Mandatory ATGATT? Thanks, but No Thanks

I really hate it when the state acts erratically and dumb ideas make it to the surface, showing that some of the white collars are really getting paid for being just silly and avoiding any reasonable thinking. Why am I unnerved? Because it really annoys me when I see the way that governments are always trying to rip their citizens off.
"It was happening from the early days," some may say. I know, darn it: me, you, your neighbors and pretty much any folks in their right mind know just how lousy such situations are. However, things do have a limit, and I believe nothing will happen to make people willing to accept such nonsense from any government beyond that line.

SGI is a state-run insurance agency in the province of Saskatchewan, Canada. Yes, the decent, cool, nice, friendly guys north of the USA. What's definitely not cool and nice about SGI is the fact that they're complaining of lack of money, and come up with all sorts of not that funny ideas on how to cash in more.

After SGI threatened with skyrocketing insurance rates for motorcyclists just to cover for their payments, the decent, cool, nice, friendly bikers stood up and filed complaints to Mr. Brad Wall, the Saskatchewan premier. Seemingly a decent, cool, nice, friendly guy himself, Wall put a leash on SGI, so the announced rate hikes were capped to around 15 percent.

Now, if you thought that 15% was already high, let me inform you that SGI had some plans to triple the rates in certain cases, and the minimal increase was allegedly around 75%. Because they said they needed more money.

With the hikes tamed, SGI came up with a new idea, which is even funnier: mandatory protective gear, to reduce the hospital bills and claims and help balance the finance a bit. Well, thanks for your happy thoughts and concerns for our safety, but no thanks!

Don't get me wrong: protection is good, this goes out without saying and I just know it too well. Forget those who oppose the helmet laws around the globe, for them natural selection works just as good as with other species.

But there is a fine line between wearing a helmet and being forced to go ATGATT (all the gear all the time), and SGI – and for what's worth, pretty much any other government or government-backed agency – would better not cross it. Let me explain why.

First of all, after cooling down, I found out that the problem with the crashes was really simple: one can hop on a Busa with a learner's permit. I know friends from Europe are exophthalmic right now, but after they come back to their senses, there's more. CBC reports that a fresh rider can get on whatever bike he or she chooses after “a brief written exam, which could be done in 20 minutes.” How's that compared to the 100 HP law in France?

Dudes, bikes are darn dangerous even for seasoned riders and even more – a lousy 125cc bike can do 75 mph (120 km/h) easily. You really think that missing a turn and hitting a tree at 75 mph is that much different from coming in at 120 mph? No, it isn't! It's a fine nuance, usually related to the surface that has to be searched for exploded bike parts and splattered human body parts.

Does “beginner rider” ring a bell? If it doesn't, then it's really easy to see why your funds are always running low. It's not the actual rates that cause the lack of money, but the number of crashes. Which number, you've probably guessed it by now, is related to riders' experience, safety training and so on.

You really believe that a kid getting on his first bike, an R1, after having paid your stupid huge insurance, will just go on like “ well, that darn rate was so high, I'd better watch out”? Seriously. The rev counter will hit the red just as soon, and if he's not lucky, you're already signing checks.

Enforce power limitations for new riders make thorough bike riding and safety training mandatory and the rest will follow. A rider with solid safety training is threefold more careful on the road, because he or she KNOWS what can happen.

These better-prepared riders will gear up by themselves, without any law ordering them to. They will start to appreciate good health and bringing the bike back home after a day's ride and tell the story. They'll even talk to their peers and convince then to gear up.

Stop complaining that you don't take from motorcyclists what you end up paying them, and start treating the cause of this. And the cause is not the low insurance rates, but the low safety training of those whose money you're getting. Help make better riders out of them and you'll see how the number of crashes goes down.

Advertise safety and advocate safety training, thorough testing before getting on a bike and try to avoid letting noobs ride a 200 HP crotch rocket. They'll ride longer, pay you yearly rates for more time and they'll crash less often. Cha-ching!

Making ATGATT mandatory is abusing the riders. And discriminating. And whatever you want to call it. And it's wrong. Again, I'll explain why.

It's wrong in so many ways to force a rider to wear his or her leathers in the hot summer weather. All right, Saskatchewan may not have Sicily summers, but you get the point.

Many of us ride to work and also ride around the city shopping, paying visits, and seeing to our lives. Can you picture doing this wearing leathers or Cordura touring jackets and trousers? We can, and it sucks, pretty much like your ideas.

Even more, let's pretend the law passes. Sad day! Who is going to enforce it and how? Will police officers chase bikers to see whether they're wearing CK jeans or Icon trousers? Will they be able to tell from a distance that a fellow's leather jacket is a motorcycle or a casual one?

Or will they pull over the riders and check their clothes for protection inserts and abrasion resistance factor? C'mon, it's getting funnier and funnier! Motorcycle gear includes the retro fingerless gloves and MotoGP-spec titanium racing gloves. Who can judge whether a rider wearing the former is more “legal” than his mate wearing the latter? Or they're just the same?

There will be abusive fines in such a future, and they will lead to lawsuits of which the riders will win many. And again, the state will write checks. I really fail to see how you've solved the problem.

In a very gloomy potential future, a government might turn 1984: make a list of accepted gear. And this means the end of freedom. Sorry to say this, but we, the people of Earth, have seen similar things happening, and none of them was for the better.

None of the promises and the statements that assure us that nothing will change for the worse is worth a rusty nickel. Such type of leveling is bad, wrong and dangerous. And unfortunately, governments and lobby groups seem to be prone to doing exactly such things from time to time. Remember France and their breathalyzer law... some smart guys thought it was well worth spending several millions for lobbying to have THEIR product homologated as THE legal, mandatory breathalyzer...

Such things do happen all the time in all the countries, so we can't really blame the governments for trying. In the end, a government really caring for the citizens of the state is a rare thing.

Finally, it's discrimination against riders. Complaining that you can't pay what you owe to a guy injured in a motorcycle crash that he or she did not cause is pathetic. Knowing just how many accidents happen because of other road users, setting the blame on the injured riders whose only guilt was that they were in the way of a drunk driver is making me sick.

Again, the main problem is not the fact that the rider was not wearing a jacket. In the end, it's his or her choice whether they want to find out just how bad asphalt burns are. The problem is with the driver who shrugs and SMIDSYes (SMDSY stands for Sorry Mate I Didn't See You).

As for the riders whose middle name is Insane Speeding, that's why crash forensic experts are there for. And yes, if a rider is injured while breaking the law, then mates, I will be by your side, supporting you in not covering for the damage.

Right now, I'm looking out my office window and it's raining out there. And my ATGATT is my helmet and summer gloves. Peace!
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