By Senator Patty Ritchie
Whether it’s to save money on gas, or to get outside and enjoy the warmer weather, there are a number of reasons why more and more people are hitting the road on motorcycles in the Central and Northern New York regions.
On New York State roadways, the number of motorcycles has increased 12 percent over five years.
In Jefferson, St. Lawrence and Oswego counties, motorcycle registrations in have grown by 31 percent, 21 percent and 16 percent respectively during that time period to more than 13,800.
As the number of bikes on the road has increased, so has the number of accidents. According to the most recent data from Department of Motor Vehicles, in 2011, there were 5,336 motorcycle accidents across New York State, including 168 fatalities. 2,928 of those crashes involved one or more additional vehicles.
In light of the increased number of motorcycles and the number of severe accidents, I’ve stepped up my efforts to encourage people in Central and Northern New York to safely share the road.
In early June, I joined with the New York State Thruway to urge drivers to use greater caution.
At my request, the Thruway used its electronic Variable Message Signs (VMS) to flash the messages “Watch for Motorcycles” and “Share the Road” on sign boards across their system, from Buffalo to the New York City line and also including Central New York.
An estimated 750,000 motorists who use the highway each day could see the signs.
This weekend, the New York State Department of Transportation will follow suit as bikers hit the road and head to Alexandria Bay for the region’s popular Thousand Islands River Run Motorcycle Rally.
Throughout the seventh annual event, the DOT will be using more than a dozen VMS throughout the Alexandria Bay region to make sure people are aware of the high volume of bikes on the road.
Last week, the Senate unanimously passed my bill to improve motorcycle safety by adding motorcycle awareness training to the DMV’s mandatory, pre-licensing courses.
As I write this, my bill – which also passed unanimously in the Senate in 2012 – has been sent to the Assembly.
When you’re out on the road this summer, I encourage you to look twice and be careful on our roadways.
For more information how to exercise caution, visit www.dmv.ny.gov/motorcycles
There, you’ll find tips on how to safely share the road, whether you’re on two wheels or on four.