Freedom is Making a Comeback

For as long as I can remember I have had a fascination with motorcycles.

As a boy, this wasn’t driven by any particular experience but more the anti-authoritarian and freedom movements that the motorcycling culture represented. There was something inspiring to a young boy about the robust motorcycling heroes captured on the big and small screens.

Later, as an adult, my interest took a new turn with the purchase of a small bike for transport. It quickly dawned on me how dangerous motorcycling can be. I also realised that I didn’t have the right mindset at 18 years of age to be a responsible rider. So the bike was sold and my love of motorcycling was once again relegated to vicarious joy. That decision certainly made my parents very happy.

Some 18 years later, during what I laughingly call my first mid-life crisis, the desire for motorcycling again took hold. I obtained my licence and bought an affordable cruiser from the local dealer.

After six years, the pleasure of my weekend rides has not diminished; nor have the dangers attached to this form of motoring. Despite my more mature approach to how I ride, the risks are still significant. A single mistake, by you or other road users, can have catastrophic consequences.

Yet motorcycling is growing in popularity with increasing numbers of new bikes being registered on Australian roads.

I am sure the relatively inexpensive nature of motorbikes as a transport option has something to do with it. With fuel prices near record highs and city parking prohibitively expensive, a motorcycle is a cost effective alternative.

I also detect a revival of the anti-authoritarian and freedom-loving movement that so appealed to me as a young boy. However, on this occasion, rather than being inspired by celluloid heroes, I suspect it is a real rebellion against the encroaching nanny state that increasingly governs almost every aspect of our lives.

There are so few pastimes that clearly have the same potential for personal disaster that are not yet strangled by red tape and regulation. It suggests to me that people are actually clambering to take some personal responsibility.

That might explain why the ‘extreme’ sports are a fast-growing competitive arena – irrespective of whether you are competing as a team or only against yourself.

There is a growing awareness that life is meant to be lived to the fullest extent possible. We cannot satisfy the requirements of human nature by going through the motions in a sanitised and bureaucratised world.

And yet that is the path we are on. Our children are no longer learning from experience about risk-taking. In too many schools and backyards, they can no longer climb trees, ride bikes or play contact sports. Unable to learn from the experience of making mistakes on a relatively minor scale, the judgment necessary when assessing risks later in life may not be as finely honed as in previous generations.

As a result, the next generation of motorcycling enthusiasts may not be able to make the judgment call that they aren’t well prepared to ride a bike at 18.

The result of wrapping our children in cotton wool may yet have unforeseen consequences for our community. But then again, government-led decisions almost always do.

Great! You’ve successfully signed up.

Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.

You've successfully subscribed to Confidential Daily.

Success! Check your email for magic link to sign-in.

Success! Your billing info has been updated.

Your billing was not updated.