Originally posted to ydnar.vox.com in May 2006.
Got my motorcycle license
today. Woke up way too early for the privilege of being the first person at the San Francisco DMV
, took a couple tests and got the sheet of paper (why California insists on this archaic process of mailing your license after a couple weeks is beyond me).
I had taken the CHP motorcycle safety course
so I could skip the DMV driving test. I heard you needed a scooter or incredibly tiny bike in order to pass it. The class was definitely worth it.
So now I have to sort out a bike. Patti
has graciously offered to loan me a bike for a while, so I think I can put off a purchase for a couple months. Every friend I have who rides has told me the same thing: Don't get the bike you really want first. Get a first bike, get comfortable riding it (translation: drop it a couple times), then spend the lucre on the real thing.
So I've been trying to determine the likelyhood of crashing a motorcycle in the first N units of time. Factors in my calculation:
- I have plenty of experience riding a bicycle in traffic. San Francisco, Los Angeles, Tokyo and rural riding. Mountain biking, road and track (velodrome). I ride a brakeless track bike 300 days a year, rain or shine. Logged a few thousand miles.
- Had an automobile license for 14 years, and no tickets (speeding or otherwise) in 5 years. My car has a stickshift, 300HP and a big spoiler. Still have good driver discount. ;)
- Since I've been cycling seriously, I've had only 2 incidents that could be categorized as crashes.
- Both crashes involved MUNI rails.
- Both crashes were on a mountain bike with knobby tires (note to self: not great for city riding).
- Only one crash resulted in an injury.
- Zero incidents on a road or track bike (brakeless or otherwise).
- Percentage of bicycle rides without a helmet: 0.05%
- Percentage of unhelmeted rides longer than 2 miles: 0%
So I have a good safety record behind the wheel and handlebars. I like to go fast, but with a safety margin. Assuming I keep things reasonable for the first thousand miles or so on a motorcycle, the risk of an injury resulting from a crash or other incident resulting from my own actions should be relatively low.*
*Yeah, I'm knocking on wood too.