February 29, 2024


Automotive to Us

Motorcycle crashes on the rise, BPD urges drivers to be safe

The Bismarck Police Department says motorcycle crashes are up from previous years and drivers need to be more aware.

“It’s a very scary feeling when that call comes out with a car-motorcycle crash.
Injury crash,” said Sergeant Tim Bleth, Bismarck Police Department

Around this time last year, the BPD only responded to one or two motorcycle crashes. We sat down with Sergeant Tim Bleth. He says because of the warmer weather we’ve had, those numbers are up. They’ve already seen six crashes this year.

“You’re always expecting the worst because of the lack of protection that a motorcycle rider has. You’re always going there and always thinking do they have a helmet on? God I hope they were wearing a helmet,” said Bleth.

Abate of North Dakota offers training courses for those who want to be safe while riding.
They say there’s only one way to fully understand what it’s like, riding through traffic.

To keep the roadways safe, Lonnie Bertsch, Executive Director of Abate spends a lot of time training riders.

“Car drivers aren’t really looking for us yet. It’s early in the season, and the motorcyclists are traveling usually on vehicles that are smaller than what car drivers are used to seeing,” said Bertsch.

“Slow down for all corners. Look both directions before you pull out into an intersection. Use both brakes. Obey the traffic laws,” said Bertsch.

What about drivers? What should they be doing?

“I think people forget that they’re driving a 4,500 to 5,000 pound weapon. You have to really pay attention, take a double look at them. You have to be cognitive that they’re out there. If you’re not, that’s where the crashes usually happen,” said Bleth.

Both Bertsch and Bleth have quite a bit experience riding motorcycles. So, we asked them what is it, that gets them on a bike.

“It’s that freedom,” said Bleth.

“It’s the sense of freedom. It’s the sense of going down the highway and just feeling the wind on your face. Just to get out and away. It’s a relaxing trip. I live 5 miles from here, and sometimes it takes me an hour and a half because I take the long way home,” said Bertsch.

Bertsch encourages even the most experienced riders to come out and take some of ABATE’s safety courses. The BPD says they haven’t had a motorcycle fatality since 2018, and would like to keep it that way.