Archive for Friday, September 9, 2011

Lawrence motorcycle club reminding drivers about safety in wake of fatal accident

September 9, 2011


Members of the Lawrence Sport Bike Association took a memorial ride in honor of Josh Skipton, who was killed in a wreck on Iowa Street, and stopped at the crash site, where a cross has been placed. The group included Ahmed Alyousef, kneeling at the cross, and Matt Kaufmann, standing at center.

Members of the Lawrence Sport Bike Association took a memorial ride in honor of Josh Skipton, who was killed in a wreck on Iowa Street, and stopped at the crash site, where a cross has been placed. The group included Ahmed Alyousef, kneeling at the cross, and Matt Kaufmann, standing at center.

As he rides his motorcycle daily from his Lawrence apartment to his job in De Soto, Kyle Robbins doesn’t think most drivers are looking for motorcycles.

“I almost get hit every day,” he said. “People are not paying attention, especially pulling out of places.”

Robbins, of the Lawrence Sport Bike Association, said the club is working to spread awareness about motorcycle safety after the Aug. 31 death of club member Josh Skipton, 23, who was killed on Iowa Street near University Drive while riding his motorcycle home from his job as a salesman at Briggs Auto Group.

Lawrence police said last week they believe Skipton was following another northbound vehicle too closely and crossed the center line to avoid a collision.

When Skipton, who was wearing a helmet and protective gear, went into oncoming traffic, a southbound 1996 Ford Econoline van struck Skipton’s motorcycle. A coroner’s investigator said a preliminary test found no alcohol or drugs in his system.

According to the Kansas Department of Transportation, 12 fatality accidents in Douglas County between 2006 and 2010 have involved motorcycles. Skipton’s was the first motorcycle accident involving a fatality in 2011.

But Robbins said there have been other recent injury accidents involving motorcycles in the area, and he said drivers should expect to see riders on streets and highways in nice weather this fall.

The sport bike association and Kansas Highway Patrol offer these safety tips to help keep motorcyclists safe:

• Always allow a motorcyclist a full lane and always check your mirrors and blind spots before changing lanes or entering an intersection to make sure a motorcyclist is not nearby.

• Use your signals before changing lanes.

• Allow more distance, three to four seconds, when following a motorcycle to give the motorcyclist enough time to maneuver or stop in an emergency.

• Motorcyclists should always wear a helmet and protective gear and turn their headlights on.

• Motorcyclists should avoid driving near the center lane where debris and oil from vehicles can build up.

Lawrence police Capt. Dan Ward, who has ridden a motorcycle since he was a teenager, said motorcyclists, no matter their level of experience, should frequently work on honing their skills by taking safety courses.

Riding is dangerous because often what could be a normal fender-bender collision between vehicles can be more serious when it involves a motorcycle because the motorcyclist is less protected compared with drivers of a car, van or truck.

“You have to drive defensively 100 percent of the time,” Ward said, “and be in control.”


gsxr600 4 years, 2 months ago

"so far police said it appeared he tried to stop suddenly in northbound traffic and someone went into the southbound lane where he was struck by a van in oncoming traffic."

This doesn't make any sense to me.

DillonBarnes 4 years, 2 months ago

As KUweatherman pointed below, probably was suppose to be "somehow". He was heading northbound and had to suddenly stop and went left into those lanes of traffic.

John Hamm 4 years, 2 months ago

Because it should read "somehow" instead of "someone."

CreatureComforts 4 years, 2 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Curtis Lange 4 years, 2 months ago

Probably meant 'somehow' instead of 'someone.'

This safety talk works both ways too. Who are notoriously the worst motorcyclists when it comes to driving/riding safely down public streets/highways? Sports bikes. Kind of ironic for them to be preaching safety. Walk the walk before talking the talk.

jhawk0097 4 years, 2 months ago

Amen. I recently witnessed a guy on a sport bike w/o a helmet popping a wheelie in traffic doing 70+ down I-25 in Colorado Springs.

Ron Holzwarth 4 years, 2 months ago

jhawk0097, if you would like to witness more such events, do some searching on

I'm not sure why, but carelessness on youtube always has really bad results, unlike reality, where you can sometimes get away with it.

Erin Graham 4 years, 2 months ago

I'll second this!!!

All it takes is common sense (from EVERYONE) to "walk the walk"... it's not terribly difficult....

Gary McCullough 4 years, 2 months ago

That's just stereotypes. I've been in several accidents and near misses with "cagers" that just don't pay attention. I can see the accident coming, and bail out, and driver keeps on going. Cagers just don't pay attention.Bane cell phone use in all vehicles.

Ron Holzwarth 4 years, 2 months ago

DrJHawk, you're not supposed to make statements in here that make sense. And that is especially true in cases where you suggest that the state of Kansas follow the lead of California, where talking on a cell phone that is not hands free is illegal.

fatheadff 4 years, 2 months ago

Everyone can point fingers at whoever they want. But it boils down to two things. Car drivers need to watch for motorcycles and motorcycle riders need to watch out for cars. Follow every safety rule you can think of. Any accident either it be car or motorcycle is unfortunate and unwanted. And yes I am a rider myself. I just allow extra space and time when riding.

Erin Graham 4 years, 2 months ago

+1. We all know cars pose a danger to motorcycles. Who hasn't seen a vehicle narrowly miss a motorcycle because the driver of the vehicle isn't paying attention? I'm so sick of hearing about motorcycles being victimized, though. It's a two way street! There are good and bad drivers in both bunches.... Most people (in both bunches) just want to get from point A to point B safely, and are fine.

That said, if you're driving a motorcycle, PLEASE drive defensively (I know most of you do). I've seen WAY too many motorcycles and crotch rockets weave in and out of traffic, on shoulders and across the yellow line here in town and out in the county. If that's how you choose to drive, it's your own d*mn fault for killing yourself- I just hope you don't take anyone else down with you!!!!!

sblack 4 years, 2 months ago

This was a friend of mine who worked with me at Briggs - I can't believe he is gone but he is without pain and in good hands with someone Higher Up. RIP Josh - you will always be remembered

Cai 4 years, 2 months ago

It's really really easy to say here that the car drivers need to be more aware (and certainly you won't hear me arguing).

But it's not always the car's fault. I have no idea what caused this particular accident, but I've seen several instances of sport bike types weaving in and out of traffic, riding between lanes, and in general, intentionally inserting themselves into spaces where a car wouldn't fit. This takes away EVERYONE's ability to react to things without causing injury.

This particular case is unfortunate, and I'm always sorry to hear when someone has suffered such and accident. But I believe it to be irresponsible to always claim that the car drivers are at fault.

note: I'd be making the opposite argument if this article had taken the side of the car drivers, and said that the motorcyclist was entirely at fault. BOTH parties here need to show some initiative, safety, and responsibility.

Evan Ridenour 4 years, 2 months ago

I went on a 22 mile run today and I saw around 6-8 motorcyclists wearing full padding, yellow reflective vests, helmets, the whole works. That is about 6-8 more motorcyclists then I see taking safety that seriously on any given day.

The drivers play a major part of the dangers motorcyclists face (as a runner I face serious danger from those fools as well) but there are steps that motorcyclists can take to improve the safety of riding a motorcycle and if there is any positive from all of these recent deaths is maybe that more motorcyclists are now taking it more seriously and starting to take those steps.

Ron Holzwarth 4 years, 2 months ago

There's something about me that's just insane.

I won't ever fly in an airplane, not even a jet. That's because of some events that were beyond my control while a passenger in a small airplane, and I was subjected to incredible danger. Now I can't get on an airplane, no way. It's a phobia.

And I'm very nervous and very very careful when driving a car, all the time, every second. That's because I've been in a few accidents and I know how quickly things can go bad.

But, on a motorcycle, I have absolutely no fear at all. None!

So, I know better than to ever ride one, although I do have a motorcycle license.

Hoots 4 years, 2 months ago

You don't have a Class M license if you've never ridden one. I can guarantee that.

Ron Holzwarth 4 years, 2 months ago

I wore out two motorcycles and a couple motor scooters. I guarantee you, they did not get worn out by sitting in the garage.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 2 months ago

WE riders need to realize that larger vehicles have many blind spots. Yes I know some drivers simply don't give a damn...... they own the road.

Like or not we need to dress to be seen because of large vehicle built in blind spots and for drivers to simply do not care. Never ever believe drivers see anyone on a bike,skateboard,motor cycle or walking.

Dress to be scene.... Strobe lights on front and back might be something to consider.

Then again these large vehicles hit each other many times each day ... what does that say? I say leave those large vehicles at home and take up street ready golf carts to run around town. OR grab a bicycle,scooter ,motor cycle or use the T.

It might help if LPD were put on the alert to ticket reckless drivers more often. And drivers who are not paying attention such as those doing cell phones and texting. I'm all for abolishing cell phone use to accompany the texting ordinance. My best guess is the insurance industry would back such a move.

The more expensive gasoline becomes the more riders will be on the road.

"Lawrence police Capt. Dan Ward who has ridden a motorcycle since he was a teenager said motorcyclists no matter their level of experience should frequently work on honing their skills by taking safety courses.

Riding is dangerous because often what could be a normal fender-bender collision between vehicles can be more serious when it involves a motorcycle because the motorcyclist is less protected compared to the drivers of a car, van or truck.

“You have to drive defensively 100 percent of the time,” Ward said, “and be in control.”

Dress to be scene.... Strobe lights on front and back might be something to consider. On a backpack as a pedestrian.

CreatureComforts 4 years, 2 months ago

strobe lights? yeah that'll be really safe to other drivers on a dark night...

Ron Holzwarth 4 years, 2 months ago

It works really well for fireflies! That's how they find each other!

independent_rebel 4 years, 2 months ago

I wonder if a particular mower here in town uses strobe lights when he mows? I wonder how long before he blames Bush/Cheney for all the motorcycle accidents that have been occurring under Obama's watch?

friendlyjhawk 4 years, 2 months ago

A reporter can sign his/her name to an article and make a spelling mistake and all the anonymous writers will take the reporter to task. The reporter says "thank you kindly for correcting my patry human error." An anonymous writer can make the same mistake several times in one anonymous contribution and no one corrects him/her. The sentences should read "DRESS TO BE SEEN" not scene..

Flap Doodle 4 years, 2 months ago

Oops, should have scrolled down a bit farther and seen your repsonse.....

Flap Doodle 4 years, 2 months ago

Psst, merrill, "scene" and "seen" mean different things. LOLZ

Liberal_Theorist 4 years, 2 months ago

Screaming around the countryside without a helmet is not a recipe for safety. Let's not quibble over others driving while driving head naked.

John Hamm 4 years, 2 months ago

Do you not see the helmet on the ground near the cycle? Try again!

John Hamm 4 years, 2 months ago

Automobile drivers - don't look, don't think, don't care!

Stuart Sweeney 4 years, 2 months ago

Bikers, I was one, are part of the problem. I have had a couple of incidents where my habit of looking twice saved a biker. I looked and they were not there, looked the other way, and looked back and have had them go by at probably twice the speed limit. If I would have pulled out without the second look it would have been a case of a pickup pulling in front of a bike instead of a bike getting there twice as fast as they should have. Some have come over a hill or around a curve and could not have been seen.

Ron Holzwarth 4 years, 2 months ago

There is a hill about 60 miles east of LA, and I forgot the name of it. But, the road that goes up/down it is two lane with hardly any shoulder at all, and it's very narrow, very steep, and very windy. And if you go off the road, there are two possibilities: 1) Drive into a cliff, or 2) Drive off a cliff, like, way, way down there.

And it is amazing how fast some guys drive their motorcycles up and down it! They're at about a 45 degree angle going around the blind curves.

If you were in the mood to rub some of them out, all you would have to do is toss some sand on the road. Oil would work even better.

Ron Holzwarth 4 years, 2 months ago

P.S. What they call a hill in California, we call a huge mountain.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 2 months ago

The scene is in color which is to be seen.

Strobe lights for bikes etc etc etc are not blinding yet quite effective. We use them on our bicycles. If I owned a motorcycle getting them wired in seems would be best so that the lights begin as the ignition switch is turned on.

Bikes and motorcycles don't stand a chance against big vehicles.

Ron Holzwarth 4 years, 2 months ago

There's a legal problem there. Blinking or flashing lights on motorized vehicles are illegal. That's only allowed on bicycles.

Dixie Jones 4 years, 2 months ago

sorry Ron but they are not illegal , otherwise we would not have them on school buses.

Ron Holzwarth 4 years, 2 months ago

I'll admit that school buses might be an exception.

But I'm sure it's not legal on a private vehicle, unless it's a slow moving one.

jayhawks71 4 years, 2 months ago

Although there are people who are not looking where they are going, the problem is likely more insidious. It isn't about drivers "not caring" about motorcyclists. It is that they look but don't see, which is the phenomenon known as inattentional blindness at play. IB is somewhat poorly named for the average person who thinks that if the driver would "just pay attention" they would see the motorcyclist. It isn't really the case though. The following blog does a decent job discussing the issue.

There are numerous demonstrations in which images are shown to people "paying attention" to the image (Probably the most famous is the invisible gorilla demonstration.) and they miss something changing right before their eyes. They look but don't see. It is not to say that the problem of texting, talking on the phone, and taking the eyes off the road are not a problem. Instead, IB is just one more problem, and of the problems listed, it is the one most difficult to overcome.

Ron Holzwarth 4 years, 2 months ago

I read the article, and there are a couple things that are very important that are not mentioned at all in it. I have noted these myself many times.

And that is, when someone sees only one headlight approaching, it will very often appear to be two headlights that are very far away.

Some motorcycles have two headlights, but they are still quite close together. That helps some, but the illusion that the motorcycle is actually a car that is quite far away still exists. That motorcycle is a car that is just a bit closer than a regular motorcycle would be, is all that would visually mean.

The article does mention "cross-section area as seen by an observer", but it hardly touches upon the significance of it.

When an object has a small cross-sectional area, it will in every case appear to be much farther away. And its increase in size as it approaches is at best a marginal clue as to how close it is, or how fast it is traveling.

It's not as much of a problem with small cars as it used to be, because drivers are now used to the fact that come cars are smaller. I'm old enough to remember the days when small cars were not common, and the drivers of them would always curse out the drivers of larger cars that always seemed to be always pulling out right in front of them. Actually, I didn't come up with that original idea. I read it a long time ago.

This is simply a fact of life:

You are small when you ride a motorcycle, and therefore you are always very far away. So of course the car driver is going to pull out in front of you because of that.

Keep that in mind when you ride a motorcycle.

richh 4 years, 2 months ago

Hmm I still drive on my own motorcycle for almost four years now. Yeah, I notice many peoples were driving and not watch out for any motorcycles on the road. Other hands, some motorcycle drivers were not following up on the motorcycle rule on the road.

At this point, I took the motorcycle class for 20-25 hours as a teacher warned me as do and don't then I passed the course and I feel more safety on the road for four years. So many peoples just go straight to the DMV and passed the test, then drive the parking lot for less than five minutes and pass it, then got a new driver license. I think that is big mistake! A lot of motorcycle drivers might be go wrong, then they got an accident, because they didn't earn 20-25 hours on the course as not know much deep about the motorcycle rule!

harleywife 4 years, 2 months ago

My husband was recently hit on his motorcycle STOPPED at a stop sign by a young driver that was not paying any attention and had a phone in his hand, hit him from behind. Not sure if he was dialing someone or TEXTING!!!!! I understand, accidents happen but pay attention to your surroundings. Yes, motorcycle drivers are somewhat harder to see than a vehicle but paying attention, slowing down and staying off the phone does help!!!! Luckily he was not hurt and the bike can be fixed. There are more and more motorcycles on the road do to high fuel prices.

Reading some of the post are very upsetting. Don't slame all motorcycle drivers for not paying attention, because that is so untrue or slame all motor vehicle drivers for not paying attention because that is not true either. There are good and bad in everyone that operations a moving motorcycle/vehicle. The best solution is pay attention and watch your surroundings!!

Lastly, look how many motorcycle riders do something very special for any event.... SEVERAL, no HUNDREDS.... They are there when needed for a fallen soldier, ride for the Red Cross, go on poker rides for the injured, in loving memory of a deceased individual(s), for cancer and most important........CHILDREN!!!! So what is not to love about a motorcycle rider????? That is what I thought, think about it.

So make sure you know what we do before you slame us, because it could be you that we ride for.

jewelrynutKU 4 years, 2 months ago

I have had a motorized scooter for about a month now, and in that short time I have almost been hit three times. Once, even after honking, the girl didn't even look up from her phone. I constantly am sped around, even when going merely 5 miles under the speed LIMIT. The other day my boyfriend was riding the scooter and when he came home he said that two guys in a pickup truck tailgated him for about 5 minutes then proceeded to honk at him, when they both stopped at a stop light and the driver pulled up next to him he asked "There a reason you honked?" the driver simply said "Oh sorry dude, I thought it was funny". A motorcycle/scooter is also a vehicle, and its sad that I have to look an extra three times before turning when the light in green for me to make sure no oblivious drivers hit me. There are a lot of reckless motorcyclists as well, and both are in the blame. People need to realize that a car has the nickname "two ton death machine" for a reason, and no matter how late, how angry, how whatever you are.... there are PEOPLE on the rode, not just cars and motorcyclists.

Hoots 4 years, 2 months ago

The idiots in this town don't see those giant 40 foot KU buses coming at them let alone anything else. If you don't see a big blue house on wheels coming then you really shouldn't have a license. It's like they're painted in camo. Every once in awhile I'll see a student walk right into the side of one at a stop while texting. The frightening thing is these people text and drive a 4000 pound vehicle while involved in the same activity they can't handle while walking.

hipper_than_hip 4 years, 2 months ago

George: do you have any contact info for the Lawrence Sport Bike Association?

Bob Burton 4 years, 2 months ago

Hoots said this "You don't have a Class M license if you've never ridden one. I can guarantee that." This is a false statement.. You could get a Class M license just by asking for it.. Think "Grandfathered in".. Thats me!!

Ron Holzwarth 4 years, 2 months ago

The game changer happened late in or very shortly after 1978. After that, it wasn't so easy to get a Class M license. Same thing with a Commercial Driver's License.

I was so ticked off that my Dad was to busy to show me out to drive our rig before the deadline. Before the game changer, all you had to do was show up with a rig and drive someone around the block a few times to get a CDL.

But now, to drive a big rig you have to actually know how to drive one well.

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