignorant. I know the risks and I accept them. I had a friend die in a car crash and I never once said to ban cars.

Let’s hear his thoughts on second hand smoke and drunk driving. Apparently cigarettes and alcohol should be banned for the same reason. Absolutely ridiculous reasoning.

July 14, 2011 at 6:52 am
(2) Paul says:

Ban motorcycles!?!
What next? Ban all means of transport for it is dangerous! Make the public stay at home in rubber rooms because it is too dangerous to go outside.
Ban books and magazines for they can lead us into wrong!
I get sick of these people that seem to want to take on the resposibility of all the public. They are like an over protective mother that wraps her kid up in so much winter clothing that the kid can’t even walk!!!
You people are just going to kill the human spirit. Sure riding a bike can be dangerous, that is what makes it exciting to ride!
Anything in life can have a certain amount of risk which makes it exciting to do.
Ban horseback riding next because it is dangerous! Look what happened to Christopher Reeves. Do that and you might as well take the cowboys out back and shoot them.
If you start banning everthing that is dangerous you will do more damage then good. Instead of banning motorcycles you should go after DMV to make it manditory to take motorbike training before you can get your license, or restrict the size of bike you can ride when you first get your license. That way you don’t get these yahoos buying 1000cc crotch rockets for their first time out

July 14, 2011 at 11:20 am
(3) Gordon Pasha says:

One cannot simply compare deaths per 100,000 vehicles to conclude motorcycles are more dangerous.

Motorcycles are used by a different demographics and for different kinds of trips than cars. The demographic tends to include a larger fraction of inexperienced riders and of young riders than the one for automobiles. If such group would drive cars, they would also have more accidents.

Motorcycles are ridden more commonly for short urban trips, which also are more accident prone.

These facts are well known, but unfortunately I have not found a single study done that corrects for the population, so we do not really know if motorcycles are statistically more dangerous than cars.

Studies have been done in police departments, where the demographics and training of drivers and riders and the types of trips are similar, and the number of accidents and fatalities is roughly the same.

Some may say “who cares about studies? It is obvious that even a responsible rider is more unprotected in a motorcycle”. But that cuts both ways, being more unprotected means the rider is more alert. Virtually no motorcyclist listens to the radio, checks a cell phone or eats a hamburger while riding. Few chat with a passenger. And most responsible motorcyclists are well aware of what happens to them if they get in an accident and try to drive defensively.

July 14, 2011 at 11:31 am
(4) Joe says:

This guy is a crackpot! Does he expect all of us to live in a bubble so no one gets hurt ever. I think this guy should give up journalism because he could get hurt with Carpal tunnel syndrome or maybe looking at the stupid articles he is typing day in and out will lead to eye problems. This guy is just trying to make a name for himself with shocking people. I would encourage everyone in the South Florida area to not BUY the Sun Sentinal because you could get ink on your hands and die from ink poisoning. Not to mention the trees they are killing to make this rag may kill all of us because there will be less oxygen for everyone to breathe. DO NOT BUY THE SUN SENTINEL!!

July 14, 2011 at 6:14 pm
(5) Eli Sahato says:

Yes, All of you are completely right. yes yes..
Motorcycles are really very dangerous but there’re some ways to ride safely without making even more one accident. Basem, I think that you’re a great guide here At about.com And that’s very Good that you just warning people here to not Ride a Motorcycle, not always for Riding, You Suggest friends to Ride and i don’t says that you says to people not to Ride but it can be sometimes difficult to understand. Before i came here I probably appreciated the fact that people wasting their time go on a motorbike for an hours and only for the love of Riding a Bike. Never forget that riders wearing helmet and that’s the solution for the dangers in the highway. I don’t know why you wrote here two weeks ago or three weeks ago the reasons why people who Riding a motorcycle don’t wear helmet. every Rider must but must and had to wear A helmet while you Riding a motorcycle. so, how can I say that.. I prefer much more car than a motorcycle. be safe and never make an accidents.

July 14, 2011 at 8:22 pm
(6) Pete says:

Brainless axxhole….
He should be banned. Probably can’t spell motorcycle. The real shame is was given the time and space put his crap in print.

July 15, 2011 at 1:03 am
(7) Lanie says:

I have been riding on the back of bikes since I was 3, I am now married with teenagers who are all looking forward to getting their own bikes and carrying on the family tradition. We Id say are an A typical family and we ALL ride. But more importantly Id like to point out the a majority of all motorcycle accidents are Car vs Bike. My family has worked with a group called ABATE that not only helps protect the rights of motorcyclist but to help bring awareness to the 4 wheel drives to be more aware. So maybe we should start banning cars so they quiet causing motorcycle accidents

July 15, 2011 at 1:40 am
(8) seema says:

nice blog….!

July 15, 2011 at 3:23 am
(9) Basem Wasef - About.com Motorcycles Guide says:


You’re kidding, right?


July 15, 2011 at 4:48 am
(10) Sameer says:

Ban cars, actually.

1. They spend most of the energy/fuel moving themselves, not people/things
2. They’re dangerous to others around as well.
3. Even without a crash, they kill way many more!

A very strange idea, this!

July 15, 2011 at 10:09 am
(11) kyle says:

statistically speaking, there are only slightly more motorcycle crashes per year than large diesel vehicles (18 wheelers, school buses etc) and in the case of motorcycles, usually it is only the rider who is killed or injured.
yet in every large truck accident, there is far more of a chance of multiple (six or more) people being killed, as opposed to just one.

and the amount of greenhouse gasses (carbon dioxide, as well as oxides of nitrogen) large trucks produce dwarfs that of any motorcycle.

they also account for a much larger percentage of the vehicles on the highways.

so i suppose under his reasoning we should also tear apart the diesel shipping industry, along with any school bus system using diesel vehicles?

no way, this dude is just some conservative A$$

July 15, 2011 at 1:00 pm
(12) Alan LaRue says:

Mr. Curran’s information regarding pollution caused by motorcycles is out of date, I believe. It’s true that the laws regarding tailpipe emissions from motorcycles are not as strict as those of cars, but they are stricter now than they used to be, and many seem to be quoting old statistics. Additionally, although allowed emissions are greater, in researching the topic, it seems that most new motorcycles produce far fewer unburned hydrocarbons and oxides of nitrogen than the law allows. Additionally, better mileage automatically means less CO2 and CO.

I would love to see a new article regarding the true state of motorcycle emissions, as (other than finding bits and pieces) I can’t find any articles less than 10 or 12 years old. Since that time, almost all new motorcycles have become fuel injected, and many have catalytic converters. Perhaps, Basem, you can address this issue.

July 17, 2011 at 1:15 pm
(13) BQ says:

This is the most asinine suggestions ever. Motorcycles are MUCH more fuel efficient and cause significantly less wear and tear on the road, we can park 3 or 4 in one parking spot for an auto.

Folks on Bikes are just fine – it is the ignorant ones in CARS who do not respect the rights of others!!

July 20, 2011 at 1:47 pm
(14) Breeze says:

I wonder if Mr. Curran showers without a helmet? You can slip in the shower and hit your head and get brain damage. Hmmm, maybe that’s what’s wrong with him.

July 20, 2011 at 1:49 pm
(15) Peter says:


July 20, 2011 at 2:51 pm
(16) Ronas says:

You know I was going to send this nut a letter and “try” to explain our side of the story BUT, why waste my time. The guy is just the the Tea Party……will tell there side but does not want to hear yourside. This guy seems just like that, a one sided writer in the news media. I know these guys (gals) very well. I worked in the media for 20 years.

Ban motorcycles? Good Frick’in luck!!!! Talk about another Civil War! The 4 wheels against the 2 wheels.

Taking a chapter from the gun owners “You’ll have to pry my cold dead fingers from my handle bars” !

AND…who is this Eli Sahato?

July 20, 2011 at 3:32 pm
(17) Speed says:

Mr. Curran and Mr. Sahato are just so dead wrong on so many levels,where should we start? Their comments don’t at all reflect any amount of research,they’re just OPINIONS,and ignorant ones at that. They don’t even deserve the effort of a response. Hopefully,anyone else who reads their little RANTS will easily recognize that they were created from seriously defective minds and consider them in that light.

July 20, 2011 at 4:25 pm
(18) Mike Caudill says:

This one just gave me a good hard laugh. No need to waste any space typing up why this guy is clearly off base because he does a great job of doing it on his own!!!

Good find Basem.

July 20, 2011 at 5:49 pm
(19) Dave says:

I’ll bet he text and talks on his cell while driving his BMW.

July 20, 2011 at 6:28 pm
(20) Bruce says:

There is a danger and risk to riding a motorcycle, no question. However, when looking at statistics, I’d like for people to take into account how the rider’s negligence or lack of experience contributed to the crash. There are often factors such as drugs and alcohol, excessive speeds, unsafe maneuvers, tailgating, not too mention overriding their experience level. How many times have you read the term “lost control of the motorcycle”, meaning that the crash may have not even been caused by another vehicle?

July 20, 2011 at 7:33 pm
(21) Salvatore Fonte says:

I have been riding motorcycles for 44 years. From the congested Chicago highways to the open roads of wi and western states. Twice I was run over by an automobile while sitting at a stop light, and another time I was rammed in the side by an auto making a U turn. My wife was killed crossing the street, hit by a speeding auto, and my brother was in a coma and almost died after being hit by a speeding auto. My cousin was hit from behind by an auto, while riding her bicycle, and died. Many automobile drivers are very careless drivers, and they are not paying attention.
Today the cell phone and gps screens are adding to driver distraction and causing even higher fatalities and injuries to all drivers, cycles and cars, and pedestrians. Last year my best riding partner was rear ended by a lady driving a jeep, while he was sitting at a stop sign waiting to make a left turn. She hit him at 45mph and dragged him for 110 ft before stopping. She was looking at her GPS at the time. He is paralized now, in a wheel chair, and will be that way for the rest of his life.
Banning motorcycles is the most stupid and absurb statement I have ever heard. Do you hear me saying ban autos , after all I have been through ? Better yet why dont you build some highways that are for motorcycles only !
I know that statement is as crazy as your banning statement, but all drivers need to be more aware of us motorcycle riders and give us the same respect as any other motor vehicle.
During my motorcycle riding years I have avoided many accidents with careless auto drivers because I am a defensive driver. Not once was there a traffic cop around to see the careless drivers mistake. This has made me a safer rider, and a smarter rider, and I am still going for 50 + years of feeling the breeze and crusing down the highways……………….
If you ride a motorcycle, watch out for the other guy……..
be safe, be smart…………….S. Fonte

July 20, 2011 at 8:41 pm
(22) alejandro says:

Risks are common to everything we do from breathing to sky diving. Some are risk adverse and want to protect everyone from everything. Some are more accepting that you should be the author of your own destiny. It would be interesting to see if we should ban newspaper editors to prevent them from hacking people’s privacy. Ban newspapers and editors so that we can be free from surveillance and their pontifications!

July 20, 2011 at 9:15 pm
(23) THE HOG SHOPPE says:

Ban Cellphones, not motorcycles and the roads will be much safer.

July 21, 2011 at 4:28 am
(24) hei ew says:

i think we need to raise awareness , in South Africa we have a group of volunteers known as Think Bike..
we are trying to raise awareness , showing the scholars on scooters that riding gear is essential and although helmets are compulsory in S.A. not everyone uses decent gloves , jackets and boots..

July 21, 2011 at 8:26 am
(25) Rob Hall says:

And while we’re about it its ban booze as well.
Oh wait…..

July 22, 2011 at 6:15 pm
(26) brent says:

it would never happen. to even think motorcycles should be banned is backwards. The Nox issue is overblown. Does anyone REALLY think a 2 cylinder vehicle that gets 45+ mpg is harming the environment more than almost any car on the road? Put it this way, if more folks rode motorcycles, we would consume less fuel,,,less fuel means less air pollution,,,you get the picture. Yes, it does take more balls to hoist your leg over a bike and commute to work so it all depends on how an individual wants to live their life. Some are too timid and want uneventful transportation (read: mercedes benz, toyota camry etc.) and to those I say bravo for choosing the way you want to travel,,,just don’t take away MY choice of transportation.-Biker for life.

July 22, 2011 at 7:24 pm
(27) Bob M says:

I think WE should BAN stupid people
ban motor cycles you are a F#$%ing looser man.
Do not let us find you we will ban your A$%.
Motor cycles get way better gas milage and they a much smaller carbon foot print than a freakin lawn mower you MAROON!!!

July 23, 2011 at 4:46 pm
(28) DON says:


September 3, 2011 at 2:08 am
(29) Joey says:

I’ve been riding for 8 months on the street now, I have had my fair share of moronic automobile driver pull out in front of me switch lanes while I’m riding right beside there window where they can see me or people barely missing me when stopping at a red light because they didnt see me it is not always the rider but it is almost always the automobile driver. because as others have said they are more worried about there phones radios gps etc. plus they don’t care because if they hit us it will barely scratch there car and they won’t feel a think. why ban motorcycles I say we ban cars and trucks also I think everyone should be forced to ride a motorcycle the first year of there life just so they can learn to pay more attention

March 7, 2012 at 12:30 pm
(30) Murray Hill says:

Yes motorcycle emissions should be cleaned up. But in a price competitive market, this will only happen if there is legislation to force the addition of EGR, catalytic converts, etc. Just like it had to be legislated on cars. They didn’t ban cars because of emissions – they just made them cleaner. Do the same thing for motorcycles.
Motorcycles do require the rider to be more safety conscious than the driver of a car. No sipping coffee or endless gabbing on a cell phone. However, because the participants are safety conscious, is not grounds for banning an activity. Go ban skiing, hiking, and snowmobiling in avalanche prone areas – that would make some sense.
If we want to avoid having motorcycles banned from the highways we must get along with our fellow motorists. Here are a few things we can do, every time we ride:
- be quiet, ditch the loud pipes
- be seen, never ride in blind spots, try a white helmet
- obey the law, signal for lane changes, stop at stop signs, etc.
- do not speed in urban areas, go to a track day event to get your thrills
- be courteous, don’t split lanes or pass on the curb at traffic lights
The only way other drivers will ever respect motorcyclists, is if we make a habit of strictly following the same traffic laws that cars and trucks are forced to obey.
Sell this idea: if every car and truck with only a solo driver riding in it was a motorcycle – we wouldn’t need to build another road for fifty years.

September 3, 2012 at 1:49 pm
(31) Dolores says:

My husband and I have been riding since the early 70′s. We are the owners of many bikes, such as; Norton and bsa. Our first bike was a 125cc suzuki. Today, we glide quietly, coming and going.
I will stop my fight on loud motor cycles when motor cycles sound more like a Lamborghini. The chinese and japanese build quite bikes, why can we.
Here’s my deal, you stop buying/driving loud motor cycles through small town in packs of hoodlums, and large city and definitely my neighborhood and i’ll stop writing my senator. Also, I find most all hardly buyers to have the small man syndrome, mostly bald, fat, and dirty looking. What persona is it we/you seek, I’m embarrassed, think gentleman, think!!!

September 9, 2012 at 4:47 pm
(32) Tonya Priest says:

Yes I totally agree. There are many reasons why they shoud
ld be. They ahould be concidered a atv type vehicle. Meaning not safe for road use. It also cuts down on a major issue in the united states. Stops them dead in their tracks. Major motor cycle gangs. We all know them, its not a secret, just to many are afraid to say a thing. They want t say they raise money to help others, let me tell you something about their world. They dont live in yours. They have a demeener to them that is sick and domented. When my husband died, I was told that I was not to deny any donations from one of the major gangs, I did, dont threaten me. I do not walk the life they do. Nor will I ever.they terrorize our streets, carry illegal weapons, shoot one another, over bs crap. they walk a life that most could not handle. But we are the sick ones cause we want them off our streets. BS get them off the streets, they drink and drive, they do drugs and drive, Ive seen it, I hate them for they rebel against a country that has given them so much and they have destroyed our inner cities and now stretching to the country sides, get them the hell out of here and do the biggest sweep of garbage removal the worlds ever seen. Good Americans deserve this..

September 26, 2012 at 2:40 pm
(33) Tyron says:

Wake up bikes are fun and safe enuff jest cause your to s*** to do your bike test s wake up or get a sport car f** ha. Ha.

October 16, 2012 at 8:10 am
(34) Marion says:

motorcycles not only “can emit 10 to 20 times the quantity of nitrogen oxide than standard automobiles”… I don’t know where he got that from. Most motorcycles are smaller vehicles than cars, so it would be logical to conclude that they would emit less, with a big bike emitting roughly the same amount as a car like a toyota corolla – in other words, an economy car. They have always been considered better vehicles for the environment than cars because of the size of their engines, ie, their carbon footprint.
Secondly, the number of accidents they are involved in compared to cars… Any clue as to why that is? It’s because most car-drivers are idiots that don’t look where they’re going and hit motorcyclists. That is what happens seventy five percent of the time, so perhaps, rather than blaming the victims, we should look at forcing car drivers, ie the perpetrators, to undergo more stringent safety courses so that they will know how to look out for hazards such as motorcyclists and scooter riders better.
Which brings me to another point. Many countries have a younger driving/riding age for mopeds precisely because it is a cheap/clean form of transport, and it is affordable for school kids. For example, France has an age of 14 for mopeds, 16 for learner license and 18 for a full license. This is because young people can’t afford cars, but they still need reliable transport to get to school and work. Also, this way, more people can learn what it is like to be vulnerable and to drive defensively, and they get the skills they need for later, which stay with them. Perhaps we need a similar stringent system.

October 16, 2012 at 8:11 am
(35) Marion says:

Finally, we need basic handling and advanced theory/handling courses, no question. We need practical tests. We need our roads to be safe. But, life is dangerous. I love my bikes. I am a woman who will never give them up, ever. If it kills me, so be it – it’s my choice, and I feel it would be a bigger tragedy if I didn’t live life the way I wanted because of what others say.

January 5, 2013 at 3:29 pm
(36) Stranger says:

Actually cars not only cause more fatalities that motorcycles, they kill more people each year than guns, we should ban all forms of transportation.

May 24, 2013 at 12:12 am
(37) MD says:

Motorcycles not only are responsibe for more deaths per 100,000 than cars, but most of the time it’s the motorcyclists fault. Weaving in and out of traffic, cutting in front of cars, riding between lanes, gunning it at lights, pulling stupid maneuvers, driving on shoulders. Let me tell you, I once saw some dipsh*t on a Harley driving between lanes and got creamed when a car went to switch lanes. Guess what! Wasn’t the car drivers fault at all, the car driver was obeying the laws and the motorcyclist not only broke several bones and had to pay a big hospital bill, he also had to apologize and pay the car driver compensation and his insurance went up. I know this because I got out to check, the accident was 2 cars in front of me. I was glad to see the motorcyclist learned a lesson! One less human bullet on the road!

October 4, 2013 at 7:40 pm
(38) Steve says:

Banning motorcycles is the best idea I’ve heard in a long time.

Ten years ago, my attitude toward motorcycles was live and let live. If the organ donors want to smear themselves on the pavement, good luck to them. But I’ve seen far too many dangerous idiots on motorcycles, especally recently, and because the motorcycle ‘community’ insists on defending the indefensible antics of its riders, and the motorcycle lobby makes it impossible for police to effectively enforce motorcycle safety and noise laws, I’m at the point that, yes … just ban the f—ing things and get them the hell off the roads.

February 15, 2014 at 11:13 am
(39) Lil Abbott says:

I disagree with total banishment. I think what we need is better rider education. I’m not talking about a bubble gum chewing course like the MSF, I’m talking real education. At a minimum anyone wanting to ride a motorcycle should be required a complete a two year college type course. I’d much rather it be four years but I’m trying to keep it somewhat realistic for the general public. And depending on your overall grade at graduation would help determine what size class you’d be permitted to ride, if permitted at all. And last but not least, everyone would be required to renew their riding permit annually just like a hunting permit.

February 26, 2014 at 11:45 am
(40) Mark says:

I’m all for mandating an MSF Basic Rider Course to legally operate a motorcycle. Riders who were not properly licensed and trained were far over-represented in the Hurt report (as around 80-90%) in most categories.

However, banning them, never. I’m a motorcyclist myself. He’s just jealous that I only spend $15 a week on gas :-)

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