About

Note: This site was founded Feb. 20, 2009. New content to be added ongoing as I’m able. Its aim is to be all about safety for anyone who rides a two wheeled motor vehicle. If you have any questions or topics you’d like to see covered, you can e-mail me at jeff@motorcyclesafetynews.com

About me:

As a rider, I have 28 years experience, have ridden the wheels off of several big bikes, and have competed in WERA sanctioned amateur road races on a Suzuki GSXR750. I currently ride a Yamaha R1, 1000cc sport bike, but I have friends with Harleys, Ducatis, MVs, every other brand … you name it. We all have one thing in common. We rely on a lot of factors to keep us upright and safe.

I have crashed eight times. Only a few times was it my own error that put me down. I have had cars pull in front of me violating my right of way, I have slid out with a “low side” crash pushing my cornering speed at 60 on off ramps, I have lost the front wheel in the rain on an oily off camber road. I’ve hit the ground at 60-plus a couple times, and thank God I was wearing leather and a helmet and got off comparatively easy.

As a a writer, I have a B.A. in Journalism from Temple University in Philadelphia, and 12 years experience writing and editing professionally. I have been a correspondent for the Philadelphia Inquirer, and managing editor for the Philadelphia Bulletin. Also, in the 90s I wrote more than a dozen car repair manuals for Chilton Book Co., and know motor vehicles well. Prior to this I also worked a season as a service writer for Montgomeryville Cycle Center, a large multi-brand dealership here in the Philadelphia suburbs. I currently have friends who are well-regarded, regionally and even nationally known players in the motorcycle industry.

About this blog’s theme:

This site is not a push for safety legislation. On principle, I am pro-gear, and pro-helmet, but agree it is a choice. In my opinion, however, it is a “choice,” I would never willingly not exercise. I always wear gear head to toe. Not because anyone makes me, but because I think it is my best likelihood for survival with the least injuries should worse come to worst. I believe in being proactive, not denying the realities of riding’s dangers, and doing what is best to maximize your chances.

This said, many people think that motorcycle safety in the U.S. is a giant miss on our collective radar screen. If you get in a car, it has air bags all around, seat belts, it is designed like one big crash cage.

And why is it that when in every arena of life, from cars, to walkways, to lawn chairs, to little league, to you name it … safety concerns are steadily increasing, while for motorcycles, there seems in many quarters such a battle?

It seems completely paradoxical from one viewpoint too. After all, what protection do you have on your motorcycle or scooter? A helmet maybe? Maybe a leather suit with body armor at most?

Or if you are like the average rider, jeans, maybe a textile or leather jacket. Maybe not even.

Last Summer, Phil Davy, National Sales Manager for Icon Motorsports thanked me profusely when I told him I was writing on motorcycle safety for the newspaper I was then editing.

He said while they are making progress in getting people to accept the idea of greater bodily protection, the message on motorcycle safety for too many, “has been falling on deaf ears for 100 years.”

I told Phil I like what Icon is doing though, along with all the other top safety gear producers. They are trying at least as much as ever to make being safe also “cool,” or fashionable, and more comfortable too.

By educating and informing, removing excuses for blatantly disregarding one’s bodily safety is what it’s all about, and what this blog is to about too.

My research (which is ongoing) has led me to speak at length with many key people working in the motorcycle safety industry nationwide. I’ve talked with top execs at Dainese, Rev-It!, Icon, and others. I’ve spoken with Paul English, proprietor of Bohn Body Armor who actually is from England and has outside-the-box insights on we Americans and our cultural attitudes toward adequate gear.

I have contact with several transportation safety officials in the federal government, and my state (Pennsylvania), as well as representatives from helmet testing agencies like Snell, and I have had several talks with good old Professor Harry Hurt at the Head Protection Research Lab. Prof. Hurt headed the one and only study of its kind examining motorcycle accidents in Greater Los Angeles in the late 1970s through to 1981, and his report is considered a still good benchmark of facts on what it takes to survive on a motorcycle or scooter.

So when I give my opinion, I will back it with facts and journalistic balance, and as much real world knowledge and common sense as possible.

And the research shows that many agree – while things are getting better – this country may be dead last among all developed nations for how it treats safety standards on motorcycles and scooters. There are few mandated gear requirements, and the most important ones – helmet laws – are being legislated away. All the more reason for the rider to realize he or she must take responsibility, and be proactive. Big brother may be watching you, but when it comes to motorcycle or scooter safety, he is not watching out for you! You need to realize it is almost all on you.

Now before anyone comes back at me and tells me he or she is not one of those who do not wear a helmet or leather or textile – or maybe you are one of those who do not wear gear and tell me I can mind my own business – I am not “going there” like some safetycrat trying to force you to be safe against your will. While I may chide “Big Brother,” I am not Ralph Nadar or your mother speaking here. I am a reasonable journalist who likes to ride. But I do not just “live to ride,” I also want to ride and live to tell about it!

In this site, I will therefore attempt to be “fair and balanced” (and I have a proven reputation for that as a writer). I will also divulge up front that personally, I am pretty libertarian in my views about your “rights.” I do not question your rights to not wear a helmet or gear. You may have the right to risk your skin and bones, but let’s just call this blog’s content one big consciousness raising session, shall we?

If after paging through this site, you say you will still leave the helmet at home on a hot day, or the leather jacket, or for that matter heavy pants, boots, gloves and so forth, that, I agree is your business.

Don’t get mad at me though if I also start raising issues about costs to society, costs to loved ones, and costs to you, if God forbid, the unplanned-for happens.

I am not known as a wimpy, non-risk taker either. In fact I scare myself by how little fear I really have a lot of the time, if that does not sound self-contradictory!

I have hung out my knee and dragged it on racetracks. I have wheelied my bike up to 105+ mph many times, and have done crazier stuff I do not want to publish.

But I do not advocate some of the risky stuff I’ve done, and in any case, I’m not suicidal. I just want you to know I understand the need for fun and freedom and love bikes for a lot of the same reasons many red blooded American riders do.

My attitude however is while it is great to be a chance taker, I do not pretend I am tougher than a steel guard rail, or another vehicle, or the road itself should my bike and I part company. Nor do I deny reality that it is possible I may one day crash. And if I do, I want to be best prepared, if possible.

The older I get the less I want to play around with chances that can be controlled.

Safety is not about your bravery, it is about your common sense, and self respect, and care for those around you who also will suffer if you suffer.

And as mentioned, why is it that in other countries they have this so much better figured out by many more riders on average?

I want to examine these issues, and this blog is here for that. It is here for you.dsc01004
My scooter

photo-121
Jeff Cobb

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Andy Luck 08.27.09 at 6:36 pm

Jeff,

I found your site from a Motorcycle.com email. Great work, I think I can make good use of it. Can I ask how freely I can use your material if I acknowledge you as the author? As you can see from my email address I live in Australia, and although here in Victoria I think we are one of the most safety conscious jurisdictions in the world there is always more to be done.

I am close to retirement but I have ridden (nearly) every day for 44 years and motorcycling defines my life. I have never raced but I have been trained by Keith Code at Phillip Island – what a revelation! I spend 12 years teaching people to ride in the UK and 8 years here in Victoria and although I have not done so for about 15 years I retain my interest in Motorcycle safety.

I am a member of the Ulysses Club, a national social club for motorcyclists over 40 years of age with about 28,000 financial members. We have international Clubs in New Zealand, South Africa, Germany, Norway, the UK, Canada and, would you believe it, Vietnam! It is about time one was founded in the US! We do have US members but they have not established a Club yet.

We have a high profile in the Road Safety arena inside and outside of Federal and State Government and are represented on many Government committees and advisory councils. I represent the National Committee, NATCOM, on the Victorian Motorcyclists Advisory Council which advises the Minister of Roads and Ports on motorcycle related issues. We have a unique responsibility among Advisory Councils in that we advise and endorse the expenditure of funds from the Victorian Motorcycle Levy. Every Motorcycle Registration in Victoria has a $47 levy on it and these funds are earmarked for expenditure on motorcycle specific initiatives. Fortunately, if you have multiple registered motorcycles ( I have 3!) you only have to pay one Levy charge.

As this levy is discriminatory, only applying to motorcycle registration, it is a very controversial issue amongst motorcyclists as you can imagine, but I believe that it has been to our benefit, certainly we have much lower, and falling, motorcycle accident rates than the other states.

We have a large number of returning riders in our age group, and we are concerned about the rising numbers of accidents amongst this demographic. The club has recently formed a National Road Safety Committee on which I represent Victoria and although we will work closely with the other National Motorcycle bodies, particularly the peak body, the Australian Motorcycle Council (AMC), we intend to concentrate on our own issues.

I will be pleased to refer to your site to assist us in our endeavors.

I hope you will forgive me if I comment that 106mph wheelies are not conducive to a long motorcycling life. I hope you don’t practice this any more. They have no purpose other than ‘showing off’. This is a character weakness, in MY opinion!

Jeff 08.27.09 at 7:24 pm

Is it showing off if no one is around me? Ah, and then I guess every MotoGP racer is a showoff too. They all wheelie for the crowds at the finish. Do they get upbraided for character weakness, or do their popularity points go up? Does anyone tell them their motorcycling careers may soon end for such behavior? …

:)

But no worries, mate! I’m kidding you back. I appreciate your frankness, and your opinion is valid.

I respect a man who is not afraid to ask for a favor, then tell me I might lack character all in the same introductory e-mail. It shows you actually have character, and I’ll look forward to knowing you …

I’ll e-mail you the rest of this note …

Jeff

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