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Curves Ahead

Curves Ahead

We’ve all done this a number of times.  Riding into a curve, adjusting your speed and noticing that you’re going 5 to 10 miles per hour above the posted speed on those yellow curve advisory speed signs.

Rarely do they seem accurate.

This is all about to change, but I feel compelled to go over this once again since it happens so often. The most common cause of single-vehicle, motorcycle crashes is where riders are seriously injured and/or die each year when they “drift” and/or fail to negotiate turns or curves, and they either end up in the opposing lane of traffic, or they lose control and crash.

One could debate that the worst riders are sometimes the people with the most experience because they think they are the great riders so they sometimes do not exercise the caution that they should.

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 11.26.09 AMThe circumstances of drifting and the failure to negotiate a curve have resulted in multiple motorcycle deaths in Oregon just over the last 2 months!  Excessive speed is most often the main reason these “accidents” occur yet it’s one of the most preventable motorcycle crashes.  What typically happens is the rider gets into a turn and suddenly believes they are going too fast to make it around the curve. Maybe the rider hears the pegs start to scrape. Since they are not familiar with that sound, they panic, straighten up the bike, then look at the yellow line in the road, the guard rail, or even the oncoming vehicle and a crash occurs.  In many situations the motorcycle was very capable of making the turn at the speed the rider was going, but the rider was not.

They teach you in motorcycle safety courses that before you enter a curve you should direct your motorcycle to the farthest part of the lane away from the turn so that you can theoretically see around the turn more.  For example, when rounding a curve to the left, position your bike to the right side of the lane and focus on the end of the turn and no where else. Never look at the yellow line, the guard rail, or the oncoming car. If the road curves to the right, position your bike to the left side of the lane as you enter the curve.  However, you might find that sometimes it is not safe to go to the farthest part of the lane away from a curve because of oncoming cars or debris on the shoulder.  In the end the safest thing to remember when going around curves is to keep a safe speed period.

Changes...

Updating curve ‘advisory speed’ signs…

Now about those changes…

Updated federal procedures require consistency of curve advisory speeds on all public roads and the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) is updating curve ‘advisory speed’ signs around the state. This means that some 50-75 percent of all curve speed advisory signs will change over the next three to four years, most will see an increase in the advisory speed of 5 to 10 mph.  Yes, you read that correct.  An INCREASE in speed!

Historically advisory speeds were very conservative or inconsistent and now with new technology to determine advisory speeds for curves they will be closer to what riders should be traveling at through a curve. If you are accustom to going faster than the posted advisory speed it may not end well!

Read more on the comprehensive assessment of the ODOT Curve Advisory Speeds Program (PDF file), performed by Oregon State University researchers.

Photos courtesy of ODOT.
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Screen Shot 2016-07-07 at 3.34.02 PMThe State of Oregon has more than 74,000 miles of total roads and highways to wander as you set out on your northwest adventure.  The state is known for a diverse landscape including the Pacific coastline, the Cascade Mountain Range, and the flat central/eastern desert. It’s the ninth largest state and with a population of 4 million, the 26th most populous.

Yet, over the last couple of weeks the state is being defined by an alarming spike in motorcycle accidents and rider deaths!  OSP flash alerts are HERE.

  • On Highway 36 on June 24th a 2004 Harley crossed the center line and struck a Ford Ranger head-on. The motorcyclist, 56-year-old Michael R. Lucier of Swisshome, died at the scene.
  • On June 25th there was motorcycle crash on Highway 46 at milepost 7 (Caves Highway near Cave Junction).  The preliminary investigation revealed that a 2001 Triumph motorcycle was eastbound on Highway 46 at milepost 7 when it left the roadway on a corner. The motorcycle struck a tree and the rider, Patrick Michael Daley, age 57, of Cave Junction, was thrown down the embankment and pronounced deceased at the scene.
  • On June 26th there was a report of a truck versus motorcycle collision on Interstate 5 at the 235 interchange (just north of Albany). The 1995 Kenworth truck tractor was towing a chip trailer and had been traveling southbound on Old Salem Road. The truck began to make a left turn onto the Interstate 5 southbound on-ramp, but turned in front of a northbound 1995 Kawasaki motorcycle. The motorcyclist crashed as a result of the truck turning into its path. The rider, Kevin R. Argo, age 39, of Lebanon was pronounced deceased at the scene by emergency personnel.
  • On June 30th near Deadwood, OR, Richard F. Araujo, 68, died when he missed a corner on his 1992 Harley Davidson and sideswiped a Dodge pickup. It was the 2nd fatal motorcycle crash on Highway 36 in less than a week.
  • On July 2nd OSP responded to a report of a motorcycle versus vehicle crash on London Road near the Cottage Grove Reservoir.  Information revealed a 1999 Honda 900 motorcycle was traveling southbound on London Road at a high rate of speed just as a 2008 Chrysler Sebring was pulling out of a private drive northbound. The motorcycle impacted the driver’s side of the Sebring. The rider, identified as Cory Nathan Tocher, age 33, of Cottage Grove, was thrown from the motorcycle and pronounced deceased at the scene.
  • Also on July 2nd there was a report of a traffic crash involving a motorcycle rider and an SUV on Southeast 82nd Avenue near Schiller Street.  Efforts to save the motorcyclist, 45-year-old Aaron Christopher Rufener were unsuccessful and he was pronounced deceased at the scene by emergency personnel.  The driver of the SUV, a 44-year-old man, remained at the scene and was cooperative. Officers learned that he was driving northbound on 82nd Avenue and was turning left into the Don Pedro Mexican Restaurant parking lot when the southbound motorcycle rider crashed into the passenger side rear of the SUV, a 2004 Chevrolet Trailblazer. The motorcycle is a 2013 Harley Davidson.

In addition, on July 5th there was a vehicle crash reported on I-5, just south of Ashland.  The crash, involved a BMW motorcycle and a semi-truck going southbound at mile post 10.5.  The motorcycle was from Mexico and was traveling at about 70 mph when it ran into the back of a semi-truck.  The motorcycle driver was transported to Oregon Health and Science University to be treated for his life-threatening injuries.

On July 6th, again on I-5 in northern Josephine County near Wolf Creek, OSP responded to the single-vehicle accident at milepost 80.  David Carl Freiboth, 61-year-old of Mercer Island was riding his Triumph motorcycle in the fast lane of I-5 when a semi-truck in the slow lane quickly signaled and changed lanes in front of him.  Freiboth told OSP he hit his brakes and quickly veered away from the semi, which caused him to hit the median and lay his bike down. He complained of shoulder pain and was transported by AMR Ambulance to Three Rivers Medical Center for treatment.  A motorcyclist behind Freiboth confirmed the incident, but was unsure about the description of the semi – which did not stop after causing the mishap.

Oregon has no shortage of steep grades, tight curves and awesome views that can be fascinating on a motorcycle.  But, please, PLEASE pay attention because we want you to live through your trip here!

If you are new or considering a motorcycle visit to the state I urged riders – to review motorcycle safety information.

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Belen, New Mexico

Belen, New Mexico

An un-American fact about America today is that for some groups, much more than others, upward mobility and the American dream are alive and well. It may be taboo to say it, but certain ethnic, religious and national-origin groups are doing strikingly better than Americans overall.

Which brings me to Belen, New Mexico (30 miles south of Albuquerque) and Jacob Williams.

Mr. Williams is a 27 year old who back in 2008 went to prison for killing a motorcyclist and crippling the motorcycles passenger while driving drunk.  Williams pleaded guilty to felony charges of vehicular homicide, great bodily harm by vehicle and aggravated driving while intoxicated.

Jacob Williams Arraignment - Pleads Not Guilty

Jacob Williams Arraignment – Pleads Not Guilty

District Court Judge William Sanchez, presided over the case and sentenced Williams to the maximum six years in prison allowed under the plea agreement.  He was released from prison in 2012.

Jump ahead to last Saturday where a witness told KOB-TV that she called 911 twice to report seeing Williams driving erratically around her neighborhood.  She then called again three hours later to report seeing him getting into a fight with a neighbor.  More details HERE, HERE and HERE.

However, deputies failed to quickly respond before the pickup that Williams was driving veered over a center line, killing Daniel Sanchez, 51, and seriously injuring his 11-year-old daughter, Magen who were riding on a motorcycle.  In an  unbelievable ironic twist, it turns out that Daniel Sanchez is the brother of the District Court Judge William Sanchez who sentenced Williams back in 2008.  Breath tests found Mr. Williams’ blood-alcohol level at 0.16 percent, or twice the legal limit of 0.08.

The death of the judge’s brother appeared to be coincidental and a Valencia County Sheriff’s Office spokesman made a statement about the failure to quickly respond by saying that only five deputies were working that day, and they were tied up with other felony crimes and another fatal crash.  No one should have to bear the burdens caused by someone else’s negligence on the road!

How did we get to this place?  Where taking a life is worth 0-6 years?  Really?!

It would seem that for years New Mexico has had a willful blindness to the facts as one of the highest rates of alcohol-related traffic deaths in the nation.

Maybe it’s time for all motorcyclists to boycott New Mexico?  Along with boycotting the popular rally’s (i.e. Red River Run), which draws tens of thousands of motorcyclists to Red River and nearby Angel Fire and pumps hundreds of thousands of dollars into the area economy.

And with Super Bowl taking place this Sunday and having developed a reputation as one of the more dangerous days of the year for drunk driving… please be careful out there.

Photo courtesy of Google Maps and KOAT.

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Retail stores open Thanksgiving Day

Retail stores open Thanksgiving Day

It seems that the shopping season is taking over the holiday season.  Black Friday battles to save a couple dollars are giving us all a black eye!

The MINDLESS ads…  Door buster ads, “lightning” deals, Amazon Black Friday week, newspaper ads, TV ads, email ads, Facebook ads, Pinterest ads, ads embedded in blog posts and even Apple products are being advertised on discount, which is something we’ve rarely seen before.  In fact, a record number of retail stores (i.e. Best Buy, Walmart, etc.) are open on Thanksgiving Day (which means people have to work vs. share time with family)  so that consumers can buy those so-called “bargains.” 

Clearly Retailers have crossed the line, but we know the public will head to the shops.  We complain about consumerism, but there are plenty of horror stories of stampedes as shops open their doors and people fling themselves into shop ‘til you drop mode.

So, I wanted to put Thanksgiving in perspective. 

obamacare_stickerI have many things to be thankful for, most of all my family and friends.  I’m thankful for motorcycling and the ability/health to have enjoyed another year of riding my Harley across this great country.  I’m grateful for a wife who shares my passion and rides along on many adventures.  I’m thankful and appreciate my extended rider “family” who have been there with support and hugs from breakdowns to accidents.

I’m thankful for the men and women of our armed forces who are serving overseas protecting our interests.  They don’t get to spend Thanksgiving with their loved ones and I appreciate their sacrifice.  It does not go unnoticed!

We live in a country that to a great extent, still provides the promise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  A place where we can freely choose to do what we want and if we’re fortunate, be able to make a living doing it.

I’m thankful that I can complain about our elected representatives, and have the ability to choose them which is a rarity in this world!  Speaking of,  I’m thankful for Barack Obama banishing boredom for millions of lives.  The ObamaCare misadventure and “apology” has caused a lot of ordinary people to question both his character and his competence.  But, I’ve digressed.

Last but not least, I’m thankful for all of you!  The readers, the subscribers and the commenters.  You allow me to do what I do on this blog.  That is the promise of America, and on this Thanksgiving holiday, it still holds true.

 I hope you have a chance to enjoy some turkey, yams, stuffing and pumpkin pie with your family and friends!

Photo courtesy of Internet Advertising.

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ambulance with lightsI know there are ongoing activities to promote motorcycle safety in Oregon.

Yet, my observations riding around the Portland metro area is that we just don’t see as much in the way of highly visible – “in your face” – awareness programs this year.  Maybe I’ve missed the billboards while concentrating on and trying to navigate the highway ruts/grooves from all the road construction?

I’ll tell you what I have noticed…   Several motorcycle crash reports from Oregon State Police and articles in the Oregonian.  It’s sad to say, but when I see a motorcycle accident in the paper, that’s increasing awareness!  Some might even debate that reading about motorcycle accidents provides a better deterrent than a motorcycle awareness campaign could accomplish.

What do you think?

When there is an accident, the motorcycle community wants to know what happened.  Why and who caused it?  But, more often than not we’re left speculating about what led up to the accident, or second guessing the police report.  Follow up seldom occurs and accurate conclusions are challenging to get.  I truly dislike blogging about these disheartening events, but over the last 4-weeks we’ve seen a spike in accidents.  All motorcyclists were wearing helmets and below is a brief summary:

  1. June 17 –  John Edward Tomer was eastbound on Highway 26 near milepost 46. For an unknown reason, the motorcycle traveled across the westbound lane where a witness in another vehicle slowed to avoid it. The motorcycle continued off the highway into a ditch and hit a tree bordering the north side.  Mr. Tomer was pronounced deceased at the scene.
  2. June 21 – Terry Brateng stopped his motorcycle with two other motorcycles on the right southbound shoulder of I-5 near milepost 194 underneath an overpass next to a concrete shoulder barrier to shelter from a passing heavy rain shower.  After getting off his motorcycle, Brateng was walking around the front of the motorcycle when he was struck by an automobile driven by Kaitlyn Inman which failed to drive within a lane.  Brateng was seriously injured and remains in Sacred Heart Medical Center.
  3. June 23 –  Stephen Anthony Williams was on Highway 37 about 8-miles southeast of Highway 97 and collided into the passenger side of a dodge van turning into a private driveway.  He was air lifted to St. Charles Medical Center in Bend where he died of injuries.  The van’s driver, Glen Harvey Jr was arrested for criminally negligent homicide and DUII.
  4. June 24 – On Highway 19 west of Spray, Randall Upshaw was found by a passing motorist in the highway along with a dead deer.  Upshaw was deceased and the preliminary investigation indicated a collision between the motorcycle and the deer.
  5. July 3 – Robert Irving Floding died from injuries suffered during a crash on June 10th.  This was the 19th traffic fatality in Portland in 2013
  6. July 5 – An adult male crashed his motorcycle in the 1400 block of SE 10th Avenue in Portland and was pronounced deceased at the scene.  A medical condition was being reviewed.  No names were released.
  7. July 9 – A Roseburg couple, Kenneth and Linda Minshew were critically injured on Highway 138E two miles west of Tokette when the motorcycle traveled off the highway and struck a tree.
  8. July 11 – A fatal motorcycle crash on SE Milwaukee Avenue just south of McLoughlin Blvd.  Damian Gerold Waytt was traveling at high rate of speed on a Kawasaki ZX6 and failed to negotiate a partial right turn and went off the road.  Video HERE.  This was the 23rd traffic fatality in Portland in 2013.
  9. July 11 – Jacob J. Godfrey was found lying in berry bushes several hours after an overnight motorcycle crash off Highway 194 (Monmouth Highway) and 3-miles east of Highway 223.  The Yamaha motorcycle traveled off the highway and when Mr. Godfrey didn’t come to work the next morning friends went looking and spotted the mark on a road side tree, stopped and heard him call out for help.  He was reported in fair condition.
  10. July 16 – A motorcycle and dump truck were involved in an accident on Highway 229 at milepost 21 near Siletz. For an unconfirmed reason the motorcycle operated by John Hausmann and with passenger/wife Angela Hausmann crossed the center line and collided with the truck.  Their injuries are believed to be non-life threatening.
  11. UPDATED:  July 19 — A reckless motorcycle was traveling eastbound on Highway 30 in excess of 100 mph and tried to eluded OSP.  The trooper tried to stop the motorcycle rider, but he failed to yield to the trooper’s emergency lights and siren, then continued on eastbound.  Iosif Savitskiy eventually crashed into a yard in North Portland and was arrested.  Video HERE.  Another idiot giving motorcycle riders a bad name…

My condolences and sympathies go out to the families and friends of these riders.

There are many reasons for the spike in motorcycle accidents and clearly we can’t shove all the blame onto distracted automobile drivers.

Given the high number of riders who will be out this weekend packing the roads for Run21 and the National BMW rally, I wanted to remind riders… please just pay attention and ride safe.

Photo courtesy of lifemoresimply.blogspot.com

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Fair Weather Riders

Fair Weather Riders

It seems that May is déjà vu all over again.

It marks the start of the motorcycle safety awareness month which is shortly followed by accident reports or dumb and dumber maneuvers by  motorcycle riders.

The first in Oregon was the 10am arrest of Jessica Peterson (28 years old) on the first day of Motorcycle Awareness Month.  The charges were assault in the 2nd degree, DUI and reckless driving.  Ms. Petersen crossed over into oncoming traffic and struck Chase Dillon Ivey (26 years old) on his Suzuki motorcycle.  At last report Mr. Ivey was in serious condition at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center.

The opening weekend of Motorcycle Awareness in Washington state wasn’t any better where 3 deaths in two motorcycle crashes on highway 101 in Western Washington occurred.  In Idaho, just a few days earlier three motorcyclists died.

And as if that wasn’t enough to bring a lot of attention to rider safety and the tragic events, on May 6th on Highway 97 south of Lapine, Oregon, Gregory Zaser (61 years old) was cited for speeding – 130mph in a 55mph zone – on a Ducati motorcycle.  According to Trooper Newcomb, Mr. Zaser had just purchased the Ducati (bagger) and wanted to “see what it would do”…

Spoken just like a true attention-grabbing teenager!

I searched and found nothing mentioned on the Desmos web site about this new break-in procedure from Ducati.  And combine that with the fact that Highway 97 is notorious for wild animals standing peacefully on the roadway… I think Mr. Zaser is lucky to walk away with only a huge ticket!

My point?  Other than calling out Mr. Zaser’s attempt to revive the art of fossilized manliness and giving motorcyclists a bad image?!

We’re coming off 3-weeks of incredibly nice weather here in the northwest and motorcycles have been out in force.  Many riders in the state are fair(er) weather riders and for the first time pulling out their motorcycle from storage.  An experienced rider once shared with me that when you’re riding on a motorcycle you’ve always got to watch out for everyone else around you.  And I’ve noticed more than ever the freeways in the Portland metro area are full of people on the phone – talking and texting – changing lanes or swerving and not using blinkers because they’re just not paying attention to their surroundings.

It’s not my intention to pick on a particular group of drivers or riders, but I wanted to reinforce the conversation about motorcycle safety.  A high percentage of accidents are rider caused and preventable.  Make smart decisions on the road.

Photo courtesy of George Toomer

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lane-split-caSome automobile drivers see motorcyclists as obnoxious and borderline cheaters as they cut and weave through slow freeway traffic to get ahead of others.

The practice is called lane-splitting and only in California has it always been legal, however, state authorities have never told motorcyclists how best to maneuver between heavy and slow moving traffic safely.

cmsp-rules

Until now…  you can read the complete lane-splitting regulations HERE.  The new rules, which the CHP introduced in January after consulting with other state agencies and motorcycle-rider groups, apply to city streets, highways and freeways across the state.

I wonder if we’ll be seeing intermediate and advance lane-splitting courses in the future?

I’ve blogged previously about the possibility of lane splitting in Oregon HERE.

Photo courtesy of Noah Berger.
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