MOTORCYCLISTS ARE A MINORITY ON THE ROAD. And amongst the majority of motorists who view motorcycles from inside their cars, there seems to be a few stereotypes accorded those of us on two wheels. What stereotypes have you been labeled? But first, let’s visit the dictionary.
Stereotype from the American Heritage Dictionary is defined as such:
1) A conventional, formulaic, and oversimplified conception, opinion, or image.
2) One that is regarded as embodying or conforming to a set image or type.
Over the years, I’ve heard non-riders refer to motorcyclists via a variety of stereotypical categories.
CRIMINAL: Going back several decades to my earliest recollections, I recall when it was not uncommon for non-riders to consider that if you ride a motorcycle you must be a criminal. Regardless of the notion that only a small percentage of bikers engage in truly illegal behavior (excepting traffic violations, since they are not limited to two-wheels), there existed a stereotypical undercurrent that a “normal” law-abiding citizen would not ride a motorcycle, for no more reason than the reputation established by movies and media portrayals. This was the first time I realized (as a teenager) how far afield ignorance can lead otherwise seemingly rational humans. I don’t think that idea is as prevalent nowadays, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there are still a few that hold that belief.
CRAZY: This might embrace a whole lot of other related and apparently unflattering depictions, but I have found it to be a common way non-riders describe us (or maybe just me?), epitomized by the simple exclamation: “You’re crazy!” I usually just smile and agree. If “crazy” might be characterized as the opposite of “normal,” than I’m pleased to accept such as a badge of honor.
DEATH WISH: I’m not sure if all nurses and medical personnel view motorcyclists as crazy or simply desirous of a dramatic death; but some do. Now granted, if I were an ambulance driver or any other professional who was charged with scraping motorcyclists off the pavement, I might think the same way — as long as I had never ridden a motorcycle myself or did not know someone who was a passionate rider. For more info, visit Motorcycle Death Wish.
ADVENTUROUS: Not all the stereotypes I’ve heard are negative. But if it weren’t for non-riders making comments, I wouldn’t necessarily have considered motorcycling to be adventurous at all, at least compared to wingsuit flying, BASE jumping, free soloing (single-person rock climbing without the use of any rope or protection system whatsoever) and dating. Although when viewed from the perspective of someone who lives a modern and relatively “safe” lifestyle, I can appreciate the appellation.
What stereotypes have others attributed to you and/or motorcyclists in general?