MRO: A STRATEGIC FRAMEWORK
Over the past several weeks, I have contributed to a flood of emails and forum postings on the subject of
the cause of 50% of all motorcycle accidents. I intend to say a lot more about "IB" in the future, but first
I thought it might be helpful to show where it fits in the overall MRO strategic framework. And in order to do
that, allow me to describe what I mean by a strategic framework for MROs (motorcyclists' rights organizations)
and other biker advocate groups:
MRO Strategic Framework: Click to Enlarge
I believe that MROs should exist to promote the interests and protect the rights of motorcyclists. To accomplish this mission,
their activities should be organized into four strategic arenas:
Member Acquisition and Retention
A high-level strategic framework identifying what I consider to be the primary objective, target audience, greatest
challenge, best strategy and worst strategy for each of these four arenas is presented in the following paragraphs:
Member Acquisition and Retention
An MRO is a group of people representing a group of people. Members are what gives an MRO its reasons to exist and
resources to operate. And like any political group in a democratic society, the broader the membership base, the more
political muscle the group is likely to muster, and the greater the political impact the group is likely to have.
Through member acquisition and retention, an MRO gathers human and financial resources which it can deploy in the
motorcycle safety, rights and awareness arenas. In order to do so, the MRO must "sell" its target
audience--motorcyclists--on the benefits it can deliver in exchange for the time, money and other political capital
When this selling effort fails or falls short of expectations, "rider apathy" is often cited as the cause of the
problem. This is arguably a false diagnosis, however, in that the most likely cause of any failed selling effort is
poor marketing strategy. For MROs, we believe that the best strategy for member acquisition and retention is to focus
on key issues that appeal to the broadest possible demographic base. The worst strategy is to focus on a
narrow demographic base, and concentrate on only those issues that appeal to them.
Food for thought: How do the demographics of your SMRO compare to the demographics of all motorcycle riders in your
state? What percentage of your membership are white male Harley riders age 45 or older? What is that same percentage
for all motorcycle riders statewide?
"Motorcycle safety" is a term best defined in context. Some see it as a cause, some sell it as a commodity, and many
view it as an oxymoron. In the context of our strategic framework, "motorcycle safety" is our name for the arena in
which MROs deploy resources aimed at saving lives and limbs through training, education and advocating responsible
The greatest challenge in this arena is found not behind a wheel, but inside a bottle: Substance abuse, specifically
alcohol, is a factor in 50% of all motorcycle fatalities.
If "friends don't let friends drive drunk", then maybe they shouldn't let them ride that way either. Rider training
programs can impact this issue, and helmets and other protective gear can reduce the casualties, but aggressively
advocating responsible riding is crucial. Tolerating substance abuse will merely perpetuate the fatal
Food for thought: Are we not our own worst enemies? Can we realistically expect cagers to show more respect for
bikers' lives, when so often we show none for our own?
When we say MROs should protect our rights, we of course refer to more than just our right to life. We also mean
preserving the motorcycle riding lifestyle and our "freedom of the road".
The greatest threat in this arena is mandatory helmet laws. Why? Well certainly not because helmets are unsafe.
Wearing a helmet increases the safety of a motorcycle rider. Period. Thinking otherwise is about as dumb as taking
a knife to a gunfight. The threat is that if we give in on mandatory helmet usage in the name of saving lives, some
NHTSA numbskull may propose we can save even more lives by banning motorcycles altogether. And there will end our
I believe the strongest position to take in this seemingly never-ending battle is that mandatory helmet laws are
discriminatory unless they are applied to ALL motor vehicle operators, biker and cager alike. The weakest position
is any argument that places this issue in the safety arena rather than the rights arena.
Food for thought: How long do you think mandatory helmet laws would stay on the books if the legislators' wives had to strap on a Shoei each time they drove home from the beauty parlor?
In our strategic framework, "motorcycle awareness" constitutes the best and highest use of MRO resources. Here is where
we go on the offensive, promoting motorcyclists rights and safety through political and social action (p.c., or not)
geared at changing cagers' expectations and behavior. Here is where we take the high ground, and the fight is
according to our rules.
The greatest challenge in this arena is the greatest challenge facing MROs and motorcyclists everywhere:
"IB" is the cause of 50% of ALL motorcycle accidents, which makes it the single largest cause of motorcycle
accidents. Consequently, it stands to reason that if we want to reduce the number of motorcycle accidents, the most
important thing we can do is MITIGATE INATTENTIONAL BLINDNESS.
And how do we do that?
Well contrary to what the NHTSA Safety Nazis want us to believe, IB is not just about conspicuity, and it cannot be
mitigated simply by donning neon-colored clown suits and putting disco flicker lights all over our bikes. Conspicuity
is only one of four factors contributing to inattentional blindness, and it's not even the one we should be focusing
on. The research indicates that our focus should be expectation. Specifically, if we want to save bikers' lives by
mitigating inattentional blindness, we must INCREASE THE EXPECTATION OF RISK, HARM OR LOSS ASSOCIATED WITH "NOT SEEING"
A MOTORCYCLE AND CONSEQUENTLY MAIMING OR KILLING A BIKER.
There are many ways to go about this, but as we learned from the failure of Florida's Stiffer Penalties Law, one approach
that is NOT likely to significantly increase this expectation is non-specific ROW violation penalties. In the context
of mitigating inattentional blindness, that is fighting the wrong battle. Here is why:
and Severe Penalties Offer A Cure For Inattentional Blindness
In other words, by forming ROW coalitions with bicyclists, pedestrians, crossing guards, mothers with strollers and
crippled nuns, we may morally be doing the greater good and guaranteeing ourselves a place in Heaven ... but we aren't
necessarily doing anything to keep a biker from getting There sooner than he or she planned.
Food for thought:
For more ideas on effective motorcycle awareness measures, read the position paper submitted by "Madd Ray" Henke of
Motorcyclists Against Dumb Drivers
to the Motorcycle Safety Awareness Symposium (May 19 2006, Orlando Florida):
Download This Framework
This MRO Strategic Framework can be downloaded in Microsoft Excel format here:
Feel free to add to it or edit it as you like. Hopefully, some of you will be able to put it to good use.
If nothing else, at least we've given you something to think about.
Until Next Time ... Ride Long, Ride Free!
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