Is this because riding a motorcycle is more dangerous or because people who like driving fast and taking risks are more likely to have a motorcycle than people who aren't?
Ie, if you ride a motorcycle sensibly, is it really that much more dangerous than driving a car sensibly? I suspect it is always going to be higher because you've got less protection when you do crash, but still, it can't be that much higher...
Given equal sensibility, a car is safer than a motorcycle. A car can take getting hit by a drunk driver or wildlife (they fucking jump out of nowhere), a motorcycle can't. I follow the writings of one particular rock drummer who travels extensively by motorcycle, especially on tour, and he wrote--referencing another prominent motorcyclist, who wrote for motorcycling magazines and was at the time recently killed by a deer collision--that the one danger a skilled motorcyclist can never fully mitigate is wildlife. Deer kill plenty of people in cars, too, but you have a better chance surviving having a deer jump on top of your car as opposed to your motorcycle.
(I read once that deer kill more people in North America than any other animal.)
I'd be interested to see the motorcycle accident/fatality rate controlled for rider demographics, using car accidents as the control. I bet the difference is much less than commonly indicated.
I think the risk is very controllable. It's also a "dose is the poison" kind of thing. I only average about one fairly local ride a week. I am quite sure I am safer than people who drive on highways every day.
The danger depends heavily on the driving environment. Suburbia and semi-rural areas are rather dangerous because you get a mix of fairly high speeds and many space cadet drivers (grandma, 16 year olds): the kind of people who back out of driveways without looking. In this particular urban area those risks aren't present. It's pretty safe 50mph free-way sprints and then stop & go in a grid system.
I did a few days' worth of online research on motorcycles when I was in my "hey, let's get a scooter" phase.
Statistics show that you are dramatically safer on a motorcycle if you take a safety course before you ride at all. Start with a safety course. It teaches you all the nonintuitive things that you need to know.
You are also safer if you dress properly.
Once you've done that, the primary danger is other people. You will motorcycle happily until the day that a driver who is making a left turn fails to notice you approaching (you are small relative to a car, and more difficult to see) and pulls out in front of you, too close for you to stop. Then you are going to dump the bike and/or go flying, because you have no airbags or crumpling metal to help stop you. This will happen sooner or later. There is very little you can do about this, except to do everything you can to enhance your visibility, and to ride very slowly, which can be difficult -- according to many cyclists, once you're on the thing and feeling comfortable you will speed up, perhaps even unconsciously. ;)
Obviously, deer are even worse at noticing you than humans. I hit a deer in my car once. It was traumatic enough in a four-wheeled vehicle.
No motorcycles for me, I'm afraid. The risk/benefit ratio is too high for my personality.
Since you mentioned scooters, I tend to rent those regularly on vacations, for those considering one make sure you get one with large diameter wheels ( ex. http://vtwincyclemotorcyclescooter.com/wp-content/uploads/20... ) rather than something like a vespa. You only sacrifice a little bit of agility for a big boost in safety.
I am guessing it's because motorcycles are capable of going faster, accelerating quicker, so people go faster on them and tend to drive more aggressively.
I'd say, at the same speeds, a motorcyclist is much more likely to be injured than a driver. In one case, the car is the crumple zone, in the other the motorcyclist's body is the crumple zone.