As technology continues to revolutionize the auto industry, so, too, the future of motorcycles may look very different in a few decades than it does today. Safety improvements to cars and bikes alike may mean far fewer road deaths. Better safety measures could also spur increased ridership, opening up the world of biking to a greater segment of the population.

Reining in dangerous drivers

As bikers are aware, the greatest risk on the road comes from other drivers. They simply aren’t used to seeing – and reacting – to motorcycles.

Smart-car technologies, however, can change this dynamic. Collision avoidance systems mean that bikers’ safety will no longer depend on fallible human perception. Instead, the car’s sensors will detect the motorcycle’s presence and prevent the driver from veering too close.

Likewise, motorcycles will eventually be able to “communicate” with cars, warning them about their presence. As a result, the deadliest hazard for motorcycles – left-turning drivers – will no longer be a threat.

Motorcycles may become safer, too

BMW has already fleshed out a vision for the future of biking. Looking like something out of Tron, the new-fashioned bikes will offer numerous advantages, including:

  • Crash-resistant features such as sturdy yet lightweight aluminum and carbon-fiber frames
  • Automated self-balancing systems
  • Electric power, meaning zero emissions

Intelligent riding gear – such as digital visors in place of helmets – can give bikers a 360-degree perspective as well as visual warning signals for potential dangers.

Technological advances will someday create an “electronic safety cage” around motorcycles, foresees BMW’s head of development.

The benefits of biking are numerous: greater fuel economy, better maneuverability, less impact on the environment – not to mention the sheer enjoyment of it. At some point, those benefits may far outweigh the risks.