Cringeworthy Phrases: Motorcycles are Dangerous

Cringeworthy Phrases: Motorcycles are Dangerous

“You’ll shoot your eye out, kid!”

After nearly two decades in the game I would’ve thought that by now people’s comments about how dangerous motorcycles are would just roll right off my back. Or at the very least that I’d be able to keep my trap shut and just make some polite acknowledgement that I’ve heard what they said.

Why, oh why do I feel compelled to remind them that EVERYTHING IS DANGEROUS?

While some things are improbable – shit still happens. People get shot at the mall, get flesh eating diseases, win Powerball and get struck by lightning. What the hell are you supposed to do? Put on a bubblewrap suit and spend the rest of your days at home?

Did I ever tell you about that time when someone drove their car through the front of my grandmothers house? (Yes, seriously.) You aren’t even safe at home on the damned couch!

Absolute safety is an illusion. People just manage to find a personal level of acceptable risk and try to minimize their potential for injury. The rest is up to the universe.


I suppose the other part of these exchanges that I don’t understand is what the person telling me that motorcycles are dangerous wants me to do with that tidbit of enlightenment.

Okay! Motorcycles are dangerous. Now what happens?

How do you handle such helpful folks?

15 Replies to “Cringeworthy Phrases: Motorcycles are Dangerous”

  1. I have a rebuttal that goes something like this: Life is a risk based activity. Everything we do, from walking down a flight of stairs to driving to work, has risk associated with it. We all are constantly making decisions about accepting or rejecting risk. We base those decisions on any number of rational or irrational factors; prior experience, intelliligence, fear, ability, or lack of any of those, or any number of other criteria. And alot of us are most at risk when we don’t or refuse to recognize that risk. On a motorcycle, I acknowledge and accept those risks, and hope my skills, awareness, choice of equipment and other intangibles are enough to keep me relatively safe. Bob B

      1. Good question. I think it’s cuz we are very visible, and the activity has never outgrown alot of its negative stereotypes. When someone thinks they’re gonna “scare me straight” with a story about a motorcycle crash, I respond how I’ll never eat grapes because of someone who choked to death eating them! Or some other made up on the spot bullshit reply!

  2. Rachael,
    I am a private pilot which is what I assume you mean by amateur pilot. I get that once in a while, but not as often as the comments on bikes being dangerous.

    I agree with them, bikes are dangerous. But as Bob says life is about risks and managing those risk, and the fact that we manage those risks makes it acceptable.

  3. Fuzzy,
    I just spent half an hour in my garage looking at my bikes, not one of them tried to hurt at any time, didn’t even move an inch. Seems safe to me.

  4. What gets me is what typically follows, the story about the friend of the sister-in-laws parents who was killed or badly injured 10 years ago. You never hear those stories about other sports/pastimes. Perhaps it’s just our cross to bear.

  5. My usual response is you can fall down the steps tomorrow and break your neck. So you might as well accept the risk in everyday life and have fun with it.

    This reminds me when i was in the hospital for an xray on my hand after hancock. The doctor and I were talking and some how the conversation got to the kid we are expecting soon. He said to me “Well you should probably stop riding motorcycles then huh?”. In that case I was absolutely dumb founded I gave a stare of complete surprise and shock. When I finally snapped out of it I called him crazy grabbed my results and left. O and my hand was fine…..just bruised.

  6. My Mother in Law tells a story when she she arrived at hospital having travelled through a hedge from her then partner;’s motorcycle: She had previously broken her back aged 7 when a bomb blast through her against the wall of the air raid shelter. The doctor remarked that riding on a motorcycle was dangerous especially for her with her history – she promptly replied that smoking was also dangerous….2 weeks later the doctor was dead through lung cancer.

  7. Curious Onlooker in diner parking lot: Nice bike. (substitute: Nice day for a ride, eh?)

    Me: Thanks. (substitute: Yup, but then any day is a nice day for a ride!)

    Onlooker: My uncle got his leg ripped off riding a motorcycle.

    Me: Ummmmmm……kay.


    I remind myself in these situations that the non-rider is likely trying to wish me well or wanting me to know that he hopes I’ll be safe…albeit coded in a horror story. Just once, though, I’d like to respond thus:

    Is that your car over there? My great-auntie was scalped when her face went through the windshield of a car.


    Are you planning on ordering the salad? ‘Cuz I knew this guy who choked to death on one of those baby corns.

    1. What’s stopping you from a similar reply. You most likey won’t change that persons view about motorcycles, but you will be letting them know in no uncertain terms that their comment is meaningless, and that yes, you acknowedledge and accept the risks inherent in motorcycling. Perhaps in this situation, we all can and should take the opportunity to politely point out risks that person takes in their daily lives, and ask them what they’ve done to acknowledge and minimize them. These people are basically attacking our way of life, however “well intentioned” they may think they are. Sometimes I point out the risk they took in preaching to me, and getting preached back!

  8. I don’t remember ever hearing that comment from anyone that matters. Others, maybe, but I don’t remember…

    I think that just about everyone I know has/rides some sort of OHV such as a quad or snow machine, motorcycling just sort of fits in with everything else. Motorcycle with sidecar is like a street legal snow machine…

  9. On Monday, I was asked by a co-worker when “I’m going to give up motorcycles” because a friend of HIS was involved in a motorcycle accident over the weekend.

    I told him I’d give it up when I was dead, since crushing my L3 vertebra and destroying my ankle didn’t get the job done, I took it to mean it’s the universe telling me I should keep riding.

    Nice of him to feel compelled to tell me how I should give it up because he knows a guy who got hurt.

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