Today's Edition About us Local Opinion Obits Sports Things to do Classifieds Newsletters Podcasts Contact us

Rally riders want drivers to watch for them

by Joe Gamm | May 5, 2022 at 4:00 a.m.
A couple of dozen motorcylists paraded to the Missouri Capitol Wednesday, May 4, 2022, as part of Freedom of the Road Riders Rally and Lobby Day. The group gathered at American Legion Post 5 and left en masse to arrive at the Capitol as one group, after which they gathered inside for the rally and to lobby legislators. (Julie Smith/News Tribune photo)

An annual motorcycle rally caused the rumble heard 'round the Missouri Capitol early Wednesday afternoon.

Freedom of Road Riders of Missouri's 22nd annual Mike Sloan Memorial Rally, which starts at American Legion Post 5, always ends alongside the Capitol's south lawn.

Several dozen riders made the trip in solidarity for the rights of all motorcyclists.

The annual trip provides a chance for participants to share their concerns with lawmakers. For years, participants pleaded with lawmakers to remove the state's helmet laws. The Legislature did so in 2020.

This year's event focused on finding a solution to distracted drivers, said Joe Widmer, the organization's legislative coordinator.

"We've been trying to push a driver's ed bill," Widmer said. "Distracted driving is another big issue with us that they don't seem to want to work on here."

Widmer said the organization is also asking the Legislature to change statutes and allow motorcyclists to use any color of decorative "ground effects" lighting on their bikes that they wish.

"I think there are a lot of motorcyclists out there now, who are riding with them anyway," he said. "I don't know how big an issue that is."

A significant reason for the rally was to remind drivers that motorcycles are out on the roads.

"We lose so many of our people -- all the time -- that we need to let people know that we're on the road, and they need to watch for us," Deanna Rhodes-Widmer said.

The organization was a vocal supporter of Missouri's 2020 legislation that gave adults the choice of whether to wear helmets. About 20 percent of riders Wednesday chose to wear helmets.

Missouri Highway Patrol data show the number of fatalities involving motorcycles has increased about 25 percent since the new helmet law went into effect.

"We have people now coming into our state who wouldn't do it before," Rhodes-Widmer said. "They wouldn't do it before because they were from a 'no- helmet' state. They didn't want to buy a helmet just to come through our state."

However, she said, a lot of the fatalities are people in cars who aren't paying attention.

Missouri needs laws with teeth to them, she continued.

"Especially when they kill or maim someone, they need some teeth with that," she said. "Buckle-Up, Phone-Down laws would absolutely help. We testify for bills like that, and they never go anywhere."

Print Headline: Rally riders want drivers to watch for them


Sponsor Content