How Motorcyclists Can Make a Difference in Their Community

It's time to do good! 5 charity rides to know about.

Scared witless by the five thunderous cruisers overtaking him startlingly too close, Eugene yelled in the safety of his cage, “I hate motorcycles.” Little did he know that the five riders were going home from a charity ride and had raised thousands of dollars for an organization he, ironically, also supports.

What upset Eugene may not have been illegal, but it still supported his negative view of motorcyclists. 

He may have been suffering from a thinking trap called Confirmation Bias, a tendency for a person to interpret new information in such a way as to support their preconceived viewpoint and to discount any new data that doesn’t. When these motorcyclists roared past Eugene, it confirmed to him that riders are a bunch of law-flouting hooligans who have no decorum when it comes to other road users. Rightly or wrongly, that is the impression he gets regularly reinforced. 

Angry Eugene also supports Dog Guides of Canada, perhaps? 

Although fictitious, this scenario demonstrates how the good we do can be overshadowed by how we behave and ride.

The Good: Riding to Make a Difference

Who rides? You and I ride. Your next-door neighbour rides. Your colleague at work rides. Your siblings, your Dad, and your Mom ride. Your children ride. And they support many great charities and causes through rides, rallies, special events and activities. The good news? Motorcyclists make a difference. 

Here are just a few causes, charities, and events that are supported by motorcyclists.

  • The annual motorcycle Ride for SickKids: For fourteen years, thousands of riders have thrown a leg over their saddle, asked their partner to hop on the pillion, and have ridden to raise money for SickKids Hospital, ranked the number one children's hospital in the world in a Newsweek article entitled World's Best Specialized Hospitals.
  • B.A.C.A. & Guardians of Children: These motorcycle organizations support and protect the victims of child abuse and help them feel empowered to live free of fear. They do this by making the children feel a part of a broader community looking out for them.
  • Annual Ride for Sight: For 44 years, the Annual Ride for Sight has focused on raising funds to cure blindness. Riders from every part of Canada have helped raise over $26 million dollars for vision research.
  • Ride for Guide Dogs: Started in 2009 by the Saltwater Retreads and the Enfield/Elmsdale Lions Club in Nova Scotia, the annual ride supports the seven guide dog programs at the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides.
  • The Distinguished Gentlemen’s Ride: This ride raises funds for research into issues that affect men's health and well-being. They include prostate cancer, mental health, and suicide prevention programs.

Ride for Dog Guides is a great way for ruff-riders to give back. 

Every year, when I visit the annual pre-season motorcycle shows, there are many booths promoting rides to raise money for various charities and causes much lesser known than the big, branded charities like SickKids and Prostrate Cancer.

What does this all add up to? Motorcyclists jump in to help. Motorcyclists make a difference. And, motorcyclists are amazingly generous.

The Bad: Moto Charity Events Aren't Well Known Outside the community

The charity-focused efforts of motorcyclists often fail to come to the attention of the non-riding community. Unless someone knows a participating rider or sees a group of motorcycles and enquires what they’re doing, they have no way of knowing we're making a positive impact on the community.

But that's OK. Motorcyclists happily and unostentatiously go about their business doing good for the community without hullabaloo. The joy of riding, making a difference, and the rider camaraderie we share is enough.

But, that means that the only impression of motorcyclists other road users do get comes from what they witness, which isn't always stellar riding or behaviour. 

When Eugene sees a motorcyclist illegally lane-splitting or racing past him up the shoulder as he sits in bumper-to-bumper traffic, it’s evidence to support his negative view of motorcyclists. He has no way of knowing about the great charity work motorcyclists do. 

And that’s the bad news.

The Ugly: one careless rider can spoil it for the rest of us

Motorcyclists create the impression held by the wider community, good or bad. That's the ugly fact of the matter.

The Answer

Since people do not generally hear about our goodwill efforts, they are left to create an impression of motorcyclists based on their experience. When we ride without due consideration for other road users or the community, we tarnish motorcycling's reputation. It hurts us all. 

Motorcycling for the greater good of the community is about participating in causes and raising money for charity. 

But there is another aspect that we need to keep top of mind. Motorcycling for the greater good is also about presenting ourselves—the way we act, the way we dress, the way we ride—in such a way as to improve the image of motorcycling overall. To this end, every rider can make a positive impact. 

I believe roads are safer when car drivers and motorcyclists respect one another. So, when you head out for a ride, remember that we not only have to continue making a difference to the community in our charity efforts, but we also have to make a difference for the greater good of the motorcycling community by fostering a bridge between riders and non-riders and developing a mutual respect with all road users.

About John Lewis

John Lewis loves telling stories that inform, inspire, and entertain. He writes about motorcycle touring, motorcycle safety, culture, travel, and more. His work has appeared in a number of national magazines including Motorcycle Mojo and The Motorcycle Times, as well as many blogs and websites.

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