Motorcycle safety pitched at PNC Park

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In 2012 in Pennsylvania, there were more than 4,000 motorcycle crashes, resulting in 210 fatalities. Included in those numbers were the 354 motorcycle crashes and nine fatalities that occurred in Allegheny County.

Those numbers prompted local public safety officials and motorcycle enthusiasts to form the Greater Pittsburgh Motorcycle Safety Council, which Sunday held a safety awareness event outside PNC Park to highlight the problem.

More than two dozen Harley-Davidson cycles lined Federal Street outside of the baseball stadium as cyclists and safety experts manned booths providing statistics and safety tips to passers-by.

PennDOT spokesman Steve Cowan said the event was especially relevant for Allegheny County since it has the highest number of registered motorcycles -- 27,000 -- among counties in Pennsylvania.

In Allegheny County the number of accidents between 2011 and 2012 grew by 85. The 2012 total of 354 was the highest in six years, according to PennDOT statistics.

In addition to the nine fatalities in 2012, there were 55 major injuries that resulted from motorcycle crashes. Officials say 35 crashes were alcohol-related and 67 were speed-related.

Mr. Cowan noted Sunday's event came on the heels of three recent motorcycle fatalities. One occurred about 1:45 a.m. Sunday on Route 28 near the 40th Street Bridge, when Christopher Streiff, 46, of Sewickley was killed after what police reported as a crash with a tractor-trailer. Another occurred Friday when an SUV hit from behind the motorcycle being driven by Charles Bancroft, 42, of Latrobe.

The third recent motorcycle fatality happened May 7, when Daniel Gallatin, 68, of Harlansburg, Lawrence County, was killed in Volant when police said a motorist crashed into him while she was texting.

Vince Capane, director of the Pittsburgh Harley Owner's Group, said his group preaches safety to both motorcyclists and motorists.

"Be aware of everything you are doing and be aware of your surroundings," Mr. Capane offered as advice to drivers.

To motorcyclists, he said: "Try to be seen."

"We always hear after an accident that the driver of the other vehicle didn't see the motorcycle," Mr. Capane said.

Both Mr. Capane and Mr. Cowan reminded motorcyclists that they must have a license to drive their motorcycle and have it registered with the state.

They also encouraged motorcyclists to take the free safety courses that are offered by the Pennsylvania Motorcycle Safety Program. Information on the programs can be found at www.LiveFreeRideAlive.com.

neigh_city - Transportation

Mary Niederberger: mniederberger@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1590.


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