From June 22nd through July 27th there will be a SIGNIFICANT increase (thousands) of motorcycles on the roads and motorcyclists visiting the state, attending various rallies and riding the famed Oregon highways.
Yeah, those roads. The ones with bumps, holes, cracks and gravel bits peppering riders. And don’t forget the lane ridges and rises. Or the grooved surfaces and mix-matched joints on bridges. Even the best roads in Oregon have imperfections that a motorist may not feel, but to a motorcyclist these seemingly simple hazards can be dangerous or life threatening. If you’ve traveled Highway 217 in the last 6-weeks you can instantly relate. Vehicles bounce and weave around like they are doing the “NASCAR bump.”
But, road conditions are the least of the concerns. If you’ve driven any local freeway lately you’ve likely notice numerous examples of drivers who are distracted – texting, using cell phones, eating/drinking, talking to passengers, grooming or adjusting the car stereo bass knob. These are not infrequent occurrences or isolated incidents. Distracted driving is commonplace in Oregon!
When drivers are not giving 100% of their faculties or attention to the roadways while operating motor vehicles along with thousands of additional motorcycles/motorcyclists on the road – a perfect storm of circumstances for injuries or fatalities exist.
It’s been a while since there have been so many Oregon events all packed into the same date range. The specific events I’m referring to are:
Harley-Davidson World Ride – Everywhere – June 23-24 – Attendee estimates are 1000+ of motorcyclists state-wide
Hells Canyon Motorcycle Rally – Baker City, OR – July 12-15 – Attendee estimates are 1000+ motorcyclists traveling east
Good Vibrations – Salem, OR – July 12-14 – Attendee estimates are 1000+ of motorcyclists in Salem/Keizer area
BMW MOA International Rally – Salem, OR – July 18-21 – Attendee estimates are 5500+ motorcyclists in Salem and surrounding area
Run 21 Rally – Tygh Valley – July 19-21 – Attendee estimates are 500+ motorcyclists
Oregon HOG Rally – Riding The Wild West – Pendleton, OR – July 25-27 – Attendee estimates are 1000+ of motorcyclists traveling east
Most all of these events have an implied or are specifically being advertised as a celebratory rally and a huge party. Nobody is supposed to talk about this, but it doesn’t help to avoid it when we know that “bottles to throttle” don’t mix.
Accidents will happen on roadways. But the likelihood that they will occur shouldn’t be increased by vehicle distracted driving, motorcyclists misjudgments or funding to make the roadways safer for motorcycles.
I’ll get to the point and off my soap box.
If you are an automobile driver then you have a duty to put down the cell phone (one in every 10 fatalities on the road is distraction-affected crashes), set the radio or apply cosmetics in the driveway and keep an eye out for motorcyclists during this high traffic period.
If you’re one of the thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts visiting or attending an Oregon rally – a hearty welcome to our great state – but, you have a duty to ride sober and with the utmost care. Travel safe.
Photos taken by author.