Motorcycles introduce extra safety considerations for riders and other motorists, and it can be especially risky for people using dirt bikes, which aren’t made to be ridden on streets.
St. Joseph Police have been having issues recently with dirt bikes being used dangerously on the Belt Highway, St. Joseph Police Sgt. James Tonn said.
“We are having issues with our crotch rockets, but we also are having issues with guys wanting to ride dirt bikes out on the road,” he said.
Dirt bikes often aren’t registered for road use, Tonn said. Even if they are registered, they don’t have all the same safety features as road bikes.
“When you’re riding a dirt bike faster than you should be at night, and you don’t have headlights because the bike doesn’t come with it, guess what?” he said. “We can’t see you. Nobody can, and when you’re running faster than you should be, it makes it even more dangerous for you.”
Tonn describes the combination as a “recipe for disaster.”
Riding between lanes isn’t as common as risks like popping a wheelie or speeding, but Tonn said it’s still an issue that should be considered.
“It’s illegal, and you are putting yourself at a huge risk,” he said. “You don’t have crumple zones or airbags, and you’re on a small vehicle where you can easily fit into someone’s blind spot, where you shouldn’t even be in the first place.”
Belt Highway is likely the target for riders on dirt bikes and sport bikes because it has ideal riding conditions, Tonn said. The road is wide with multiple lanes each direction, and it’s fairly straight to provide a large field of vision.
“I don’t have an exact answer, but I would guess that’s really what it comes down to,” he said. “It’s a lot easier to get up to the speeds that these guys are doing on the Belt, as opposed to a 25 mph residential street like Faraon and Jules (streets).”
The ultimate factor in staying safe on the road still is maintaining the speed limit because speeding decreases room for error, Tonn said.