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2015 Sturgis Rally Stats

2015 Sturgis Rally Stats

Stat pushers.

Not a day goes by that we’re not confronted with or overwhelmed with statistics or key metrics and the 75th Sturgis Rally is no exception.

But, what’s the one item we didn’t see at Sturgis this year?  Nada.  Not one.  Tickets issued for ape-hangers!  Thank South Dakota ABATE.

Starting July 1st, there are no longer regulations about where to hang your hands!  Ape-hangers are now legal in South Dakota and the $20 fine for riding with your hands too high was wiped off the books as governor Dennis Daugaard signed Senate Bill 85, effectively abolishing South Dakota law that prohibited such handlebars.

In previous years it was a petty offense in South Dakota if you rode a motorcycle on a public street or highway with the handlebar grips positioned at or above shoulder height.  For law enforcement it was almost an automatic excuse to pull over a motorcyclist.

sturgis_infographic_2_0And then there were the daily public safety reports.  The number of people in attendance, the number of vendor permits, the tons of garbage recycled, the number of arrests, the number of accidents, the number of DUI’s and the motorcycle deaths.  An endless parade of daily stats.  Some of it confusing as the stats didn’t match day-to-day in the media given the spaghetti architecture that makes up the western South Dakota tracking system.

Maybe the City of Sturgis can contract with Booz Allen who recently won the healthcare.gov contract to coordinate and manage the various agency’s reporting data.  How about an infographic at the conclusion of the event so that we can all tweet and share on social media!

It turns out that in previous years, the State Police counted arrests and traffic crashes in and near Sturgis, as well as in the Rapid City Patrol district which is most of western South Dakota, beginning the Saturday before the Rally’s official start on Monday and going through early Sunday morning, on the final day.

That made for eight days of data.

However, this year because it was the 75th anniversary, the Patrol began counting on Tuesday, July 28. So the totals reported each day for DUI arrests and injury accidents didn’t compare exactly, with previous years’ reporting.  They release a special comparative statistics for Saturday Aug. 1 through Saturday Aug. 8, – actually until 6 a.m. Sunday – to compare with previous years.

That means instead of 220 DUI arrests this year as previously reported, the eight-day total was 195 DUI arrests for the Rapid City district, which includes Sturgis and most of western South Dakota.  Even the Puddle of Mudd singer (Wes Scantlin) was charged with DUI.  City managers can now point to the report and state that stats were well below the 244 DUI arrests related to the Sturgis rally last year for the same eight days.

Felony drug arrests this year were at 80 during the eight days, compared with 90 for the same period in 2014. The 12-day total previously reported was 99 felony drug arrests this year, if counted from July 28.  But who’s counting?

Sadly, the traffic fatalities remain well above last year independent of which metric (8 day vs. 12 day period) used.  The total of 12 this year for the eight days; previously the Patrol had been reporting 13 fatalities connected to the Sturgis rally this year, counting from July 28.

Why?  More people, more crashes seems to be the prevailing answer.  That answer seems too simplistic and certainly doesn’t root cause how to have a fatality-free rally.

The Department of Transportation counted vehicles entering Sturgis, as it has been done since 1990.  Final numbers weren’t available, but is projected to be in the 500,000 and 600,000 range.  More than the previous two years, but not as many as the record year of 2000.

Harley-Davidson motorcycles dominate the rally, but was a lot of other breaking news this year.  For example, the underwear world record attempt, failed.  Given all these side shows being reported by the media, the opening of an Indian Dealer in Sturgis and lots of foreign motorcycles in attendance the Harley dominance might be reduced.

Photo courtesy of South Dakota State News  |  Infographic courtesy of Lancetdatasciences.com 

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Sturgis-SuveyThe results are in from a survey which the City of Sturgis commissioned during the 2013 rally.

The survey teams circulated at Loud American Inn, Knuckle Saloon and Easy Riders Saloon.  Some of the information is pretty much what you’d expect,  but there were some findings that were not obvious. Here are some of the findings:

  • The age breakdown was 40% of rallygoers are between the ages of 54 and 65, and 36% fall into the 41 to 53 age range
  • 9% of rally registrants said they were over 66 years old — up from 2 percent in 2004
  • 56% of rally attendees are male and 44% female
  • 25% have taken some college courses; 19% have an Associates or vocational degree and 18% of those surveyed have a Bachelors degree
  • Majority came to the rally on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle
  • Have a household income of more than $75,000
  • More than 25% planned to stay for eight days or more.  The next highest numbers were four days and seven days.
  • More than 20% of respondents came from western states (i.e., states located west of the Mississippi River); about 20% came from east of the Mississippi River. About 6% are not from the U.S.
  • Most tend to travel to the rally on a motorcycle, though a significant percentage travel in an automobile or truck. About 50% come to the rally on their motorcycle and about 37% said they travel by car or truck.

The full survey findings can be found HERE.

Photo courtesy of City of Sturgis

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I don’t know about you, but I’ve yet to finalize all my ride plans for this summer.  However, I do know where I’ll be riding in August 2013.

Huh?

That’s right it’s more than a year away, but I’ve started making plans to attend the 110th Harley-Davidson Anniversary celebration in Milwaukee which kicks off on August 29, 2013!  It’s also the H.O.G. 3oth Anniversary celebration.

Back in 2008 the event was called the “The Ride Home” for the 105th Anniversary celebration and in my view was an incredible event which was topped off by the Springsteen concert.  It was a breath of fresh air riding out to this event compared to the typical west coast venues our posse attends.  The celebration was awesome and Harley-Davidson scored big in my book.  Most important was the terrific city and all the Milwaukeeans who welcomed us riders with open arms.

It turns out that H.O.G. members got a jump on the process this past week to make hotel reservations, but it all opens up to the public today so if you’re interested get on the web site and check it out.

If you’re looking to get a feel for the ride out to the celebration you can view my 105th Anniversary posts HERE where we started out on the journey.  If you’re looking for a view of just the celebration then start at this post HERE where we kicked off the event or if you want more detail about Knucklefest then go HERE or for a wrap up of the event HERE.  If you’re looking for a recap and a shout out to the Miller girls then go HERE.

Clearly there is a lot to do at the H-D Anniversary celebration and it’s best to get a jump on planning for it early.

Photo courtesy of H-D and H.O.G.

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The holidays are time for a lot of cheer and goodwill. But there is one more infamous element to the holiday season that everyone is familiar with — the office party.

The Harley-Davidson Christmas party notice surfaced on WikiLeaks, and I decided to share it with you below:

From: The Office of The President
Subject: Friday’s Christmas Party

As CEO of the company I decided we’d save some money and have a potluck Christmas party whereby the ladies (who always enjoy cooking anyway) would bring the baked goods this year.  I was going to suggest having entertainment but NO ONE wants to do anything in the way of organizing anything and it is always left up to me, your humble “Head Honcho”  to come up with something that will make the event an enjoyable one for all.

I have struggled with entertainment ideas because many workers do not want their boss to go to the office Christmas party, fearing they will spoil the fun or even spark a violent reaction.  I’m reminded of a recent survey where 2,000 adults by restaurant chain TGI Friday’s found that one in three believed having their manager around stops everyone having fun. One in five said they do not want their boss to attend the office Christmas party at all and 27% are worried they might not be able to resist telling them exactly what they think of them!  One in eight was worried things could turn physical, while 1% revealed they had quit their job at the office party.  But I’ve digressed.

Clearly the office Christmas party is all about cutting loose, having fun and celebrating all the hard work the staff have put in over the year, but I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t tell you that after all the employee concession’s we ‘negotiated’ in the new union contract which will re-build our next-generation workforce, has me a little worried about what that 27 percent has to say!

Nonetheless, as the big BOSS I’ll move forward and give the staff what they want… which is a mix of a lively atmosphere, silly games, great food and indulgent cocktails, and of course, look on the bright side of the boss being there – I’ll pick up the tab!  In addition I plan to bring my new T-Pain super smooth singing microphone for the Karaoke game and Christmas caroling.

HR posted a notice on the company bulletin board (see above photo) and for those of you not in Milwaukee know that you’ll be in our holiday party thoughts.  Lastly, I ask that each of you to send me a short email on one or two trivia details about yourself because in preparation for the upcoming Christmas party – I plan to play “The Man” – Santa – and I’m making a naughty or nice list.   Ho, Ho, Ho.

Yours truly,
Keith

Note: Because parody is all the rage on the internet, I decided to have a little fun.  Clearly not an official H-D publication on WikiLeaks, but it could be!

Logo in photo courtesy of H-D.

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By now the campground dust has settled after the 70th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally which brought thousands of motorcyclists and music fans to the legendary Buffalo Chip.

There were raucous crowds mixed with top tier entertainment at the “Chip” this year.  Even Pee Wee Herman lived through it to write on a blog for The Huffington Post about his experience.  See his video HERE.  But, overall it cemented the venue as one of the better entertainment locations with an array of art, vendors, food and people gawking (responsibly of course!).  The selection of musical guests resulted in one of the biggest music festivals of its kind in South Dakota. Doing a bit of name dropping, the entertainment included; Ozzy Osbourne, Bob Dylan, Kid Rock, Motley Crue, the Scorpions, ZZ Top, The Doobie Brothers, Dave Mason, Lee Rocker, Tesla, Drowning Pool, Creedence Clearwater Revisited, The Guess Who, Trailer Choir, Buckcherry, Orianthi, Stone Sour, Jason Aldean, Williams & Ree and Disturbed.

But here’s the rub… there were a lot of people going to/from the Chip.  I was part of the 5 mile commute from town to the campground traffic jam that ran from the Buffalo Chip to I-90 on Tuesday night (August 10th) as rally-goers sat on over heating motorcycles for a couple of hours on what locals call the annual “biker crawl” to catch the Bob Dylan/Kid Rock show.

The Chip celebrated it’s twenty-ninth year of operation.  That’s twenty-nine years of motorcyclists trapped in wicked heat and traffic grid lock.  There’s no excuse for an experience like this.  In Sturgis there were NO law enforcement officers directing traffic nor were there any Buffalo Chip staff.  Just grid lock. What went wrong and why is there no traffic coordination?  Were people improperly trained?  Did too many people overwhelm the event or have budgets been cut so slim that the job can no longer be done?  It’s a case of pointing fingers.

Bob Dylan at The Buffalo Chip -- 2010

Ron Woodruff is the owner of the Buffalo Chip campground who I’m sure has great pride having overseen the tremendous growth and World Wide recognition the “Chip” has earned as one of the premier concert venues in the mid-west.  Tried to correct this situation, he has and last fall he tried again to get the Meade County commissioners to take corrective action, but the commissioners defeated a Woodruff backed bill which would have set aside money to purchase land for a shortcut from the major campgrounds to I-90.   I’m sure the meeting went something like this: “We don’t need no road that will only be used for two weeks out of the year. It will kill the vendors who depend on Main and Lazelle traffic for their business.”

The dust settles on "The Chip"

But as a business, the Sturgis town council and the Buffalo Chip should never be happy when people attend the rally, put down hard earned money for music concerts and have a bad experience for any reason.  It’s a simple situation.  How many times a year can someone afford to drop $300 for two people to go to a concert, drink a few beers, eat a Gyro and buy a t-shirt?  Not many.  So, they need to listen to the customer and make changes.   How about traffic police coordination? How about traffic alerts?  Or Twitter updates on the expected delays or reasons?  How about park and ride buses with express lanes?  Something.  Anything!

And while I’m on this rant… how about that lame video set up on the Chip stage?   Hey Ron, 1979 called and said they want their VCR camcorder back!  Are margins so tight that a short-term rental of a couple video JumboTrons for people to see the artists or the Miss Buffalo Chip Beauty Contest be out of question?  Lastly, there use to be a TV segment on ABC called the “Fleecing of America”… I suggest a segment called the Sturgis “Fleecing of Every Motorcycle Music Fan?”  You see those stop signs that help create the grid-lock, become after the Chip concert, mixed with Monkey Rock and Full Throttle motorcyclists into a law enforcement sobriety stop as police officers stood in the street wafting for alcohol with their scientifically trained nose.  When they found an offence they processed tickets speedier and more efficient than the Hertz rental car return!

Were there irresponsible riders?  Oh yeah, and many of those who participated a bit more than others caught a free ride out of the traffic jam.  Yep, the Chip truly captures the essence of the motorcycle lifestyle, but it’s time for some changes.

Photo’s taken at the Buffalo Chip.

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Reno_NightA lot of people mistakenly assume that gambling originated in Las Vegas.  The fact is that Reno, NV gambling was the hottest and most entertaining until the 1950’s when Vegas started to staked its claim in the market and solicited clientele away.

Prior to the explosive rise of Indian Casino’s and online gambling, Reno and the Lake Tahoe area attracted visitors from all over the world and kept up nicely with the booming gaming industry in Vegas.  Although many Reno casinos closed their doors permanently and others have been transformed into condos,  the city is slowing making the climb back up the gaming destination ladder and its with events like Street Vibrations that calls motorcycle enthusiasts from as far north as Seattle and south as L.A. to help inject some much needed $$ back into the local economy.

It’s rally déjà vu and this year Street Vibrations marks its 14th Anniversary.  I’m fortunate to attend the event — often called Street “Closure” Festival by many locals — which revolves around motorcycles and related interests.  There is a diverse musical line up from rock to jazz along with Custom Bike Builders and personal ink at the Tattoo Expo.  A lot of quality food and drink sprinkled among the thousands of attendees and rows of shiny chrome top off the event which keeps getting better every year.

For those of you traveling the Oregon highways you may want to take note that 21 new Oregon State (OSP) troopers will be sworn in this Sunday (Sept 20).  These new troopers are being deployed across the state and are the first group of 39 new positions authorized by the 2009 legislative session which will help OSP return to around-the-clock coverage in many offices.

Lastly, road trips present certain blogging challenges for me.  I don’t blog from the road.  But, this time I’ll pay closer attention to what those challenges actually are and see if I can determine how to deal with them.  Clearly others have mastered remote blogging, vblogging (video blogs) and do the “tweet” thing from their saddle.   I’ve been slow to jump on this motorcycle road warrior trend especially when it’s a vacation.  Besides like many others I get distracted with the roar of the engines, the entertainment and soaking up the displays in the vendor booths.

Our entourage heads out in a few days.  See you in Reno.

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HCMRFor the folks who live in Oregon it seems like 3 seasons of: almost winter, winter, still winter as we wait on the final and 4th season – road construction

Now that ‘road construction’ is upon us and warmer weather is getting repeatable it’s time for the Hells Canyon Motorcycle Rally.  It all happens June 12-15 in historic Baker City, OR and this year marks the 10th anniversary of the rally. The rally is open to all bikes and bikers.

BC_MapOn Friday (12th) the Plymouth Tavern, in Plymouth Washington is the Official Lunch stop for the rally.  Being at the east end of SR-14 it is a good location for riders vectoring in from all points northwest.   Jason, the owner, will be serving up specials for HCMR riders and you can check out HERE for more info.    Riders coming from the East may want to consider High Desert H-D in Meridian, ID. as a meet up location.  

A couple of key points to pass along from the organizers after you get settled in Baker City, be sure and stop by the HCMR booth at the Sunridge Ride Center.  They have new Official clothing, registration and info that you can’t get anywhere else.  Additional vendors are located at Ride Center and Downtown, they will be open Friday, Saturday pretty much all day and Sunday till noon.   There are a number of watering holes:  These would include Sonny’s Bar & Grill at the Sunridge,  Golden Crown on Campbell St, Stockman’s Bar, Brew-In-Stein, Barley Brown’s Brew Pub, Main Event, Geiser Saloon all on Main Street or the Idle Hour on Broadway.  Friday night most riders will want to take the Shuttle (you’ll need your wristband from the registration packet for this) to the Baker High School where hundreds of bikers will be camped.  Eric, co-founder of the rally, will be showing classic motorcycle movies in the campground after dark.

Don’t forget that Saturday is about the RIDES.  With the Hells Canyon Scenic Byway, The Devil’s Tail, The Ghost Town – Gold Rush Loop or Strawberry Mountain on the riding agenda there is no time to waste.

If you’re not going to this rally you’ll miss some great rides and fun time!

Photo courtesy Google and Pine Valley Lodge.

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