Speeding motorcyclists playing ‘Russian roulette’

Dat Louie and Mark Kruger of Pacific Riding School comments on The Province.

Speeding motorcyclists playing 'Russian roulette'
Pacific Riding School instructor Mark Kruger points out a motorcycle helmet labelled with percentage numbers indicating where impact occurs when riders are involved in collisions.

Photograph by Ric Ernst, PNG
By Frank Luba, The Province July 23, 2012

With summer finally here, motorcyclists are taking to the streets and highways — and getting into trouble.

The latest fatality was early Sunday morning when a 48-year-old Surrey man on 88th Avenue hit the right rear quarter-panel of a car that was turning left on 150th Street. While the accident is still being investigated, police believe speed was a factor in the accident because the bike slid for nearly a block after the collision.

That death followed another motorcycle fatality that occurred shortly before 6 p.m. Saturday in Vancouver on East Waterfront Road near Crab Park when a 44-year-old man lost control of his unlicensed bike, hit a curb and was ejected from his bike, colliding with a concrete barrier.

Vancouver police are looking for anyone that might have information about the incident.

Motorcycle instructor Dat Louie admits “it doesn’t look good.”

The part-owner of Pacific Riding School in Surrey charges students $775 for 10 hours of theory about riding, 10 hours riding in parking lots and 10 hours on the road.

The No. 1 thing he preaches is “control.”

“Stay in control — yourself and the machine,” said Louie. “Ride within your limits.”

He laments the fashionable trend away from full leathers and protective gear to the “cool” look of riding in a T-shirt like the professionals “stunting” or doing stunts on their bikes.

Then there’s the issue of speed, which is just a twist of the wrist away for any motorcyclist.

Just last week, five motorcyclists were nabbed for excessive speeding on the Sea to Sky Highway. Some of them were doing double the 80 kilometre per hour speed limit.

“If you want to go fast, there’s venues like the Westwood Motorcycle Roadracing Club [at Mission Raceway,]” said Louie.

“If you enjoy speed, take the bike on the track. On the street, switch modes and be in control.”

He calls going fast on the street “Russian roulette.”

“It’s just a matter of time,” said Louie. “Your number will be called. They actually think they’re good. No, you don’t get good at Russian roulette. You just got lucky.”

Statistics back up Louie.

According to the Insurance Corp. of B.C., there were about 98,000 motorcycles insured in 2011 or only 3.46 per cent of the 2.8 million policies in the province.

But a June report from the B.C. Coroner’s Service shows that motorcycles and mopeds accounted for 37 of the 300 motor vehicle deaths in 2011 or 12.3 per cent.

Going back to 2002, the average annual number of deaths in vehicles is 415.6, with bikes and mopeds accounting for an average of 40.7 or 9.79 per cent.

After Sunday’s accident there have now been two bike deaths in the Lower Mainland in 2012 in areas policed by the RCMP and seven overall in B.C.

The one biker death in Vancouver is in line with what’s happened there in past years.

fluba@theprovince.com
twitter.com/frankluba

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