Bikers get ready for spring riding

Published 10:00 am Monday, March 29, 2010

With warmer weather coming to the area, state and local public safety officials are encouraging all motorcyclists to tune up their riding skills for the riding season.

According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, there were 52 motorcyclist fatalities across the state in 2009.

In Freeborn County there were two.

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Officials are encouraging riders to take the proper safety training so they can learn how to control their bikes in an emergency. Training teaches emergency braking, steering, cornering and swerving, as well as mental strategies used to identify problems before they lead to crashes.

“Motorcycles are more difficult to operate than other vehicles,” said State Patrol Lt. Eric Roeske, in a news release. “Many riders, even those with years of experience, do not know how to steer, swerve or stop quickly in an emergency.”

On top of that are the springtime risks of potholes, sand and ice left over from a long winter, Roeske said.

Last week, the state recorded its first crash of the riding season when a motorcycle rider and passenger were seriously injured on Interstate 94 in St. Paul. The driver lost control of the motorcycle after attempting to swerve around a mattress in the road.

Roeske said a common misconception riders have is that it is best to “lay the bike down” to avoid hitting another vehicle; however, trained riders know how to use their brakes to stop the bike without laying it down.

“It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been riding, if you’ve never taken a safety course, you are missing some vital information that may save your life,” he said.

The Minnesota Motorcycle Safety Center encourages motorcyclists to be aware of their surroundings at all times. Motorcyclists need a good mental system for observing hazards, predicting what will happen and taking steps to minimize risk.

The safety center states that riding a motorcycle is about 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical.

Albert Lea Police Lt. J.D. Carlson said his personal safety tip is to not rush the riding season.

“Wait for all snow and debris to be cleared from the roadways,” Carlson said. “Seeing the street sweepers out and about is as welcoming as seeing the first robin of the season.”

Motorcycle safety training is available statewide from April through September. Course schedules can be found at or by calling (800) 407-6677.