FALCONER — Motorcycles can be a tempting escape on a nice, summer day. But for those who choose to ride them — and for those driving around them — safety is a must.
So said County Executive Vince Horrigan, who on Friday joined other local officials at the Harley-Davidson of Jamestown shop in Falconer as part of his 100 Days of Summer Safety Campaign.
The campaign, which launched in May, challenges residents to practice safety from Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day Weekend while enjoying family vacations and recreational activities.
With motorcycles becoming increasingly popular, Horrigan said biker safety is an essential part of the campaign.
“Motorcycles are very popular on our roads, but oftentimes a tragedy can strike,” he said. “So we just want to remind the public that with these beautiful machines, a bit of safety is really important, not just for those riding motorcycles, but vehicle operators as well.”
Joe Gerace, Chautauqua County sheriff, said the county suffers at least one motorcycle tragedy a year.
Earlier this month, a motorcyclist from Forestville, identified as 61-year-old William G. Wagner, was killed when struck by a vehicle in Hanover.
Gerace said the accident is still under investigation.
“We encourage motorists to think about motorcycles when they’re approaching intersections and pulling out into the highway,” he said. “For the motorcyclist, be responsible, dress appropriately, don’t drink and drive and drive your motorcycle like you’re invisible to other drivers because that’s how you have to act to be safe.”
Shelly Wells, public health planner for the Chautauqua County Department of Health and Human Services, shared data from the Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research.
For 2016, there were a total of 4,902 crashes in New York State and 42 crashes in Chautauqua County, she said. Of those incidents, 133 crashes statewide were fatal with no fatalities reported for Chautauqua County.
“I encourage drivers to look twice and save a life,” Wells said.
Mike Volpe, senior paramedic with the county office of emergency services, emphasized the importance of protective gear.
“Helmets are critical in helping prevent head injuries during a crash or fall from a motorcycle and should always be securely fastened to your head when you ride,” Volpe said.
“EMS providers have seen first-hand how helmets, leather jackets and other protective gear do an excellent job protecting the motorcyclist from serious injury. Injuries such as closed head injuries, serious fractures, wounds and abrasions are very common in motorcycle accidents when proper protection is not utilized.”
Matt Eyring, general manager of Harley Davidson of Jamestown, encouraged riders to make sure their bikes are in proper operating condition.
Before every ride, he said, riders should check the air pressure and general wear and tread of their tires; check oil and fluid levels; check their headlights, taillight, turn signals and brake light; make sure the clutch and throttle work smoothly; clean and adjust their mirrors; and try their brakes and horn.
“Harley Davidson, like other manufacturers, is adding technology to their motorcycles to keep riders safe and make other drivers more aware of their presence,” Eyring said. “Some of these features include linked ABS braking, additional brake lights, and better lighting to name a few.”
Motorcyclists are also encouraged to get formal training and take refresher courses. To locate the Motorcycle Safety Foundation hands-on RiderCourse nearest you, call 1-800-446-9227 or visit www.msf-usa.org.