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Posts Tagged ‘Amber Alert Signs’

Reminiscent of the sly wizard in Frank Baum’s classic The Wizard of Oz, chances are most people have probably never heard of the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) program manager of motorcycle safety and safety standards, Michele O’Leary.

Who is Michele O’Leary?   A person who wants you to wear a helmet and protective clothing.  The person who manages the motorcycle endorsement funds and determines how it gets allocated.  But wait there’s even more…

The Statesman Journal has an interesting interview with O’Leary and it provides insight on the person behind the curtain.

First off, O’Leary came to the job with a motorcycle endorsement and owns a motorcycle!  It’s good to be able to relate to rider issues and in my book this was a step ahead of the Harley-Davidson CEO (Keith Wandell) when he was hired last year with neither.   As a member of the Governor’s Advisory Committee on motorcycle safety, O’Leary has the inside track and has been successful in getting legislation changed to increase fines/penalties on certain types of infractions deemed safety oriented.  Is that good?

I became acquainted with O’Leary as part of my safety rants back in April to do anything and everything to encourage the use of the States variable message signs (VMS) for motorcycle awareness. Those neon signs are peppered across the metro area roadways and provide information about traffic congestion and accident reports and in my little world I thought they would make an excellent public safety reminder for drivers to watch out for motorcycles.  My request was promptly denied and I got “schooled” on the ‘correct’ usage of variable message signs by the ODOT traffic engineers. Previous posts related to this subject matter at: Motorcycle Safety TacticsSpotlight On ODOTWanna Be Policy Makers.

Many might debate that we need to ‘just say no’ to the ever increasing attempts by the government to manage every aspect of our lives through increased regulation.  Others will say it’s a noble cause to help make Oregon motorcycle riders safer.  Read the interview, learn who is looking out for you and judge for yourself…

And finally, if the above wasn’t enough to digest… from the edges of the internet come information about a tornado strikes festival celebrating The Wizard of Oz.

Photo courtesy of Picasa.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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May is Motorcycle Awareness Month.

There are so many interests groups out there these days. Sometimes the noise level and the drum beat volume gets so loud that you can’t determine if they’re about discrimination or empowerment.

As a “wanna-be” policy maker I planned to get more involved in this year’s safety efforts and do more than just sit back and pontificate via this blog that May is the celebratory occasion.   But, sometimes making a difference is harder than you think.  You might recall back in February I blogged about reaching out to the various city and state government entities to advocate the usage of the “Amber Alert signs” during Motorcycle Awareness Month.  My ask was they display the words: LOOK TWICE. SHARE THE ROAD WITH MOTORCYCLES or something to that effect.  I wrote the “Gov”, but I suspect he read one of my previous “Lazy Ted” enough with the higher taxes for the working folk posts and…I got a non response, response?!  I even sent a number of emails to Oregon State Police and ODOT in hopes of getting a positive response, but was shot down in a blaze of blogging glory.  Don’t these people know who I am?  Interestingly OSP has time for a cell phone campaign, but has no enforcement effort tied to Motorcycle Awareness Month.

It’s my view that as these type of issues become more complex, these representatives are not empowered or entrusted to make on-the-fly changes and this becomes problematic whenever public servants are ask to make modifications contrary to the initial intent or it is in question with the letter of the law on sign usage.  Oh well…what seems clear cut and logical to me isn’t to them.  So be it.

But, there is good news!   There will be more visibility this year for motorcyclists because the Motorcycle Safety Program and Vehicle Safety Equipment Program Manager was successful in obtaining billboard placements around the state (see above photo). This is a FIRST in Oregon and the messages will be specifically targeted to make drivers aware of motorcycles.

The billboard placements will be on I-84 @238th, Hwy-97 (somewhere – not sure just yet) and I-5 at Keizer. Unfortunately these billboards won’t go up until June due to advertising timing. It doesn’t sync up with Motorcycle Awareness Month, but June works and is better than nothing.

The are other placements too.  They include: Transit in Portland, Salem, Albany, Corvallis, Eugene and Medford. There will be print and radio ads available to all markets and Water Closet media placements will be at “motorcycle friendly establishments” in Portland and Eugene. There is also web banner logo’s available for groups, organizations, bloggers and motorcycle dealerships to use on their website or blog. All of the placements will be up throughout the summer months, starting in May (except billboard).

All this is coming exclusively from the hard working folks in the ODOT Transportation Safety Division!  A major shout-out to Michele O’Leary for the efforts on this front and helping make Oregon a little safer for motorcycles.

Important to note is the motorcycle rally on the State Capitol that is being sponsored by BikePac this Saturday, May 1st. ODOT’s role is to read the Governor’s Proclamation that May is declared to be Motorcycle Safety Awareness month. The rest of the event is coordinated by BikePac and ODOT is not affiliated with any other part of the event.

Lastly, there is a Governor’s Advisory Committee on Motorcycle Safety and if you have the opportunity I am sure they would appreciate hearing from motorcyclists.  Their next meeting is July 16th and you’ll find logistics and email information HERE.  They always have an open spot on the agenda for any motorcycle group, organization or individual to come and speak.

Photo courtesy of ODOT and used with permission.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Motorcycle Awareness on Amber Alert Signs

The pacific northwest and Oregon in particular has an abundance of great motorcycling roads.

If you are like me you have a lot of pent up desire to get out there and hit the open highway.  The riding season is always too long in coming due to wet and cold weather, but this past weekend was outstanding for mid-February and brought out the motorcycles.   Light winds, sunny blue sky and a temperature brushing up against 60 degrees.  Wow!  Incredible spring weather two months early so I jumped on the opportunity to get out and enjoy the riding experience.

Financial crises, public debt exploding, taxes rise and unemployment lingers…all a distant memory when you’ve got the wind in your face.

Having said that I noticed a couple of items that I wanted to share my experiences.  There is no substitute for personal experience and this is that time of year I typically wear a full face helmet.  Why?  Not because it’s colder, which it is, but because just a short 5 weeks ago the ambitious ODOT road crews were “sanding” roads for the possibility of icy conditions and those ‘rocks’ are prevalent everywhere.  Nothing worse than gravel pebbles in your face.   Even with a windshield they manage to pepper your body.  Second, is the fact that “cagers” are not aware of or are they use to seeing motorcycles.  And they were out in force this weekend.  As a result,  the less observant auto-drivers make me twitchy when I’m out driving busy freeways this time of year to get to the lone two-lane blacktop.

As I cruised around I remember looking up at the freeway congestion and “Amber Alert” electronic sign on I-5 and thought about how it could be used for motorcycle safety and education efforts.  For example it could display the words: “LOOK TWICE. SHARE THE ROAD WITH MOTORCYCLES.”

The flashing signs across Oregon state would at least put a message out there in the minds of drivers to be aware.  This could be done in the spring when those warming days and sunshine bring everyone out on their motorcycles. Or at minimum during May, which is Motorcycle Awareness Month.  In the interest of being thorough I did a web search to see if the electronic display tactic had been used previously.  It turns out California Highway Patrol uses this technique as part of their campaign to reduce motorcycle-related collisions.

What do you think.  Waste of time or good suggestion?  Either way I’ve sent recommendation email to both ODOT and OSP on using the electronic signs  for motorcycle safety in May.  I’ll provide updates on any feedback or responses I receive.

Photo courtesy of Union-Tribune.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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