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Vietnam Vet Ray Jordan of Salem, OR who decked his 2003 Road King with 105 American Flags for the 105th Anniversary.

Vietnam Vet Ray Jordan of Salem, OR who decked his 2003 Road King with 105 American Flags for the H-D 105th Anniversary Parade.

Next week we will celebrate the 237th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.

It happens on July 4th and sure we’re in the middle of what seems like a “J. Edgar” moment with this PRISM gig – Big Government infringing on civil liberties – but, the mysterious man did some great things and it seems we’re always preoccupied with those items that divide us versus the things that pull us together.

Here is an interesting video about the American Experience that reminds us to celebrate this occasion.  It’s from the Bicentennial anniversary and a nice retro look back.

I think we live in a great country, the only one in the world founded on the power of ideas, freedom, equality and the notion that you can come from nothing and become something through hard work and determination.  And like many of you I lack grandeur in my heritage and was raised by hard working, middle class parents who provided all the essentials necessary to raise an educated, healthy, motivated family with a sound ethical background.

And as a member of the motorcycle riding community I know there are a lot of individualists out there who follow their own path and beat the drum to their own song.  So whether celebrating the day with a BBQ, family picnic or solo with the wind in your face… enjoy your freedom and independence!

Flags courtesy of MKEimages.com at the Harley-Davidson 105th Anniversary parade.  The motorcycle belongs to Vietnam Vet Ray Jordan of Salem, OR who decked his 2003 Road King with 105 American Flags for the 105th Anniversary Parade. 

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HCMR-BakerCityHere is what you need to know.

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.”

Good-Vib09But, 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 RallyRiding The Wild West – Pendleton, OR – July 25-27 – Attendee estimates are 1000+ of motorcyclists traveling east

Pendleton-ORMost 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.

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Three-peat is a contraction of the words three and repeat, which has been trademarked for commercial use by retired basketball coach Pat Riley.

The Oregon motorcycle rally called Good Vibrations is set to “3 Peat” on July 13th.  It’s three days of motorcycle fun in and around Salem/Keizer including festivities at Riverfront Park and Salem Harley-Davidson.

Randy Burke, President of Road Shows Inc., (Reno Street Vibrations “fame”) is running at full throttle to make the third rendition of the motorcycle rally in Oregon the best. The  rally will have bike competitions, bike shows, entertainment, concerts, poker runs, wine country tours and is expected to attract hundreds of motorcycle enthusiasts to the area.

I’ve provided shout outs in the past for Randy Burke HERE about his efforts to make Street Vibrations a major success.  His company, Roadshows Inc. is a private company categorized under Entertainment Promotion and located in Reno, NV. Online records indicate it was established in the ‘90’s and incorporated in Nevada. Current estimates indicate the company has an annual revenue of $500,000 to $1 million and they employ a staff of approximately 5 to 9.  They are also a fully licensed entertainment booking agency, licensed private event security and event management company.  In addition to Good & Street Vibrations, they produce events in Palm Springs, Lake Havasu, Mammoth Lakes, Myrtle Beach, SC and Milwaukee.

They know how to make magic at a motorcycle rally!

Photo courtesy of Road Shows Inc.

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You could define a good day when everything goes your way, when nothing can take you out of your motorcycle riding rhythm.  No work and stress or minor irritations are brushed aside because of the euphoric emotions flowing with the wind in your face.

That was the vibe heading into the 2010 Good Vibrations in Salem/Keizer this past weekend.  It had the perfect concoction for a motorcycle rally – deep blue clear skies, mid-70 degree weather, and a solid line up of vendor booths along with some good music mixes.  Arguably the chamber-of-commerce would view it as a successful inaugural motorcycle rally – independent of key indicators – as the city rolled out the red-carpet with the goal of helping the mid-valley economy with tourism dollars.  Our group did a 4-hour drive-by on Saturday as we rolled down and explored the asphalt ribbons of Hwy 219 through the farming valley.  The dust has now settled and the rumble of bikes is all but a memory of the rally so it’s time for some feedback.

1.    Marketing:  Do more advertising, and do it earlier.   Leverage low-cost word of mouth motorcycle clubs disti lists, social media etc., to get the word out.  Even with a blog post, and all the talk about an Oregon motorcycle rally with friends, relatives and business associates the attendance wasn’t contagious.  We arrived at the registration hotel (Keizer Renaissance Inn) along with about 4 other motorcycles to have the receptionist tell us that the event was “SPREAD OUT” all across town and we were not at the ‘hub’ of the event.

2.    Maps: Provide one!  Provide an event map on the web site.  Provide an event map on the pocket flyer.  Make .PDF maps available for e-distribution.  Train the hotel employees on how to answer ‘visitors’ question about what is going on.  Admittedly I’m unfamiliar with the inner Salem/Keizer streets and finding some parts of the rally venue was like an exercise in trying to escape the legislature tax hikes.  It was near impossible.  We looped the bridges on Hwy 22/99E/221 so many times it felt like movie Ground Hog day!

3.    Balanced Police Presence: local police were everywhere (biking, walking, Segways) and the ever visible patrol cars on side roads made the event lose some of the ‘festival’ vibe. If they would have been enforcing the anti-littering laws against all smokers throwing their butts everywhere they’d rake in thousands vs. needing comprehensive street patrols and zero-based-tolerance of straight pipes modified exhausts.

4.    Wine Tour: Do more to dispel the negative perception that motorcyclists are wildly racing through farm country on winery tours – “just sipping”, of course – to the next watering hole.  I received a number of emails and comments that it’s no wonder people don’t take motorcyclists serious if they don’t operate sober and safe.  Need to change the overall messaging.

The impact of tourism in Oregon is powerful.  According to Travel Salem, in Marion and Polk counties tourism employs more than 5,600 people having an estimated economic impact in 2009 of $452M.  While I don’t agree with how everything was implemented at this year’s rally I do want to provide a major shout out to Randy Burke and Road Shows Inc., team for all their hard work in bringing what hopefully is an annual motorcycle event to the state.

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I was up early this morning thinking about the Arizona law, which takes effect July 29th.  I wouldn’t have been thinking about illegal immigrants, but for the fact that a drunk driver hit a family members parked car last night which meant that for part of my evening it was spent with law enforcement observing their DUI process.  I’ve come away with a new appreciation about a suspect’s immigration status.   More on this in a future post.

As I was saying… there I was shaving thinking about AZ when on KINK radio I heard the DJ’s talk about the large motorcycle rallies planned this weekend and for drivers to be on the lookout for an increase in motorcycle traffic.  Cool!  Nice to see the ODOT motorcycle safety program in action.  I still believe the variable message signs would be a good and highly visible option, but with a pesky ‘just-say-no’ traffic engineer controlling the “ON” switch… radio ads will help.  In addition, ODOT provided the below press release to all major media outlets:

“Share the road safely with motorcycles

With two large motorcycle rallies happening in Oregon this weekend, ODOT is urging drivers and motorcyclists to watch out for each other and share the road safely.

The BMW Motorcycle Owners of America are holding their 2010 international rally in Redmond July 15-18. The Good Vibrations Motorcycle Rally will take place in Salem and Keizer July 16-18. Both rallies are expected to attract hundreds of motorcyclists from around the state and the nation.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re on four wheels or two, we all have to do our part to share the roadways,” said Michele O’Leary, ODOT’s Motorcycle Safety program manager.

A motorcycle is one of the smallest vehicles on our roads, often hidden in a vehicle’s blind spot. It’s crucial that drivers always make visual checks for motorcycles by double-checking mirrors and blind spots before changing lanes, merging and at intersections.

Motorcyclists have responsibilities too. They should follow the rules of the road, be alert to other drivers, never ride while impaired or distracted, and always wear a helmet and full protective gear.

Although Oregon is far below the national average for motorcycle fatalities, in 2008, 46 motorcyclists lost their lives in crashes in Oregon. That’s far too many family members, friends and neighbors lost in often preventable incidents.

ODOT offers safety tips for drivers and motorcyclists:

Drivers

  • Remember, motorcycles are vehicles with all of the rights and privileges of any other motor vehicle on the roadway. Always allow a motorcyclist the full lane width—never try to share a lane.
  • Always make a visual check for motorcycles by checking mirrors and blind spots before entering or leaving a lane of traffic and at intersections.
  • Always signal your intentions before changing lanes or merging with traffic.
  • Remember that road conditions, which are minor annoyances to passenger vehicles, pose major hazards to motorcyclists.
  • Allow more following distance, three or four seconds, when following a motorcycle, so the motorcyclist has enough time to maneuver or stop in an emergency. Don’t tailgate.

Motorcyclists

  • Always wear a helmet and protective clothing.
  • Allow time and space to react to other motorists or changing road conditions.
  • Always signal your intentions before changing lanes or merging with traffic.
  • Don’t speed.
  • Motorcycle rider training and education save lives. TEAM OREGON offers classes for beginner to advanced riders.

For more information on ODOT’s motorcycle safety program visit www.oregon.gov/ODOT/TS/motorcyclesafety.shtml.”

Oregon state will have a kaleidoscope of motorcyclists traveling over the roads the next 72 hours.  Drivers might notice our tattoos, leathers and even winch at the exhaust noise, but most of all the riders will appreciate the fact that you took notice and we’ll get home safe!

Update: July 19, 2010 — A early scan of the motor vehicle accident reports suggest that this past rally filled weekend was relatively safe for motorcyclists.  The exception being where OSP was dispatched to an accident involving two motorcycles on Highway 20 near milepost 14. The incident was the result of a bucket which blew out from the back of a pickup onto the roadway.  A 2001 BMW K1200LT motorcycle, operated by BENJAMIN JONSSON, and passenger CARA JONSSON, both age 54, from Spruce Grove, Alberta Canada was westbound on Highway 20 near milepost 14 when they came upon the bucket. BENJAMIN JONSSON was able to successfully swerve and miss the bucket.
However, a 2003 BMW R1150T motorcycle, operated by FREDERICK HERZOFF, age 61, and passenger  as ANNETTE HERZOFF both from Paradise City, California were also westbound traveling some distance behind JONSSON’S motorcycle.  FREDERICK HERZOFF attempted to swerve around the bucket and in doing so crashed into the back of JONSSON’S motorcycle. JONSSON and HERZOFF were not traveling together.
All four riders were transported by ambulance to Saint Charles Hospital in Bend. BENJAMIN and CARA JONSSON sustained minor injuries. FREDERICK HERZOFF sustained serious injuries and ANNETTE HERZOFF critical injuries. All four riders were wearing helmets.

Photo courtesy of ODOT.

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According to news outlets, the animal rights activists group who earlier this year declared “War on Leather” will not be attending the first annual Good Vibrations Motorcycle Rally in Salem/Keizer.

That’s a good thing because the motorcycle rally which happens this coming weekend (July 16 – 18th) in the Salem/Keizer area is expecting hundreds of motorcyclists… some of which will be wearing leather in the form of… shoes, chaps, jackets, coats, gloves, hats and belts!

I blogged previously about this rally back in February HERE.  The rally activities are happening at Salem Harley-Davidson, Oregon State Fairgrounds, Spirit Mountain Casino, and the cities of Dallas, Monmouth, Independence, and McMinnville.  The Good Vibration event is produced by Randy Burke, President of Road Shows Inc., and is modeled after his most popular Street Vibrations Rally held in Reno, NV.  The Oregon rally has the added value of wine tastings at Willamette Valley Vineyards and Orchard Heights Winery along with the fantastic Northwest scenery and winding roads.

Hopefully you get the opportunity to participate in the first annual rally. A portion of the proceeds benefits the Christian Motorcycle Association and the Juvenile Diabetes Association.  Registered participants will receive an official event t-shirt, hog tags and ride pin.  They will also be able to participate in poker runs, get free admission to VIP parties, two ride-in shows, a parade, and live entertainment.  Check out the schedule of events here!

See you there!

Photo courtesy of Road Shows Inc.

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Reminiscent of the sly wizard in Frank Baum’s classic The Wizard of Oz, chances are most people have probably never heard of the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) program manager of motorcycle safety and safety standards, Michele O’Leary.

Who is Michele O’Leary?   A person who wants you to wear a helmet and protective clothing.  The person who manages the motorcycle endorsement funds and determines how it gets allocated.  But wait there’s even more…

The Statesman Journal has an interesting interview with O’Leary and it provides insight on the person behind the curtain.

First off, O’Leary came to the job with a motorcycle endorsement and owns a motorcycle!  It’s good to be able to relate to rider issues and in my book this was a step ahead of the Harley-Davidson CEO (Keith Wandell) when he was hired last year with neither.   As a member of the Governor’s Advisory Committee on motorcycle safety, O’Leary has the inside track and has been successful in getting legislation changed to increase fines/penalties on certain types of infractions deemed safety oriented.  Is that good?

I became acquainted with O’Leary as part of my safety rants back in April to do anything and everything to encourage the use of the States variable message signs (VMS) for motorcycle awareness. Those neon signs are peppered across the metro area roadways and provide information about traffic congestion and accident reports and in my little world I thought they would make an excellent public safety reminder for drivers to watch out for motorcycles.  My request was promptly denied and I got “schooled” on the ‘correct’ usage of variable message signs by the ODOT traffic engineers. Previous posts related to this subject matter at: Motorcycle Safety TacticsSpotlight On ODOTWanna Be Policy Makers.

Many might debate that we need to ‘just say no’ to the ever increasing attempts by the government to manage every aspect of our lives through increased regulation.  Others will say it’s a noble cause to help make Oregon motorcycle riders safer.  Read the interview, learn who is looking out for you and judge for yourself…

And finally, if the above wasn’t enough to digest… from the edges of the internet come information about a tornado strikes festival celebrating The Wizard of Oz.

Photo courtesy of Picasa.

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