Look out and gear up

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As mentioned in this week's Seven Days spread, the first ever International Journal of Motorcycle Studies (IJMS) conference is taking place this weekend. Just in time, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) announced a new element in the Live to Ride campaign: encouraging riders to gear up while also telling drivers to be aware.

According to a CDOT press release:

'For the past two years, we have primarily focused our Live to Ride campaign on encouraging training and riding sober, but now we are addressing the importance of using proper safety gear, which not only includes helmets, but also eye protection, gloves, boots, long pants and jackets,' says Pamela Hutton, CDOT’s chief engineer and an avid motorcyclist. 'As a rider myself, I understand the desire to feel the freedom of not wearing a helmet or leathers, but the risks are far too great without them. We hope more bikers will be convinced that wearing proper gear is the best way to protect themselves from the unexpected.'

One major factor in the state’s motorcycle fatalities is the lack of helmets. In 2009, over two-thirds of the 88 riders killed in Colorado were not wearing a helmet or were wearing it improperly. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that helmets are 37% effective in preventing fatal injuries; meaning 22 Colorado riders in 2009 could have been saved if they had been wearing helmets.


When talking to Lisa Garber, a presenter and co-chair of the IJMS conference this weekend, about why she loves riding even after 22 years of experience, she mentioned several reasons to keep that helmet on, "the motorcycle is a dangerous thing, but it’s partly accepting that risk and accepting the responsibilities of that risk... that creates an independence." In addition, she mentioned that having a helmet actually increases one's freedom through anonymity:

The motorcycle is the perfect place to have unconscious material arise [in your mind] because when you put on the leather and you become a person dressed in black, with a black helmet, you are anonymous. You become a nobody in a certain way in the world, therefore, the only thing that one has to pay attention to is riding well and the road...I think there’s also, for me, a sense of when I get on the motorcycle, nothing else matters. I’m completely immersed in the moment because you have to be, because in order to stay alive, you know.

I do think that being anonymous... is very helpful because it means that nobody particularly cares about you and you don’t have to make eye contact with anybody, or, like, be nice. You know, you’re just there, being. You’re moving through time and space and that’s your job, is to move through time and space. That’s all you get to do and it is, I think, it’s a very profound, almost archetypal experience to be just on the road.

For more information on the Live to Ride campaign, check out CoMotorcycleSafety.com.

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