Warmer weather brings renewed focus on motorcycle safety
There's limited time to spend on a motorcycle here in Iowa, due to the weather. But once the temperatures go up, and the snow is clear, it's easy to find places to enjoy the ride.
"In about 10 minutes, you can be out of the town and enjoy the fun," William Bloomhall, owner of Black Stock Motorcycle Company in Cedar Rapids, said. "Just be careful of the gravel roads."
Besides selling bikes, Bloomhall's shop also stores motorcycles during the winter. With the nicer weather, more owners are coming to retrieve their bikes. At that time, Bloomhall recommends going over tire pressure and making sure lights work.
"We recommend every 5,000 miles do a service, and every spring good idea to do a safety check," Bloomhall said.
He also asks bikers to let him know where sandy spots are, so he can alert others.
"In Iowa, we have pretty good winters, and this winter was a hefty one so there's a lot of sand out there," Bloomhall said.
Sand, which is helpful during the Winter to give automobiles traction in snow and ice, is just one of the possible road obstructions that can turn a nice day on the open road into a problem.
"You hit that sand, and there isn't a third or fourth wheel to keep you centered," Marion Police officer Tom Daubs said. "So, just be mindful of that."
Police have also noticed the increased motorcycle usage this week. According to them, the start of Spring is a good reminder to share the road; that means using blinkers, checking blind spots, and monitoring speed.
"As a police officer, I've worked more than my fair share of motorcycle crashes, and I've never heard anyone say, ’Officer I was going too slow,’" Daubs said. "I’ve never heard that.”
Leftover sand can be cleaned up by road maintenance crews, but usually, it just gets swept away by the Spring rains. This week could help, with rain expected on multiple days.
But, no matter the conditions, there is always one thing bikers can do to protect themselves.
"First things first, you want to wear a helmet," Bloomhall said. "A lot of guys don't like doing it, some of the old guys, but it's pretty necessary. I've got kids, so it’s a huge safety thing to do."
Iowa is only one of three states where wearing a helmet isn't required by law for any rider. The other two are Illinois and New Hampshire. 28 states only require some riders to wear helmets, usually those under a certain age. 19 states require helmets for all motorcycle riders.
Officers also suggest bikers wear bright colored vests, so others can easily spot them.