By ROBERT JUMPER
ONE FEATHER EDITOR
According to the latest complete data from NCDOT, 147 people were killed and 3,351 were injured in traffic accidents involving motorcycles in 2013 (North Carolina 2013 Traffic Crash Facts); and another 829 accidents occurred involving mopeds or scooters resulting in 34 deaths and 725 injuries. 19 deaths are reported from bicycle accidents.
I have friends who are avid cyclists; some with rides that have motors and some without. They tell me there is a feeling of freedom and excitement that other forms of transportation do not provide. As a spectator, I appreciate their enthusiasm and respect their hobby.
We live in an area that draws two-wheeler tourists. With dramatic titles like the “Dragon’s Tail”, thousands of bikers travel the western North Carolina roads each year. Many of our EBCI tribal members also enjoy the excitement of biking, and you will find bikers year-round on Highway 19 or Soco Road, coming in from the Blue Ridge Parkway/Great Smoky Mountains National Park and from Bryson City. Part of the exhilaration of riding on two wheels is the speed and agility that comes with it. An incline or decline coupled with curvy roads increases the thrill. Bikers have an extra responsibility to be aware of their surroundings and potential hazards. Additional speed and acceleration require additional focus. The extra agility must be met with the awareness and attention of the instability of two wheels versus four.
As motorists, we have a responsibility to make the roads as safe as possible and to watch out for pedestrians, other motorists and even animals that may be in the roadway. Vehicles are not weapons, but can easily be deadly if not used with care. Hundreds and sometimes thousands of pounds of metal moving at even a relatively slow speed can maim or kill. Bikes are typically smaller than cars and easier to miss when looking through a rearview or side view mirror. Bikes easily move into blind spots quickly and without warning.
Whatever the variety of two wheel vehicle, all of us who enjoy the privilege of driving on our highways and roads have a responsibility to ensure the safety of each other. If you see erratic or illegal movements from motorcyclists or vehicles of any kind, contact the authorities (*HP for the North Carolina Highway Patrol, 911 for emergency services or Cherokee Police Department dispatch at 497-7405). If you have questions concerning safety regulations regarding equipment and operation of vehicles, contact the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles at https://www.ncdot.gov/dmv/help.