Stereotypes not included

A leather jacket, boots and definitely facial hair — this is the standard I expected when approaching ASU motorcyclists.

Instead a collared shirt, a friendly smile and a firm handshake greeted me. Jose Uriarte, an ROTC Marine and criminal justice major planning to graduate in December, both acknowledged and refuted my original stereotype.

In the last year, he switched from a gas-guzzling V8 Mustang to a Ninja 650. This brought him from 13 mpg to nearly 60 mpg. With $10, Uriarte can keep his gas tank full for two weeks. Not only can a tank of gas get him farther, but it can also get him places faster.

Because a bike is smaller and can fit in spaces that wouldn’t necessarily be safe for a car to slide into, he says he never has to be late to class because of traffic. The benefits of riding a motorcycle continue all the way to the parking space. "There’s always a parking space in the parking garage or around the city,” Uriarte says. 

Johnathan Huey, ROTC and construction management freshman, explains that he plans to trade in his Honda Civic for a Ninja as well.

“Motorcycle surface parking costs $280 a year, and surface and structure parking costs $480,” Huey says.

While cars can park uncovered in Lot 59 for $280, motorcyclists can park in any uncovered, motorcycle-designated parking space on campus for the same price. For students who park their car in Lot 59, they might have a 15-minute walk ahead of them to get to class. Motorcyclists can find parking space in lots all over campus within mere steps of their class.

David Present, a graduate student and fellow motorcyclist, agrees that cost, convenience and enjoyment are his main reasons for riding his green Ninja to school in place of a car.

“I park for about $200 in the same garage where it costs a car $800,” he says. Present first bought his bike to efficiently navigate through the sluggish Los Angeles highways. While cars would barely break 10 mph, Present could move down the HOV lane at a solid 60 mph. After moving out to ASU, the cost and time efficiency has put any alternative mode of transportation out of the question.

Unfortunately, all of these benefits and savings come at a price.

“We’re seen as douchey,” Uriarte says.

However, such a trite social stigma may be just as accurate as the expectation of a leather jacket and facial hair.

“Yes, we weave in and out of traffic,” Uriarte concedes.

However, weaving in and out of the lanes may actually be for his own safety. He explains that most motorcyclists switch lanes to avoid being trapped in tight spots between cars. While the average weight of a motorcycle doesn’t even break 500 pounds, getting trapped between several two-ton engines driving 75 mph on the highway is definitely a situation any motorcyclist should avoid, according to sportrider.com.

To protect himself from these tight situations, Uriarte always wears a helmet and jeans “at minimum.” On long rides, he adds gloves and a jacket.

However, safety goes beyond the gear. Just as cars must drive defensively to protect themselves against other drivers, motorcyclists must keep an even higher level of awareness because of their open exposure to the elements of the road. As long as safety remains a priority, students say owning a bike offers incredible cost and enjoyment benefits.

Reach the writer at txashleyaz@gmail.com.


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