Let’s look at motorcycle commuter myths. Who rides a motorcycle to work? If you think you can create a pigeonhole that all motorcycle commuters neatly fit into, think again.
How did it come to this?
I have been riding motorcycles to work throughout a long and varied career. Whilst at university, I realised that riding a motorcycle for a regular commute might be an idea with merit.
I spent my first year in halls of residence on campus with all the convenience of a community where all my needs were within a 10 minute walk. In year two I had to face up to the reality of living in off-campus accommodation. I could no longer roll out of bed and get to a lecture hall within twenty minutes. I needed wheels. For a while I struggled with cycling, but it was still a long trip – uphill, and lecture theatres were poorly ventilated and – of course – full of hot air. I won’t go into too much detail, but let your imagination fill in the gaps!
Luckily, a mate offered a lift on the back of his 250cc Honda Super Dream one day. I was sold straight away. We arrived in good time, without fear of being stuck in traffic, relaxed, looking cool and having had a dose of good old fashioned fun.
Soon, I ditched the push bike and upgraded to a 50cc Honda Melody. I never looked back, and a succession of different motorcycles followed. Did I, a few years later, buy a car? Yes. Did I give up riding to work? No. Sometimes I found the car a better option. Yet, more often than not, the advantages of riding a motorcycle for the daily commute made the motorcycle first choice, even when I could choose between two or four wheels.
Let’s bust some motorcycle commuter myths
There are a whole host of reasons for riding a motorcycle to work, so it should not be surprising that there are all sorts of people that choose to do so. If you think that only motorcycle enthusiasts ride to work, think again. I chat with many commuters on motorcycles and it is clear that they don’t all fit the enthusiast pigeonhole. For some it is simply the sensible choice for purely practical reasons.
Above all, motorcycle commuters don’t fit one single demographic or occupational group. Data and facts are hard to find, but my straw poll surveys show that the riders at any motorcycle parking bay – under the crash helmet – are a broad range of ages, genders, ethnicities, beliefs and occupations.
Of course from the outside looking in, it is not hard to see why riders get pigeonholed. It is hard to recognise the variety of individuals when they all wear crash helmets. So perceptions of motorcyclists and who they are can get twisted. I know this from personal experience.
Be bold and make new friends
As I climbed the career ladder I got to the point where promotion came and a company car was offered. The expectation that I use it when arriving at client’s premises was made very clear. For many years I was effectively forced into the least practical transport choice for reasons of image and corporate prestige.
My job involved visiting clients most days. As years passed and new colleagues came and went it was a constant source of amusement to me watching the reaction of new faces in the office on the first day they saw me with no client meetings. Walking through the door of the office carrying a crash helmet, I saw a palpable confusion on some faces. How could this nice colleague have turned into a rebel biker overnight?
Of course I had not changed, but their perception of who rides a motorcycle had been challenged.
This actually turned into a sport for me, and yet another fun reason to add to the list of reasons to ride to work. It also enabled me to persuade a few office closet bikers to take the plunge and ride to work themselves. Riders are universally friendly happy people and they attract other friendly happy people. By riding to work I made new friends and reduced the parking problems for my employer at the same time.
Do your bit
MAG is running a survey this week to gain a bit more statistical insight into the diversity of individuals that currently ride to work. Please do take the time to respond. We will be back on Friday with the results.
More importantly if you ride – but don’t normally ride to work – take the plunge this Ride To Work Day. Walk proudly in to your place of work carrying your crash helmet. You may be surprised by the reactions, but you will probably persuade a few colleagues to give it a go themselves.
In short, spread the fun!