Traditionally, as winter eases into spring, the lure of the open road begins to attract Wisconsin’s motorcycle riders. Now that the ice and snow have melted away, it seems safe to take bikes back out on the highway and enjoy the ride again.
Not so fast, sport.
As noted recently by Rhinelander television station WJFW, less snow and ice does not necessarily mean safer roads for riders. Motorcycles are much more sensitive than four-wheeled vehicles to certain road hazards. Among the items that can be dangers to riders are:
- bumpy and rough roads
- potholes and ruts
- road debris and trash
Wisconsin riders know that winter weather tends to worsen all these hazards. The retreating snows leave the roads in poor shape—especially non-paved roads—and reveal the dirt, trash, and gravel that accumulated since fall. It’s easy to lose control of your bike on a patch of loose debris or gravel.
The dangers of road debris easily outweigh the risks from winter weather. The news report cites a 2010 Wisconsin Department of Transportation accident that found 90 percent of motorcycle crashes occurred on dry pavement.
WJFW quotes Doug Klumb, general manager of the Northern Lights Harley-Davidson store in Arbor Vitae, as saying, “Intersections are the worst because they tend to put a lot of sand down on the intersections during the winter and corners are bad because the plows drag material back onto the road. So corners and intersections are the biggies.”
Hupy and Abraham welcome the return of spring weather. Several of us own motorcycles, and we have been looking forward to the days when we can hit the road again. However, we want to remind our Wisconsin neighbors that safety should always be our top concern. We all need to be alert to hazards on the road and be prepared to avoid them—and learn how to handle our machines when we start to skid or wobble. Nothing would be better than an accident-free motorcycling season.