I got an email asking if I thought riding a motorcycle in El Paso was safe.  My answer is a little long but, please read it and then .. riders and drivers alike .. rate my answer!

Here's what Alfonso wrote:

Hey Glen, I hope all is well.    I believe you ride a motorcycle, so I wanted to get your thoughts. I’m considering buying a bike in the next few months, however, I’ve heard of many fatal accidents in El Paso recently and I’m starting to reconsider.   

What are your thoughts, do you think it's safe to ride around here? Are the crashes more from lack of experience or speed on the rider? I’m looking at a cruiser, not a crotch rocket if it makes any difference.

Thanks in advance,


Photo, Getty Images

Here is my answer:

Hi Alfonso!!

That’s a tough question to answer in a simple yes or no fashion.  There have been a number of accidents lately but, I would have to say the rider was at fault in quite a few of them. Speed and alcohol being the primary causes.

First, speed. Even professional riders go down during organized racing events so, what makes the average guy on the street think he can successfully navigate I-10 or Trans Mountain (or any other road) in traffic at some over the top speed is beyond me. It’s stupid. Plus, riding is all about the ride anyway, so why would you want to be in a hurry to get it over with?

Alcohol needs no explanation.

Take your time and watch your drinking. You just doubled, or even tripled, your odds of being ok.

Now, on to the other half (more than half actually) of the problem, Driver inattention.

It's bad around here. Real bad. Fortunately though, our traffic congestion and roadways are … believe it or not … better than many other cities. We are a big city, but we don’t have big city traffic issues. The roads aren’t typically jammed up, (outside rush hour) weather isn’t typically bad and your visibility is awesome.  (Unless it’s raining, snowing or blowing tons of dust.  In that case, you may not want to be riding anyway!)

The drivers though, are horrible. Ladies are putting on makeup, the guys are speeding and trying to flip each other off, the “kids” are inexperienced and everybody is on the damn phone.  Easily the final shot in the “hat trick” of riding around El Chuco.

You have to ride as though they (the cars) are deliberately trying to hit you. You’re smaller and easily overlooked, especially since they’re not paying attention. Even when they’re really trying to, the distractions are incredible. (The kids are fighting, they’re trying to remember what they needed to pick up on the way home, the Miners just scored, etc, etc.)

Let’s not forget the drivers from Juarez. Some aren’t as aware of our laws and customs as they should be and some just plain suck as drivers.

You are the last thing on any of their minds!

Honestly, I’d feel bad if I tried to make you think that it’s a piece of cake to ride around El Paso but, I don’t want to dissuade you from doing it either.  I don’t take the subject lightly, having been in an accident that damn near killed me, having had friends injured and a couple of them killed on bikes. (Only one was killed here in El Paso for whatever that’s worth.)

When you factor out the speed and alcohol factor, it really is down to just the cars and if YOU pay attention to them (and keep your wits about you), I honestly think you’ll be ok.

So, after all that, here’s the bottom line. I think El Paso is probably one of the safer cities in Texas … of our size and population … to ride in. The weather, the roads and your own self control are all in your favor. (I did not say "safe" mind you, I said saf-ER. Get me?)

Buy that bike and get in the wind brother, the odds are as with you around here as they ever will be.

Have fun and ride safe!!  To laern more about area runs and biker events, visit the EP Motorcycle Coalition facebook page.  (And listen to me on the Q!!)

PS: Check your bike often!! Don’t take all this into account, observe every precaution and wear all the proper gear just to wipe out because you didn’t tighten your spokes or maintain your brake system! :)

Photo, getty Images
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