So over on the New York Times... health... blog... thing, there's this article about "A New Risk of Middle Age: Dying on a Motorcycle." In it, we learn what we already know: mid-life-crisis bikers are splattering themselves everywhere at an alarming rate. The article mentions declining reaction times, bad eyesight, poor physical condition, blah blah blah, but doesn't say ANYTHING about how many of them are drunk and untrained riders.
What really pisses me off about this article is that the main point seems to be "wear a helmet." Helmets are not magical devices that keep us from crashing, they're last ditch protection for our skulls.
Do I think you should wear a helmet when riding? Yes, always. We all make mistakes, and crashes happen. Do I think training is even more important? Definitely. Most crashes happen, as Irondad and countless others have pointed out, when a rider blows it on a curve. In other words, most crashes happen because the rider didn't know what the hell he or she was doing.
These midlife riders aren't getting killed solely because they aren't wearing helmets. Furthermore, the motorcycles aren't taking control of themselves and killing these people by riding off the road. They're getting killed because they start out riding a big, heavy bike like a Harley, they're not trained riders, they aren't wearing helmets, and a whole bunch of them only ride to and from the bar.
There is inherent risk in riding a motorcycle. You can be a dope and accept all of that risk, ride without training, wear a do-rag and a sleeveless t-shirt and get killed like a chump when you overshoot a turn and hit a tree, or, you can learn to minimize the risk, wear proper gear, and get trained on how to handle your bike (leading to more fun, by they way, since you can then ride a twisty road without making a mess in your pants when you scrape your footpegs).
I hate these alarmist articles about how dangerous motorcycles are, and how riders all need to wear helmets and Nerf-designed suits to keep us safe. How about demanding rider training and some personal accountability in the one vehicle crashes? How about demanding some accountability from the SUV-driving, coffee-swilling, cell-phone-yapping morons that run us down in the other kind of crash?