A minister wants to keep motorcyclists safer with this specific request

Ohio crashes involving motorcycles killed 146 in 2018. Highway experts and motorcycle advocacy groups say grass clippings and gravel that find their way onto roadways pose dangers to riders by reducing friction between the bikes’ tires and streets. FILE PHOTO

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Ohio crashes involving motorcycles killed 146 in 2018. Highway experts and motorcycle advocacy groups say grass clippings and gravel that find their way onto roadways pose dangers to riders by reducing friction between the bikes’ tires and streets. FILE PHOTO

A Hamilton minister recently asked that the city and its residents take steps to avoid sending grass clippings into roadways, saying those clippings can cause motorcyclists to crash because the clippings reduce their tires’ grip on streets.

“One risk to motorcycles a lot of people aren’t aware of is grass blown on the street,” said Dan Compston, with Bloodline of the King Motorcycle Ministries at 2409 Dixie Highway.

Butler County had 113 motorcycle crashes last year, while Warren County had 49.

Compston, who noted May is National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, said when the city mows grass in the median along Ohio 4 near his church, “the grass is blown out into the street almost midway across.”

Compston asked that crews mow so the clippings are directed back onto the medians themselves, rather than into the streets.

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“Some cities, it’s illegal to blow grass onto streets, and I don’t know if you can pass an ordinance for the people of the city of Hamilton, when they blow their grass on the street, to blow it back to the curb,” he said. “There have been a lot of motorcycle accidents lately.”

“Grass and grass clippings are about 85 percent water, and it doesn’t matter if these clippings are wet or dry, when they’re in the street, experts say they can be a danger to motorcyclists,” he said, comparing the lack of friction to hitting an ice slick in cold weather.

Not only grass clippings, but also gravel that washes from driveways during heavy storms can be dangerous to motorcyclists, said Sgt. Wade Lewis, motor commander of the Ohio State Highway Patrol’s Cincinnati Metro Post in Blue Ash.

“The issue with it is it’s so sporadic, the areas in which these clippings end up out in the roadways,” Lewis said. “It’s not an issue unless you’re trying to brake on it, or you’re trying to turn.”

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“If you do get into a situation where somebody’s trying to slow down to turn into their driveway and you’re on that stuff, your friction has changed from the roadway surface, and when you go to brake, things like skidding and getting into the anti-lock-braking systems on these newer bikes are going to play a factor,” Lewis said.

Lewis hasn’t personally had problems with grass, but he has with gravel, he said.


Motorcycle Safety Tips

Last year, there were 3,317 motorcycle-related crashes in Ohio, a 13 percent drop from 2017. Some 142 of them were fatal. Some safety tips from the Ohio State Highway Patrol:

  • Always give motorcyclists a full lane of travel.
  • Look for motorcyclists on the highway, at intersections and any time you are changing lanes.
  • When driving behind a motorcycle, or any vehicle, allow plenty of space between your vehicles.
  • Of the motorcyclists involved in 2018 Ohio crashes, only 41 percent were wearing helmets. Of those killed in such crashes, 33 percent were.
  • Also last year, 9 percent of motorcycle-involved crashes involved alcohol or drugs, twice the rate for overall crashes.
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