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While riding south along the Alaska Highway in the Summer of 2010, through the town of Haines Junction, YT, I found a number of businesses displaying orange- colored ‟Motorcycle Friendly” signs.
The fact that all these signs were of the same size, color, and design had me intrigued. Was there some kind of organization in the Territorial government of Yukon rating every business to determine how receptive they were to motorcycle riders? Was there some kind of effort among local businesses to turn Haines Junction into a biker mecca?
The term ‟motorcycle friendly” and ‟biker friendly” had always been a source of irony for me, providing me with miles of thought-provoking conundrum as I continued along on my 25+ years of riding.
Technically speaking, aren't all establishments ‟biker friendly”? That is, don't they all want my money as much as anyone else's?
So far in my motorcycling life, I've walked into all sorts of hotels, restaurants, bars, coffee shops and markets, and have yet to find a proprietor who had an issue with my choice of transportation.
I noticed a FasGas station that had displayed one of these orange signs, and decided to inquire. I walked up to the counter, pulled out my wallet, and handed my credit card to the attendant.
‟I noticed a lot of businesses with that Motorcycle Friendly sign”, I said to the guy.
‟Yeah, they're all over”, he answered.
‟Where do they come from?” I asked.
‟The HOG chapter in Whitehorse”, was his response.
It turns out the Yukon HOG chapter does an annual rally, which includes a ride across the Territory. They produce a map with a list of places displaying these orange signs, and encourage riders to patronize these businesses only.
They had visited every business in Whitehorse and Haines Junction, and made them pay money for the privilege of getting one of these signs.
‟Actually, I don't really care if someone rides a motorcycle or not, it's all the same money to me”, the attendant went on to say. ‟But it brings in a lot of business during the rally”.
I guess even way up in the Great White North, extortion is alive and well.
After filling up my tank and riding out of the station, it seemed to me the attendant wasn't any more or less friendly than the other gas station attendants I met throughout Yukon.
I suppose in a way, I could've felt cheated in that he didn't give me any extra helping of warm and fuzzy goodness for riding a motorcycle. I mean, I could have compared prices at other gas stations and saved a little bit. But, maybe seeing that sign made me want to pay a little bit more just to get a little better service?
Nah! I've been to enough gas stations to know better.
Somehow it seems crazy that a certain percentage of motorcycle riders would feel so much more comforted visiting an establishment displaying a ‟Motorcycle Friendly” placard. It makes me wonder if it's riders like these who empower groups and businesses to create a cottage industry capitalizing on biker insecurity.
Do motorcyclists feel any less welcomed when they patronize businesses that don't display these signs?
If I were to assume that necessity is the mother of invention, then that would imply there have indeed been cases where motorcyclists have been discriminated against. If you run a Google search on ‟motorcycle discriminationâ€you'll find story after story of riders proclaiming to have been singled out just for being on a motorcycle. And not to argue against them, I'm sure they are genuine with their perspectives.
But, how friendly do we expect proprietors to be when there are so many ‟weekend posers” sucking off the 1%er lifestyle walking into businesses with a cavalier attitude?
And hasn't everyone encountered discrimination of some sort, regardless of what vehicle they operate? Whether it's skin color, religion, political belief, sexual orientation, age, nationality, hasn't everyone felt singled out?
Do riders really think that by limiting their expenditures on businesses advertising ‟motorcycle friendly”, that they're getting the last laugh over establishments who've wronged them in the past?
Whatever the case, it seems the concept of ‟biker friendly” establishments is a commentary on the psychology of motorcyclists themselves.
There's an old saying, ‟You get what you give”, meaning if you're friendly to others, others will be friendly to you.