Motorcycle Awareness campaign could save someone’s life

EXETER — Brenda Brown and Claude Jones are two motorcycle riders who have seen enough accidents.

They, along with the members of the Lake Huron Steel Riders motorcycle club and the Association of Bikers for Awareness, Training and Education (ABATE) Ontario, will be spreading a safety message during the second annual Motorcycle Awareness Campaign, kicking off May 21 at locations across southern Ontario.

Jones is a promotional rep for ABATE Ontario, who’s personally experienced three motorcycle accidents, all of which, he says, could have easily resulted in his death.

“The first thing I got from the three accidents I’ve been in is ‘Oh, I didn’t see you,’” he said. “Only through my motorcycle riding experience was I able to minimize greater bodily damage to myself.”

Along with Brown, the president of the Lake Huron Steel Horse Riders, the two want to encourage everyone who shares the roads with bikers to look twice, since that could save a life.

Brown’s decision to get involved in motorcycle safety was prompted by simply getting tired of hearing about so many motorcycle accidents.

According to the Huron County OPP, there were about 25 motorcycle-related deaths in Ontario last year.

The awareness campaign coincides with May being Motorcycle Awareness Month, which started in 1986.

This year, on the 30th anniversary of Motorcycle Awareness Month, a kick-off ceremony was held at city hall in Ottawa on April 24.

Hansen’s Independent Grocer in Exeter will be allowing use of its parking lot from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. during the awareness campaign day May 21, where members of the riding associations will be there to hand out brochures with safety tips for cyclists and drivers.

“The number of motorcycle fatalities continues to grow each year,” said Jones. “We hope that through awareness and education we can decrease, or even eliminate, these terrible statistics.”

Two locations in particular will have something more than information pamphlets.

In Owen Sound, the bikers will be out at Staples Business Supplies at 1077 10th Street W., and in Woodstock, the bikers will be at the Zehrs Market at 969 Dundas Street.

At both of those locations, local police, fire and EMS professionals will be demonstrating their life-saving techniques using a mock-accident scene.

The remaining campaign locations will be in Kincardine at the Sobeys at 814 Durham Street, Goderich at the Canadian Tire at 35430 Huron Road, and in Bayfield at the Food Land at 18 Eugene Street.

Preparing mock-motorcycle crash scenes isn’t easy, and requires finding a crashed motorcycle that could be used.

Next year, Jones is hoping that every location will be able to have an accident scene, and then they will have the scenes at every location on alternating years after that.

“We want to do it every other year so it’s not as much work,” Jones said. “We hope to bring greater awareness and knowledge to drivers with whom they share the roadway, and better prepare motorcycle riders to make themselves more visible, and safe, while driving.”

The accident scenes are important for getting across the message, Jones explained because having the wreckage right in front of you is more “in your face.”

Also during the campaign, people will be able to speak with motorcycle riders who have really been in accidents, which will hopefully make the need for safety less abstract to the average person and help bring the seriousness of the situation into the light.

Motorcycle Awareness Month started three decades ago when eight motorcycle clubs in the Ottawa area began sharing information about proposed dates for charity rides, as well as other events. The conversations gradually started to centre around how to enhance safety in the community. With support from the Society of Ottawa Area Riders (SOAR), the awareness month was soon adopted by Ottawa.

May is an important time of year to be promoting road safety. After the long winter lull, many bikers dust off their motorcycles so they can take them out in the spring weather.

ABATE Ontario was formed in 1988 and incorporated in 1990, and not all members own or even ride motorcycles.

ABATE’s purpose is to work toward freedom of the road and ensuring that the motorcyclist safety, rider education and awareness are promoted.