NW Ohio motorcycle group gears up for safetyWritten by Lauren Farnsworth | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Motorcycles are a way of life for millions of Americans. Thousands of motorcyclists have used Toledo Motorcycle Forums’ (TMF) website which tries to educate the community on bike safety and help connect local riders.
The family-friendly group hosts weekly rides and other social events such as track day, where riders are able to drive on a private track without speed restrictions.
Website administrator, Lewis “Sonny” Blevins said the majority of the members ride sports bikes. He hopes the group is able to “get rid of some of the stigmas of the sports bike community.”
When TMF organizes a ride, the group follows the speed limit and rides safely. If someone “gets out of line” they are asked to leave, according to Blevins.
Blevins wants to connect riders with the information they are seeking. One example of this is through the rookie rider’s forum, where new riders can ask questions about bikes, gear, rides or anything else riders are curious about.
“Having forums like that has helped younger riders have a place to turn to for safety tips,” Blevins said.
In addition to the online forum, the organization is also involved in the community.
In 10 years, TMF has raised nearly $40,000 for local charities. It was the first group to organize a fundraiser for the Keith Dressel Memorial Fund, Blevins said.
Every year, TMF has a memorial ride for fallen riders. This year’s ride is May 23 at Honda East Toledo. It will be dedicated to a 9-year-old member who died from brain tumor complications.
In 2008, 5,290 motorcyclists were killed and 96,000 were injured according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
“Over half of all fatal motorcycle crashes involve another vehicle. Most of the time, the motorist, not the motorcyclist, is at fault,” according to the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.
May is motorcycle safety awareness month. Blevins advice for drivers is to be extra cautious around motorcycles, not tailgate and to mind their blind spots because motorcycles can easily fall into them given their size.
He also warned against motorcycle turn signals. According to Blevins, turn signals are not self canceling, as they are in a car. As such, it is common for a cyclist to forget to manually turn off the signal after completing a turn.
He advises new motorcycle drivers to take a safety course and for all riders to follow the rules of the road.
“I have personally been run off the road on more than one occasion. I have lost friends who have been T-boned,” he said.
“I think in general, a lot of motorcyclists, when they feel infringed on their little space, they tend to take it much more personal,” Blevins said. “They don’t feel that the car realizes how vulnerable they are. If they touch me, or cut me off, or cause me to swerve, that is my life, that’s not a dent in my front fender.”
Although riders in Ohio are not required to wear a helmet, TMF supports the use of protective gear. Blevins usually wears a helmet but there are times when he doesn’t. Even though he knows helmets increase safety, he said he likes the freedom of choice.
“Some bikers [think] I’d rather avoid an accident, than be in one safely,” he said.
The first motorcycle was built in the late 1860s by Sylvester H. Roper, according to the Smithsonian Institute. Because this bike was steam powered, a lot of sources credit the motorcycle to Gottlieb Daimler. He invented the first gas powered motorcycle, a wooden bike with an engine attached, in 1885.
“Bikes come in all different shapes and sizes. There are a percentage of motorcycles that misbehave on the road and they annoy the average motorcyclist as much as they do the average car.”
Blevins said a lot of drivers have a bias toward motorcycles. He hopes drivers will treat motorcyclists the same as they would any other driver.