Commuting on a Motorcycle:
Thoughts from Inside my Helmet
By Leah Petersen
Commuting on a Motorcycle: "Do you really ride a motorcycle?!"
As a female motorcycle commuter this is a question that I get daily. It puzzles me, but I usually just brush my helmet hair from my face and respond with my customary, sarcastic reply, "No, I just like carrying the leather jacket and helmet around." Sigh; is it really that hard to believe?
It's a commonplace that men, women, regardless of age, kick off the conversation in this manner before bombarding me with a series of questions; what kind of bike?, are you scared?, do you ride it on highways?, how long have you been riding?,...wow, that's amazing. I humor them, like it's the first time someone has pelted me with these inquiries. I figure the more people I can give the facts to, the more people could possibly convert from the typical Escalade driving American, to someone who jumps on the bike for their commute. Seriously, I spend $10 a week on gas... Now that's a useful fact.
I have a solid history of commuting on a motorcycle. I've commuted for 5 years in New York City and Los Angeles and I never really thought about my role as a motorcycle commuter in detail until I lived in Italy. It's difficult to see the oddity of an everyday situation until you experience an alternative. In America I was accustomed to being the sole cyclist, drowning in a sea of full size vehicles. Upon arrival to Florence, I was floored with the sheer number of mopeds which sped around the ancient city. I soon discovered Florence boasted the highest population of mopeds in Europe and it made perfect sense! Every time my female language instructor buzzed to work on her shiny, red Vespa I began to see how a small personal vehicle really was a feasible option for everyone commuting in a day and age that is pressured with global warming, rising gas prices and delicate foreign relations with countries we rely on so much for fuel.
The great thing about bikes as a transportation alternative to personal cars is they are fun! Bikes are far from the stinky, crowded buses, they are a beautiful and simplistic, the ultimate freedom machine. They not only cut your transportation bills and emissions in half, but bikes also unveil a brand new world, yours for exploring. Sure, you will run into problems such as: where will you put your morning latte (there are no cup holders on the bike). Possible alternative: You begin your day with a smaller coffee which you drink inside the coffee shop, instead of ordering your 'usual' (grande, double-vanilla with extra whip cream) from the drive-thru. Possible outcome: You consume a fraction of the calories since you only have time for a double espresso and you get to know 'Steve,' the barista who offers you some stellar tips on how to keep your rosebushes the envy of the neighborhood. Can you start to imagine the 'motorcycle commuting' version of you? I see a thinner, more independent, conscience citizen, with an extraordinary rose garden.
Jokes aside, a commuting on a motorcycle is not farfetched. It is a very viable option for anyone looking to cut their expenses, play their part in preserving the environment, or just willing to learn something new. I do hope you will truly consider all your options next time you need to go somewhere and maybe you can become another oracle of information when someone stops you and asks, "Do you really ride a motorcycle?"
For more information on commuting on a motorcycle and how you can ride to work and why, check out Motorcycle Commuting.
Leah Petersen is a writer, photographer, aspiring stunt rider and all around motorcycle enthusiast. To see more of her work or contact her go to: Clanofants.com.