Tag Archives: pandemic

Fallout from world’s biggest motorcycle rally

So what is the fallout from the 80th annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally last week, the biggest mass gathering in the world since the pandemic was declared?

Organisers had predicted attendance would be about 250,000, down from an annual average of almost half a million.

However, official figures are 365,979 which is only about 7% down on the previous year. Fewer people aged 60-70 attended as this is the age group statistically most vulnerable to COVID-19.

It seems many riders chose to thumb their noses at the pandemic.

This is despite 63% of the town’s citizens voting not to hold the rally. It went ahead anyway after a gift wholesaler in nearby Rapid City threatened to sue the council.

The world’s media was there to record the event, leaving some scratching their heads and others cheering for freedom.

Rally falloutSturgis world's biggest motorcycle rally fallout

The fallout in infection rates and deaths is yet to come as the incubation period ranges from two to 14 days.

However, the damage to motorcycling’s image may already have been done.

One of the results of the rally in the small town of Sturgis is that many of the 7000 residents, especially the elderly, will now go into a 14-day lockdown.

This will put a strain on the town’s Meals on Wheels program, so a fund was set up to collect donations for the charity.

Robert Pandya, a motorcycle industry veteran and founder of the GiveAShift motorcycling lobby group that initiated the fund drive, says they had hoped to raise $US8000.

Instead, they raised $15,750 online and collected an additional $1408 in cash along Lazelle St during the rally in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

That’s a total of $17,158 from motorcyclists and motorcycle brands both attending and electing to skip the rally.

”This was wild and completely unexpected,” says Jamie Helms, manager of the Sturgis Meals on Wheels program. “Due to COVID-19 some of our donations coming in have slowed down in the past few months, this fundraiser from the motorcycle community will help so many here in Sturgis! I am overwhelmed by the generosity!”
USA America Sturgis Rushmore South Dakota rally crowd fallout
Riders in the Black Hills of South Dakota

While the number of infections and deaths from the spread of coronavirus is not known, we do know that there were 50 crashes reported over the 10 days of the rally.

That’s up from 41 last year.

There were four fatal crashes with five people sadly losing their lives.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Rally fundraiser to aid Sturgis senior citizens

Riders are being asked to help raise $US8000 for Meals on Wheels to service senior citizens who will be advised to home quarantine after the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota.

The world’s biggest motorcycle rally from, this weekend until next weekend (8-16 August 2020) will also be the biggest mass gathering since the pandemic was declared six months ago.

Robert Pandya, a motorcycle industry veteran and founder of the GiveAShift initiative that initiated the fund drive, says “motorcyclists are incredibly generous”.

The fund-raising project should go some of the way to dispelling the image of riders flouting social distancing and risking the spread of the coronavirus through the community and taking it back home when they return after the nine-day rally.

Organisers expect about 250,000 to attend the rally which is half the usual crowd.

Sturgis Mayor Mark Carstensen says they have increased cleaning schedules and cancelled many group activities. Following the rally, a mass Covid-19 testing program will be held.

Michael Osterholm, head of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, says the rally could cause a major virus spread.

“Come mid-August to late August, early September, Sturgis will have one hell of an imprint on this country,” he says.

Senior citizensUSA America Sturgis Rushmore South Dakota rally

Meanwhile, the Sturgis Meals on Wheels (SMoW) program has already been stretched thin by the pandemic increasing need and reducing resources, says manager Jamie Helms.

“With the uncertainty of the world right now, our seniors depend on us just so that they don’t have to worry about leaving their homes where they feel safe,” he says.

“With our ageing population taking the city advice to quarantine for a couple of weeks after the rally, we are a needed service now more than ever, but we will get it done as we always do.”

Cash donations will be accepted under the blue tent at 1230 Lazelle St between 2-5pm from today (8 August) until next Saturday.

Click here for the official GoFundMe page for those who chose not to attend the event.

“We respect any riders who choose not to come to the event due to Covid, but encourage them to ‘donate a tank’ to thank and help the local seniors who have seen the rally become the most famous of its kind in the world,” Robert says.

“Supporting the Sturgis Meals on Wheels program is a natural fit for any biker and will have a hugely positive impact for local senior citizens.”

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Sturgis is biggest crowd since pandemic

Motorcycle riders are about to inherit a bad reputation around the world as hundreds of thousands crowd into the 80th annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally this weekend.

As riders start to roll into the town, organisers predict attendance will be about 250,000, down from an annual average of almost half a million.

Yet it will still be the biggest crowd of people in the one place in the world since the pandemic was declared six months ago.

That will be a tremendous black mark against motorcyclists everywhere and already America and the world’s media is massing in the small town to record the spectacle.

Vendors

The number of vendors is down from about 700-800 to 330 as some companies decide it is not worth risking the health of workers nor the associated bad image.

Harley-Davidson employees are forbidden to travel so they will not be there but will have a lot of signage at the event.

Meanwhile, Indian Motorcycle will be on hand offering demo rides.

The company vaguely claim they will do it “in a way that keeps them safe and makes sure we are keeping employees and the dealership employees safe when they are interacting”.

Crowd checks

USA America Sturgis Rushmore South Dakota rally crowd
Riders in the Black Hills of South Dakota

Town leaders say they will be handing out masks, advising social distancing and offering testing to the crowd but it is doubtful many of the freedom-loving riders will comply.

They say there is little likelihood of transmission in the outdoors event, although a lot of the activities do take place in close quarters and in clubs, hotels and inside venues.

Currently South Dakota is recording about 75 new cases a day and increasing.

In April, the Smithfield pork processing plant in Sioux Falls became what was then the nation’s largest coronavirus hot spot when more than 600 staff contracted the virus.

So far, the state has recorded 9273 cases and 141 deaths with four in the past day.

Death projections for the state are 250 by December 1 as restrictions ease. That could be reduce to 180 if masks were made mandatory.

However, South Dakota is among several states that has not locked down nor made masks mandatory.

Those projections for deaths don’t take into account the Sturgis rally.

Nor do they show how the virus can be spread in other states and countries as rally goers head home, taking the infection with them.

As this becomes evident, the stigma that motorcyclists have spread the virus will taint riders everywhere.

Vote against rally

Of the 7000 Sturgis citizens, 63% voted not to hold the rally, but a gift wholesaler in nearby Rapid City threatened to sue the council.

Sturgis City Council member Terry Keszler says they should have postponed or cancelled the rally in March.

However, Doreen Allison Creed, Meade County commissioner who represents Sturgis, says the county lacked the authority to shut down the rally because much of it takes place on state-licensed campgrounds.

“We are either going to be a great success story or failure,” she says.

“I truly believe it could not have been stopped.”

The state’s Department of Tourism has estimated that the annual festival generates about $800 million in revenue.

Warning

Neighbouring Minnesota Department of Health commissioner Jan Malcolm called the decision to go ahead with the event “disappointing”.

Malcolm and other state public health leaders have warned that the rally could be a potential petri dish for spreading the virus here and across the nation.

Michael Osterholm, head of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, says the rally could cause a major virus spread.

“Come mid-August to late August, early September, Sturgis will have one hell of an imprint on this country,” he says.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Riders help relay COVID-19 tests

Bloodbikes Australia is playing an integral part in transporting COVID-19 tests from suburban testing centres to medical laboratories.

Founder Peter Davis says they recently extended their free service offers from delivering blood to other medical products including breast milk.

However, they are currently being primarily deployed to take COVID-19 tests to medical laboratories.

“Our first runs of COVID samples started with our Sydney volunteer, Richard Alder, for St Vincents,” Peter says.

“It involved delivering consumables, label bags etc, picking up samples from the temporary testing stations and getting it to St Vincent’s Sydney laboratory for analysis.”

Bloodbikes Australia has become an integral part of transporting COVID-19 tests from testing centres to medical laboratories.
Richard picks up a sample

Tests ramped up

Two Bloodbikes Australia Brisbane volunteers have now stepped into the breach for Mater Pathology as thousands of residents of southern Brisbane and Logan City have queued up for hours to be tested following a new outbreak.

“Given the increased testing and the temporary, drive-through testing stations, the Mater Pathology couriers just couldn’t cover all the runs,” Peter says.

“Rather than delay analysis and results they called on Bloodbikes Australia, which is exactly our charter to fill in when all else fails.”

Peter has run samples from Metro Medical Centre Springfield Lakes and fellow volunteer Nick Carrigan has taken samples from a temporary testing centre in Cleveland.

Bloodbkes Australia tests
Nick picks up a sample

Both are delivering the tests to the Mater Laboratory at Mater Hill in South Brisbane.

“It was so great to feel like you’re helping in the COVID fight rather than being an observer,” says Nick.

Peter says the Canberra Bloodbikes Australia Volunteers may soon be doing test runs for the Canberra Hospital.

He called on people in medical services to contact him about providing services.

He says volunteers can contact the Bloodbikes Australia Facebook as demand for their services ramps up with the second wave of coronavirus infections.

Volunteers can also email Peter Davis on [email protected]

Peter recently rode to NSW and the ACT recently to visit volunteers before borders started closing down.

He says they now have 87 volunteers Australia wide on the NSW Central Coast, Sydney, Canberra. Western NSW, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia.

Bloodbikes background

Bloodbikes started in Manchester, UK in 2011 and Peter launched Bloodbikes Australia in September 2019.

Volunteers make deliveries when all other methods have been exhausted and time is critical.

“It was started because there were circumstances when a motorcycles can be a lot faster than a car in making urgent deliveries of blood to where it is required,” Peter says.

Blood he has delivered has been used in surgery as well as transfusions for cancer patients.

Peter delivers blood supplies to the Mater Hospital
Peter delivers blood supplies to the Mater Hospital

“Bloodbikes Australia is entirely voluntary. We volunteer our time, fuel and motorcycles,” Peter says.

“We are not an emergency service and abide by all the road rules and speed limits. We are not police or ambulance ‘wannabes’.

“We are just motorcycle enthusiasts who want to make our passion for riding available to do some good in the community.”

As an essential medical service, urgent deliveries would also be exempt from any travel restrictions during the current pandemic.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

5 Best Practices for Motorcycle Riding During the COVID-19 Pandemic

(Contributed post for our North American readers)

Since the COVID-19 pandemic caused worldwide upheaval and triggered a flurry of policies on social distancing, minimal travel and staying at home, the motorcycle community has been abuzz wondering what this means for them. While motorcycling has social distancing advantages over other means of commute such as cars and public transit, COVID-19 is an unprecedented, evolving and complex situation that is not yet fully understood. 

That said, and based on what is known about the novel coronavirus so far, here’s a look at some of the best practices for motorcycling.

For some motorcyclists, riding is a necessity and part of their routine commute to work. If that’s the case for you, enjoy the open road. However, if your riding is recreational, you should avoid your motorbike as much as possible. 

Though it’s safer than public transit as far as COVID-19 is concerned, there are multiple ways that motorcycle riding still places you and those around you at risk of virus transmission. 

  • Be Smart If You Have to Ride

Staying indoors for days on end comes with its own set of problems. It can increase stress and dampen your spirits. While interacting with members of your household can provide some respite, it does not quite deliver the same degree of relaxation as a motorbike ride on the open road does. 

Riding calms the soul, clears the mind and injects a unique joy. Nevertheless, if you do choose to take a recreational ride periodically, do so via pre-planned routes that will minimize your interaction with others.

  • Ride a Loop

One of the good things about riding a motorcycle is you are usually alone. No passengers to insist that you stop somewhere you don’t want to. Keep your rides brief by following a continuous loop that starts and ends at your home.

Avoid contact with any other person or group along the way. However, if you feel the need to inject a social element in your experience, consider using a GoPro camera to capture and share the view with friends and family.

  • Hazards Aren’t Absent

Just because the vehicle and pedestrian traffic has diminished, doesn’t mean the roads are free of life-threatening hazards. In fact, the risk of certain hazards such as wildlife and debris is elevated because you don’t have the benefit of drivers ahead of you sounding the alarm. 

Stay alert and be prepared to respond to any unexpected situation on the road when it does arise. Don’t assume that empty roads are an opportunity to test your limits. Actually, exercise more caution and restraint, since help might not be forthcoming as quickly as it normally would in the event of an accident. States like Texas have relatively lax motorbike helmet laws. That said, err on the side of caution and wear one.

  • Use the Time to Perform Maintenance

Staying at home doesn’t mean suspending all physical activity. The more idle time you have on your hands, the more likely you are to suffer emotional distress. Keep yourself occupied by taking a look at your motorcycle. 

Perhaps you haven’t performed maintenance on it for a while. Even if you have, it might be a great time to do some thorough adjusting, lubricating and cleaning that you’d otherwise not have the time to do. Get dirty, reconnect with your bike and have some fun while you’re at it.

The best practices here are a guideline. Ultimately, you have to exercise good judgment in determining what is the best thing to do as a motorcyclist in your area with these unique circumstances. 

Remember that you aren’t really alone, nor will you be riding on clear roads. Pedestrians, cyclists and other motorists will still occupy the road with you. They might stop where you stop. If you or they are infected but asymptomatic, there’s a risk of transmission. 

In the worst-case scenario, you may be involved in a crash that requires you to be rushed to the hospital, occupy bed and ER space that could have been available for a critically ill COVID-19 patient.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

French close fest, USA rally still on

While a motorcycle festival in France has been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, the world’s biggest motorcycle rally in the USA will go ahead next week despite almost 1000 Americans dying every day.

Wheels and Waves

Even a week ago, the Wheels & Waves event at the Biarritz Lighthouse in France, was a goer and Hedon helmets even launched a limited-edition Wheels & Waves 2020 open-face Hedonist helmet worth $A711.

Hedonist helmet
Hedon Wheels and Waves helmet

However, the festival which had already been postponed from June to 3-6 September 2020 has now been further postponed to June 2021 for their 10th event.

“The intensification of the situation has made it impossible for us to continue to prepare the ‘Hors Serie’ (out of series) edition as we imagined it at the beginning of June,” officials say.

“And even if we were to bring the project to fruition, where would the pleasure be in coming together without the spontaneity, coolness, craziness and freedom?

“What is the point in holding an event based on exchange and sharing at a time when everywhere we go, we have to keep our distance?”

In France, only a handful of deaths from coronavirus are recorded daily, with 184k confirmed cases, 81,311 recovered and 30,223 deaths so far.

Sturgis Motorcycle RallySturgis rally motorcycle rally usa

Main Street at the 2014 Sturgis rally

In the USA, about 1000 Americans die every day from the virus. There have been more than 4.4m cases in the USA and a total of more than 152,000 deaths so far.

Yet in the land of freedom and litigation, the 80th annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally will go ahead from 7-16 August 2020.

This is despite 62% of the 7000 people who live in Sturgis, South Dakota, voting last month against holding the famous rally, the biggest tourist event in the state.

It seems that vote was overturned by threats of litigation from a gift wholesaler based in nearby Rapid City.

The rally has attracted about half a million people in recent years with a record of 2015 of 739,000.

Authorities still expect several hundred thousand to attend the rally.

That’s hundreds of thousands of people from all over the USA and perhaps from many other countries coming to the small rural town.

There they could spread or pick up the virus, then take it back to their home state or country.

Rally organisers and city officials say they will have various “modifications” for health reasons which you can hear about in this video from Sturgis Mayor Mark Carstensen.

The Black Hills Motorcycle Film Festival which was to be part of the rally will now be held online from 14-16 August for free! Click here for details.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Riders in the dark over face masks

Victorian police and health officials have left motorcycle riders in the dark over whether helmets are suitable and legal substitutes for face masks.

The move to mandatory face masks in Melbourne City and Mitchell Shire from Thursday (23 July 2020) comes as coronavirus infection rates spiral.

The measures could soon be matched in NSW where there is talk of further restrictions similar to countries around the world that are mandating masks when in public.

Masks clarification

MV COVID mask
MV Agusta has launched the COVID mask which is not guaranteed to protect!

Riders confused about the new direction and $200 fine have called for clarification on the measures.

So I contacted the Victorian Police and they simply replied:

The interpretation of Chief Health Officer restrictions is a matter for the Department of Health and Human Services. I recommend you contact DHHS with your questions.

So I did.

First, I checked the Victorian Health Department website which answers some of these questions.

It says that the mask can be either a cloth mask or a one-use surgical mask that covers both the mouth and nose. Click here for more details.

If your pillion is under 18, they do not have to wear a mask.

However, it notes that a scarf or bandana does not offer the same amount of protection as well-fitted face masks:

This is due to the type of fabrics they are made from. Properly constructed cloth masks are made from at least three layers of materials, including a water-resistant outer layer.

So that may rule out most motorcycle face masks.VLAD Act Vlad laws

Whether police would be concerned about judging the thickness of materials is doubtful but it could depend on whether a rider they have pulled over gives them a hard time!

It still doesn’t answer the question about whether a helmet is an approved substitute for a face mask.

The health department is obviously busy trying to sort out the rapid-fire changes, so they hadn’t responded to my calls and emails by the time of publication. I will update if/when they do.

‘Madness’

John Eacott

Meanwhile, riders remain in the dark and Australian Motorcycle Council spokesman John Eacott says it’s “madness with everyone offering opinions but no facts.”

He says powered two-wheelers don’t feature in the health department website and points to this section which refers to cars which he says may carry across to PTWs:

DO YOU HAVE TO WEAR A MASK WHILE DRIVING?

If you are driving in a car by yourself or with a member of your household, you do not need to wear a face mask but you should carry one with you for when you exit the vehicle. If you are in a car with other people for work or rideshare purposes then you must wear a mask.

That should mean a helmet is ok, but when you stop you will have to don a mask.

That would make sense and heed UK motorcycle riding surgeon Dr Tommy Lim’s warning to riders about wearing a mask under their helmet.

He told Visordown that riders could blackout if they wear a surgical mask under a full-face or modular motorcycle helmet.

Dr Lim said the material that filtered particles before they entered the lungs could reduce oxygen to riders and potentially cause a blackout:

Surgical masks restrict your breathing. This can be fatal at high speeds when your adrenalin kicks in. Adrenalin will cause your heartbeat to double depending on your speed. This, in effect, will make you breathe faster and these masks will restrict your breathing and give your heart a hard time. Next, your brain will also suffer due to lack of oxygen until you blackout.

I think riders are smart enough to realise they should open their vents and/or visor for more air.

Conclusion

In the end, perhaps you should heed the advice of Premier Daniel Andrews:

The rules are to serve all of us and I will just say that if you have a question in your mind, should I be doing this, the answer almost certainly is no. You should not.

On behalf of all Aussie riders, I wish those riders affected by the lockdown the best of health!

Masks
Source: World Health Organisation

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Will COVID rev up motorcycle riding?

A positive by-product of the COVID-19 pandemic seems to be a renewed interest in the open road, with motorcycle rider training on the increase across the world.

It is understandable that as lockdowns ease, people have a renewed interest in outdoor activities and place more value on freedom. And isn’t that what motorcycling is all about?

COVID safe

Riding a bike is also commensurate with the COVID hygiene requirements of social distancing, wearing a face covering and protecting your fingers from contact with germs.

Is it any wonder that sales of new motorcycles are starting to rebound, used motorbike demand is up and rider training is increasing?

Rise in learners

Stay Upright in Australia reports a 20% increase in demand across their locations (NSW, Victoria, Queensland and ACT) since the lockdown started to ease.

New licence approvals in Queensland (the only state that answered our queries) shows a massive rise in the past couple of months.

In the first six months of 2019, there were 3901 pre-learner certificates granted and 4040 RE licences granted.

In the first six months of this year, which includes three months of lockdown, pre learners were up 34% to 5242 and RE licences up 19% to 4819.

The months of May and June are usually slow for rider licences as the country gets colder.

Last year there were only 1305 licences approved in May and June, while this year it’s 2002, a massive rise of 61% in the two months since lockdown measures started to ease.

Stay Upright GM Annaliesse Cawood says there is no sign of the trend letting up.

In Australia, motorcycle sales rebounded 24.5% in the second quarter over the same period in 2019, representing a huge turn-around over the first quarter when sales were down 2.5%.

But the biggest rises are in learner-approved motorcycles.

Learner riders Stay Upright covid LAMS
Learner-approved motorcycle sales Q2

With all these new riders coming to our roads, Stay Upright has also called for motorists to exercise patience, look twice for riders and check their blind spots.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

COVID covers protect motorcycle riders

As Victoria considers stage 4 lockdowns, perhaps they should implement these COVID-19 covers that protect riders from their contagious pillions!

Two types of covers have been officially approved for use on motorcycle taxis in the Phillipines.

However, the government has not approved makeshift covers for other riders as they say they could be dangerous.

But that hasn’t stopped some riders who have invented their own protectors.

Joan Melani Mateo shared this photo on Facebook of the steel and plastic shield made by her husband Noel Alapar.covid covers

The Philippines and some other Asian countries, have limited pillions to married couples and partners only and they have advised them to wear face masks, gloves and helmets.

To prove their re­la­tion­ship, hus­bands and wives are re­quired to present their mar­riage con­tract to authorities while com­mon-law cou­ples and live-in part­ners must have IDs showing they are liv­ing at the same address.

Meanwhile, one Uganda taxi driver who disobeyed the coronavirus curfew has committed suicide in a police station after his bike was impounded.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

How to apply for a Queensland entry pass

If you are planning a ride across the Queensland border you will now have to apply online for a new entry pass as the previous pass is no longer valid.

That means Queensland riders wanting to ride to another state and return as well as visitors from other states.

Note that the new Queensland Entry Declaration is only valid for seven days so you may have to reapply every time you cross the border!

However, it takes less than a minute to fill out the questionnaire and I received the confirmation email with attached pass within seconds of submitting my request.Border entry pass

The printed entry pass will allow residents and some non-residents to go back and forth across the border.

It needs to be displayed on your vehicle, otherwise riders can keep it in their jacket pocket and produce it at the border.

Queensland Police Deputy Commissioner Gollschewski says you will also have to carry identification which shows your residential address.

You can get your Queensland Entry Declaration by clicking here.

Queensland Police say they are revising their border checkpoint processes to “enable a more seamless crossing for those travelling from states other than Victoria”.

Border entry

Queensland borders reopen from 10 July 2020 to visitors from all states and territories other than Victoria.

That means riders will still need to fill in the new entry pass.

Queensland can leave and return, but should avoid travelling to Victoria.

It also means riders from all other states and territories can enter Queensland so long as they have not been to Victoria in the past 14 days.

However, some border crossings, such as Numinbah Valley and the Lions Rd will remain closed with a concrete barrier.

They will likely remain that way so long as Queensland’s borders require monitoring by police.

Lions Rd borderLions Rd Qld/NSW border still closed

Failure to comply with Queensland’s quarantine directions and border entry restrictions can result in on-the-spot fines of $1334 for individuals and $6672 for corporations.

If you lie on your declaration or are entering Queensland unlawfully, you face a $4003 fine.

Anyone who has travelled from Victoria and enters Queensland from today (3 July), including Queenslanders, will have to quarantine at their own expense for 14 days.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com