Business Owner combats critics by promoting bike safety
With the rising surge in road fatalities caused by motor vehicle crashes, Superior Parts owner Derrick Johnson has decided to provide some solutions by stocking up on more safety equipment for the holidays.
Superior Parts is the dealership for the popular Zamco, Zhujaing, and Yeng Yeng bikes, which are very popular among grass-roots communities for their economic price. Many of these Chinese-made bikes can be bought for as little as $130,000, in comparison to the more high-end Japanese brands like Honda and Kawasaki, which usually start north of $500,000.
The Yeng Yeng was the main subject matter in dancehall artiste Ding Dong's hit song Yeng Yeng, which has garnered more than a million views on YouTube. The bike's influence has also got international recognition as the Zamco was used in Jay Z's and BeyoncÈ's promotional video, which was shot in Kingston last year.
Because these bikes are so affordable, many persons believe that those who own them generally tend to be reckless and uncouth. However, Johnson does not share that sentiment as he believes that these bikes have provided many low-income persons with the opportunity to own a bike to help them make a living.
"When you look at the fuel efficiency of these bikes, a person can buy $1,000 worth of gas and it will last for more than a week. Some of my customers are vendors who sell bag juice and other snacks. When they are finished selling at one spot, they ride to the next spot. I even have gardeners who ride my bikes and use them to carry their weedwackers around," shared Johnson.
While there is no denying the economic empowerment that these bikes can bring to persons who use them constructively, there is also the issue of riders not using the proper safety equipment. Throughout the streets, many riders of both Japan and Chinese-made bikes can be seen without helmets and proper protective gears.
"I must admit that this is an issue in our country. I think the police have to start punishing persons who breach the law. But until that is implemented properly, the only thing we can do now is encourage riders to wear their gears. Right now, I have doubled my supply of helmets for the season, plus I have cut my profit margin significantly to make them as affordable as possible," said Johnson.
All hands needed
Last year, there was a major corporate push to promote the use of safety equipment among riders, with Red Strip and Carreras Ltd being two of the main players in the initiative. The former used its Drink Right campaign to host an event, Roll Out, which was geared at promoting road safety among motorcyclists.
Johnson believes that more events like these, along with greater collaboration with the various biking communities can increase safety measures among motorcyclists.
"It's not just on the dealers to promote safety among riders; all the major stakeholders have to be involved. We have to work more with the National Road Safety Unit to do some more TV ads as well as social media exposure. There are also exciting workshops that we can develop like the Back-to-Basic initiative, which trains riders to get their motorbike license and not ride on their learners," says Johnson.