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RACINE, KENOSHA, MILWAUKEE COUNTIES — Motorcycles will be on the move this weekend throughout Southeastern Wisconsin as they make their way to and from the 2023 Harley Davidson Homecoming Festival.

Celebrations are happening in Milwaukee County, but also at Uke’s Harley Davidson in Kenosha. The party will also continue at various restaurants, pubs, grills and bars across the tri-county area.

With festivities being underway and with more cyclists on the road, attentiveness while driving is crucial to keep motorcyclists and communities safe, not only this weekend but also throughout the year whenever bikes are on the road in Wisconsin.

Statistics don’t favor motorcyclists

According to the United States Department of Transportation, in 2021, there were 5,932 motorcyclists killed — 14% of all traffic fatalities.

Just this week, in the Town of Dover in Racine County, the Kansasville Fire & Rescue Department responded to a motorcycle crash resulting in Flight for Life needing to be dispatched to assist with life-saving measures.

Collective effort

motorcycle awareness
The Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association is a group of veterans from all branches across the United States Armed Forces who ride motorcycles. – Submitted photo

“To keep everyone safe, we urge drivers and motorcyclists to share the road and be alert, and we’re reminding motorcyclists to make themselves visible, to use DOT-compliant motorcycle helmets, and to always ride sober,” says the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

It’s a collective effort between all on the road to keep the community safe.

“It’s especially important for drivers to understand the safety challenges faced by motorcyclists such as size and visibility, and motorcycle riding practices like downshifting and weaving to know how to anticipate and respond to them. By raising motorists’ awareness, both drivers and riders will be safer sharing the road,” reads the NHTSA website.

Locals offer tips

In an effort to curb casualties and keep roadways safer for everyone, local riders offer their tips on the best ways to support and help keep motorcycle awareness at the forefront of motorists’ practices.

1. Focus on eye contact

“Make eye contact with other drivers to make sure they see you,” said Ryan Anderson, Production Technician at Harley Davidson and Racine local.

2. Be mindful

It’s not just the actions of people on the road that impacts bikers. Everyday tasks at home can have an impact on cyclists.

One individual offered information about how lawn care can impact bikers.

“When people cut their grass, don’t blow your clippings into the street. If and when they get wet, it gets as slick as ice,” shared one Racine County Eye reader.

Another reader, Biker Winston Bohorquez, believes that motorcycle road awareness is key for all and is something that should be taught to people of all ages.

“Teach your kids to count motorcycles when driving, that way they’ll be more attentive to us when they grow up,” said Bohorquez.

motorcycle awareness
Winston Bohorquez and his wife Noel on their wedding day. The couple are sitting on his motorcycle. – Credit: Winston Bohorquez

3. Put down the phones

“Please stay off your phones and pay attention to stop signs, look twice, save lives,” shared Melissa Wandrey, owner of Baking Bird bakery in Union Grove.

4. Show compassion

One festival-goer who is attending the local happenings in Kenosha reminds people to be compassionate this weekend to bikers.

motorcycle awareness
Heidi LaFave, owner of Create Cafe, submitted this photo of a biker cookie from her cafe when weighing in on motorcycle awareness. – Credit: Heidi LaFave

Many bikers attending the festivities travel from across the country and the world to celebrate.

“Most are not from the area so show compassion,” said Heidi LaFave, owner of Create Cafe.

“I met a group of ladies from France and a gentleman from South Africa,” said LaFave. “I have been at Uke’s for 2 days already and they have been the most polite group ever.”

5. Give time and space

No matter where drivers are on the road, it’s a roadway occupied by vehicles of all shapes and sizes, including various cycles and bikes.

Build in the mindset to always give extra time and space to cyclists.

“Leave us some space at stoplights,” shared Bohorquez. “It takes us longer to stop and sudden stops are more dangerous for us, please don’t break check motorcycles.”

Another motorist, Dave Paczkowski from Racine knows that it’s a two ways street when it comes to advice for road users.

“Make sure you ride defensively because cars are not looking for you. And even if you think they see you … they don’t,” explained Paczkowski about how drivers should ride.

Road closures related to motorcycle festivities

In addition, Kenosha County wants to remind bikers about closures that are active in Kenosha County.

According to the government agency, the I-94 East Frontage Road is now closed to through traffic between 52nd St. and 60th St. until July 17.

The road closures are due to accommodate activities happening at Uke’s Harley Davidson related to the 120th anniversary.

“Be sure to watch for extra motorcyclists while you’re on the road,” the County stated in a Facebook status.

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