Local motorcyclists ask drivers to be more alert as they travel to Sturgis this weekend

(ABC 6 News) – The largest motorcycle rally in the world is about to start in South Dakota.

Sturgis Motorcycle Rally draws anywhere from 450,000 to 550,000 people a year and Interstate 90 is just one of many routes thousands of bikers take to get there. But the Minnesota State Patrol is reporting that motorcycle related crashes are up 13 percent from last year.

With an influx of bikers on the roads in the coming days, the State Patrol and fellow riders want everyone to be paying more attention for motorcycles on all roads.

Roger Phillips, has been riding motorcycles since he was 13-years-old and he’s heading to Sturgis for the 36th time. He’s always doing his part to be safe when he’s on the road.

“We got all our lights on so people can see us but if everybody was more alert, it would be a safer place to drive,” said Phillips.

While other cars can cause problems a large portion of motorcycle related crashes are now happening due to animals or speeding.

“Reasons are distracted drivers, and speed,” said Shorty Lee, president of the Twisted Saints Motorcycle Club based in Rochester. “Single motorcycle accidents are very high, actually 82 deaths in the year 2022 which is the highest since 1985.”

Lee referenced data reported by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. He says it is the responsibility of both the rider and other drivers to be alert and aware of what’s happening around them. Especially when other motorcycles will be on the road.

It’s an eight hour trip. Give your rider enough room if he approaches, give enough room to stop if there’s any road hazards. Pay attention to the signals, see if they’re switching lanes. Pay attention to the rider, see how they’re doing if the bikes are acting funny, give them plenty of room as they pass you,” said Lee.

Lee will not be attending Sturgis this year but he has been many times before, saying a lot of the fun that comes out of the trip is in the journey.

“It’s a brotherhood. It’s the trip there and the trip home that makes it worthwhile,” said Lee.

Phillips being a lifetime biker agrees, saying it never gets old for him.

“Ah, the scenery, you know I’ve been to Sturgis probably 35 times. It’s just fun going out there, riding around the Black Hills. It’s just beautiful. I just love traveling, that’s my life. I snowbird down to Arizona so I ride my bike, that’s my living,” Phillips said.

This year marks the 83rd annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and it will run from Friday, August 4, to Sunday August 13.