Thunder In The Valley and motorcycle riding are important, not only to the bikers in Johnstown, but also to the people who come from all over to enjoy the festivities.
PennDOT is offering an interactive display, “Live Free Ride Alive,” so bikers can tell people why they ride.
The point of the display, which is near the Amtrak station at 47 Walnut St., is to promote motorcycle rider safety.
This is the third year that the group has been at the rally, and it’s the biggest booth it has had so far.
Riders can share their stories on the campaign’s website, Livefreeridealive.com.
The display will be open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Sunday. It asks riders to take the “Pledge To Be One Less,” which is a promise to lower motorcycle crashes and fatalities.
“This is a safety message for riders, and it’s on a biker’s level,” said Pam Kane, a safety press officer for PennDOT District 9.
“It’s a sobering aspect of being a motorist. We’ve met an amazing amount of people at this event and we hope to save lives.”
Thirty percent of fatal motorcycle crashes are from DUIs and 25 percent are speed-related, she said. Most fatal accidents happen at intersections.
“We encourage people to take the course, and we’re the only state that offers it for free,” Kane said.
The display saw a steady flow of people Friday, and organizers expect to get busier, Kane said.
Live Free Ride Alive also offers safety courses, which Kane said are always full.
A class usually accommodates eight to 15 people, and classes have been added to handle more people.
Phyllis Lang, a “rider coach” for more than 20 years, was at the booth for her first year in town with Live Free Ride Alive.
“I think this is a very good thing, and I enjoy it. I’ve had people come up to me and tell me that I saved their lives,” Lang said.
“The riders are taught skills to avoid terrible accidents.”
On the website, organizers thank riders for reducing statistics for crashes and fatalities.
They have found that crash numbers between 2010 and last year dropped from 4,018 to 3,637. Fatalities dropped from 223 to 205.
Organizers encourage everyone to take the free training course, not to drink and ride and commit to being “one less.”
Rider Bud Robinson was giving his testimony at the booth Friday.
“This course teaches you things you don’t even think of, little things like watching two or three cars in front of you,” he said.
Robinson said his daughter recently bought a motorcycle, and the first thing he told her was to take the safety course.
Robinson hadn’t ridden for 30 years before he took the safety course and began riding again five years ago.
The website also includes information on motorcycle permits and licenses, training courses, rider videos, rider messages and the full “Live Free Ride Alive” documentary.
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