Ride of the 100 Myrtle Beach SC

Live Free or Die, Fred

April 2006

On Tuesday, March 14 2006, Miami-Herald columnist Fred Grimm (fgrimm@MiamiHerald.com) published a slanderous attack on bikers everywhere. I encourage every self-respecting American motorcyclist to read it and respond … not just by emailing Fred … but by emailing his editor as well (HeraldEd@herald.com):


Here is my response, point by point:

Fred Grimm said:

This year’s edition of that raucous good time called Bike Week racked up 18 deaths.

Eighteen deaths would represent a particularly gruesome week for the U.S. military. Last week, as the fun was unfolding in Daytona Beach, a total of seven soldiers were killed in Iraq.

Eighteen deaths in another sort of festival might raise serious questions about the wisdom of promoting an annual outbreak of utter mayhem. Imagine the pall that 18 corpses might cast over the Fort Myers Beach Shrimp Festival, the Bonita Spring Art Festival, the Arcadia Rodeo or Jacksonville’s All-Florida Championship Cheerleading Challenge. All of these events managed to make it through this past weekend without a related death.

Thousands of revelers danced down Calle Ocho in Miami without inflicting fatal injuries on one another.

IronBoltBruce says:

The death toll for Bike Week is now 20, not 18. Updated statistics are available here:


And on average, Fred, EVERY week in Florida 68 people are slaughtered on our highways while another 16 are murdered, 130 are raped, 544 are robbed and 1,575 are assaulted. I’d say that–outside of Iraq, of course–the saddle of my Harley seems like a relatively safe place to be!

Click to access 2005SA_CIF.pdf

Fred Grimm said:

In Iraq, of course, well-armed insurgents are bent on killing American soldiers. In Daytona, attendees at America’s deadliest jamboree mostly do it to themselves.

IronBoltBruce says:

Not true, Fred. Ten of the riders who died during Bike Week were killed by careless cagers, many if not most of whom will literally get away with murder for the price of a traffic ticket.

Fred Grimm said:

In Florida, however, biker deaths are recorded on a different ledger. Since the Florida law requiring motorcycle riders to wear crash helmets was repealed in 2000, the official position has been that the 81 percent increase in biker deaths has been a meaningless statistical aberration which should have no bearing on public policy.

IronBoltBruce says:

I agree with your implication here, Fred. Bikers and cagers should NOT be on different ledgers when it comes to the additional safety afforded by helmets. As wearing a helmet purportedly increases the safety of ANY motor vehicle operator or passenger, perhaps our public policy should mandate that ALL motor vehicle operators and passengers wear them!

Which lid will you choose, Fred? Bell? Shoei? A beanie, full coverage, or something in between? And let me know if your wife or girlfriend wants a “Hairdo by Helmet” sticker for hers!

Fred Grimm said:

Anti-helmet law activists maintain that the numbers have been skewed anyway by a conspiracy of trauma docs and insurance companies and medical examiners and highway safety busybodies and hospital bean counters and know-it-all editorial writers — none of whom appreciate the joy of wind in the hair and asphalt in the frontal lobe. The initial reports out of Daytona Beach indicate that at least 12 of the 18 bikers killed during Bike Week were riding bareheaded when they crashed.

IronBoltBruce says:

Actually, Fred, 6 of the 10 bikers murdered by cagers during Daytona Bike Week WERE wearing helmets … and died anyway.

Fred Grimm said:

Yes, but weren’t they exercising their God-given American right to crack unprotected skulls into any roadside attraction of their choosing? Which ought to be fine, as long as bikers then have the good manners to succumb. It’s those who insist on lingering around hospital trauma centers whose personal freedoms intrude on the

By last week, midway through Bike Week, 34 bikers had been admitted to Halifax Medical Center in Daytona Beach. Halifax spokeswoman Kate Holcomb said 15 of those were housed in the trauma wards with severe injuries, running up prodigious medical bills. She said the hospital would need another day to total up biker admissions from Wednesday to Sunday.

Last year, 60 easy riders were admitted to Halifax with serious injuries during Bike Week. In 2004, the number was 78. The hospital has complained for years that few of the motorcyclists hauled into their trauma ward have bothered with a state requirement that anyone riding without a helmet purchase a $10,000 personal-injury policy. Although, as Holcomb noted Monday, “That would barely pay for their helicopter ride to the hospital.”

The costs of treating uninsured and underinsured bikers has risen from $20 million a year in 2000 to $50 million last year — a big chunk of that money going to treat head trauma victims.

IronBoltBruce says:

I believe you are bastardizing a couple of figures taken from this NHTSA report:


The numbers refer to two 30-month periods (1/98 to 6/00, and 7/00 to 12/02), Fred, not to the two years 2000 and 2005. That’s an easy mistake to make for someone who doesn’t read past the headlines, but as a “professional” journalist, YOU should be held to a higher standard.

Nevertheless, Americans spend about $2 trillion a year on healthcare, Fred, which makes the $50 million you refer to statistically insignificant (0.0025%). Over 46 million Americans have no health insurance, Fred, and with annual per capita healthcare expenditures averaging $6,000, that exposes the “commonwealth” to a potential burden of $276 billion. If you are seriously interested in reducing the public’s healthcare costs, Fred, why don’t you tackle THAT problem?


Fred Grimm said:

But no one expects the Florida Legislature to resurrect the mandatory helmet law. Polls indicate that 80 percent of the general public would support a helmet law. No matter. Lawmakers don’t dare stir up the biker lobby, which can summon 30,000 unmuffled hogs to come roaring into Tallahassee and stage a fearsome rolling demonstration of middle-aged pseudo outlaws on Harleys.

They disguise their paunches under black leather vests with bold inscriptions: LIVE FREE OR DIE (or maybe convalesce at the public expense). Besides, so many bareheaded riders would likely rack up another big death toll.

IronBoltBruce says:

Wrong again, Fred. The most recent Florida public opinion poll I’ve seen indicated that 68% of those surveyed were AGAINST a mandatory helmet law:


And if you have a problem with people hiding their paunches, Fred, then why don’t you go after the cosmetic surgeons and their portly patients? That way, you’ll be keeping it real and cutting healthcare costs at the same time!

And if you have a problem with “LIVE FREE OR DIE”, Fred, then I have a problem with YOU living in a nation that was founded on that principle.

Until Next Time … Ride Long, Ride Free!