JEFFERSON, Wis. - After a motorcyclist’s death over the state line in Illinois earlier this week, riders in the Madison area are sharing a plea that could save lives.
For Stan Rygh, riding his motorcycle has a way of clearing his head.
"I call it wind therapy,” Rygh said. "It's like breathing another form of life into you."
Certain obstacles, like potholes, poor road conditions and tar snakes, bring back the clutter. Rygh said there’s another offender many people may not realize.
"When you hit that grass, it's just like ice,” he said. “It's slick. You can't control your motorcycle, you can't stop on it and if you're an inexperienced rider, chances are you'll drop."
As District 1 director of ABATE of Wisconsin, a motorcycle rights and safety organization, Rygh said grass clippings have been a problem in and around his city of Jefferson for a while, especially in rural areas.
"I wish I had a leaf-blower so I could jump off and blow it off,” he said.
The issue extends beyond the area and has now been brought to the forefront after the motorcyclist's death in Illinois.
"Debris is extremely, especially when on two wheels, extremely dangerous for motorcycles,” Wisconsin State Patrol Sgt. Michael Vasquez said.
Vasquez said a few Wisconsin laws apply to grass clippings left in the road. The state has laws governing the placing of any substance in the roadway that could cause injury, and littering and secure-your-load laws could cover plant debris coming off vehicles.
He advises those mowing their lawns to start from the outside and do loops inward.
"Most of the grass clippings will be in the center, and you can just pick them up,” Vasquez said.
Rygh has some advice for motorcyclists when grass interferes.
"Maintain like you would on a slippery, wet road,” Rygh said. “Keep a firm grip, keep a straight line, don't swerve, don't brake, just zoom on through."
To curb that before it happens, Rygh asks that mowers clear the way to free one worry from motorcyclists’ minds.
"It's just awareness,” he said. "If you stop and think that one or five minutes it'll take you extra might save somebody's life."
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