Motorcycle advocates share safety tips during Motorcycle Awareness Month

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 31, 2018

SALISBURY — In the warmer months, a danger lurks for motorcyclists on the roadways that’s just as treacherous as a sheet of ice during a winter storm, says Catherine Terwilliger, secretary of the Charlotte Chapter of Concerned Bikers Association.

And it’s something most people aren’t aware of.

“When people blow their grass clippings in the road … it’s like driving on ice,” Terwilliger said.

She said what may seem a simple way to discard grass cuttings by a homeowner or landscaper is actually a violation of many city ordinances and poses risks for motorcyclists. It’s one of the main points that Terwilliger and other members of the Concerned Bikers Association try to teach others they meet.

In Salisbury, it is a violation of a city ordinance to dump, throw or discard grass cuttings, leaves, yard rakings, limbs, trash or rubbish into the streets or on sidewalks.

The Charlotte Chapter of the Concerned Bikers Association covers not only Cabarrus, but Iredell, Union and Rowan counties. Its members meet with legislators about state laws pertaining to motorcyclists.

“We try to promote awareness,” Terwilliger said.

May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, and the group uses this time to help spread awareness.

A common misconception is that because motorcycles can move fast, they can stop faster than a car.

“It’s really the ability to grip the road” that enables stops, she said. “People shouldn’t assume because they can go faster they can stop faster,” she said.

Most motorcyclists drive defensively to get out of another driver’s blind spot, she said.

Many may not know that motorcyclists, like drivers of any vehicle, have the right to ride in the entire lane. Some motorcycle riders often share the lane with other motorcyclists.

According to the latest available statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2016, 5,286 motorcyclists were killed. That’s 5.1 percent higher than in the year prior.

Terwilliger is also a certified instructor for the Motorcycle Safety and Awareness Program, which teaches motorcycle safety to high school students enrolled in driver’s education. The program teaches new drivers how to “share the road” with motorcyclists.

Terwilliger said the most repeated phrase after a collision with a motorcycle is that the driver of the passenger vehicle says he didn’t see the motorcycle.

She teaches visibility, being aware and “inattentive blindness.”

One of the ways instructors teach inattentive blindness by showing a video of a basketball being dribbled among a group of people. The viewer is asked to follow the ball, an most don’t see a person dressed as a bear in the video.

Young drivers mostly think they will hear a motorcycle coming before the bike is upon them, but Terwilliger said she tries to get them to understand how sound travels.

The group also hosts bike shows throughout the year to fund programs and pay for educational conferences organized by the Motorcycle Riders Foundation and the National Coalition of Motorcyclists. Those who attend the conferences are then able to educate high school drivers.

A bike show is scheduled in Rowan County later this year.

Chapter President Mike Wiggins said earlier this month he had the opportunity to speak with legislators about motorcycle safety.

One bill being discussed in the House is the Equal Access Bill, which requires that any building paid for with public funds must accommodate motorcycles.

Another issue whether the state will drop the requirement for helmets for auto cycle drivers since they are an enclosed, seated vehicle with a steering wheel.

For more information about biker safety and other details about the Charlotte Chapter of the Concerned Bikers Association, visit

Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.