Sturgis Rally

A lone biker rides through Badlands National Park on Monday in South Dakota. The park is a popular day trip for motorcyclists attending the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Hundreds of thousands of bikers descend on Sturgis and the surrounding community each year.

Chris Huber, Rapid City Journal

Ron Grant and his wife, Carol, were both wearing helmets Tuesday afternoon as he parked their red Harley-Davidson at a rest stop in Spearfish, South Dakota.

The Ohio residents, who were visiting the state to attend the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, said they think it’s important to take safety precautions.

“We don’t want to die,” Carol said. “It’s just the smart thing to do.”

State troopers would likely be proud of the conscientious couple.

About 30 officers with the South Dakota Highway Patrol and the Wyoming Highway Patrol gathered at the rest stop earlier that afternoon for an informal meeting about the annual Safe 2 Sturgis campaign.

The campaign is a joint effort between the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the highway patrols of Wyoming, South Dakota, Colorado, Nevada and Utah, said Sgt. Kyle McKay, the public information officer for the Wyoming Highway Patrol.

“Our goal is to promote motorcycle safety awareness,” he explained. “We see a lot of people traveling [on motorcycles] on the highway without the safety equipment we recommend.”

Motorcyclists should wear helmets, dress in reflective gear at night and opt for leather clothing to help prevent skin abrasions during a crash, according to McKay.

Like all drivers, they should also keep a safe distance from other vehicles, follow the speed limit and avoid driving when they are impaired, he added.

The public information officer said officials try to spread this message using billboards, social media and press releases.

Col. Kebin Haller with the Wyoming Highway Patrol said there have been no Sturgis-related motorcycle fatalities in Wyoming so far this year but said the state typically sees the highest number of deadly motorcycle crashes in August.

The rally in recent years has drawn more than 700,000 participants from around the country and the world, and many of these people travel through Wyoming during some part of their trip, he explained.

“We want this to be a positive experience,” he said.

Although there are dangers involved with riding a motorcycle, it can also be an amazing experience, Ron said.

“It’s a free feeling,” he explained. “I can’t imagine life without a motorcycle.”

Carol agreed.

“It’s so much nicer than a car,” she said. “You just feel like you’re part of everything.”

Katie King covers the city of Casper.


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