Personal Choice

By Diane Ortiz – President and founder of the Big Apple Motorcycle School.

Judging from the number of motorcycles on major TV shows lately there must be a great job market for actors who can ride. In the past couple of days there were riders on Blue Bloods, Law and Order SVU and the CEO featured in Undercover Boss. I especially like the latter as it featured the boss riding to work on his red and black MV Agusta in a full-face helmet, jacket, gloves and boots.  The actors portraying bikers in Blue Bloods wore helmets and lots of leather, complete with colors. That contrasted sharply with the recent news photos from Daytona Beach. One story, courtesy of the Daytona Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau screams out at Bike Week 2015: New Campaign Targets Women, with an eye-catching photo of women riders on large cruisers wearing tank tops, without helmets or any other protective gear. The NYS Lottery has an ad that shows a group of friends waving goodbye to a forlorn buddy as they ride away on their motorcycles after buying a winning ticket (presumably the friend didn’t share in the ticket purchasing).

What you choose to ride and what protective gear you wear is personal choice. That’s one of the great things about the USA. However, stereotypes persist. It’s offensive when people assume you are a certain type of person because you ride a motorcycle. The perception the general public has of motorcyclists is often formed by what they see on TV or in the press. The NYS Lottery ad sends the message that you may need to win the lottery to afford a motorcycle, insinuating that all motorcycles are expensive. In reality, most are less expensive than a typical car! The Daytona Beach article shows women wearing very little gear from which a non-rider might assume that is how most women ride. Some TV shows and movies often show motorcyclists as outlaws. One popular series features heavily tattooed men and women, many who ride motorcycles. I’ve had complete strangers ask to see my tattoos after I tell them I ride. That’s like asking someone to see their scar after you find out they had an appendectomy. Not cool! And, by the way, I don’t have any.

Lately there has been a shift to more positive press and TV coverage (e.g. Undercover Boss) and less to the typecasting of the motorcyclist as the outlaw bad guy or gal.

When I’m in a situation with people I’ve never met I’m proud to say I’m a motorcyclist/rider/enthusiast of two-wheeled (or three) wheeled motorized sports. Often there are others who ride, or aspire to ride in the group. Non-riders often say learning to ride is a bucket-list item, along with sky diving or adventure travel. I encourage them to give riding a try and point out ways to achieve their goal now.

We all have the potential to be ambassadors for motorcycling. By riding responsibly we can change the public’s perception of riders and riding, and that’s good for all.


Ride Safe!


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