Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

When bikers seem not to care October 1, 2015

Bikers on I-35 near downtown Minneapolis


AFTER WITNESSING ABOUT A HALF DOZEN motorcycles weaving in and out of traffic on Interstate 35W near downtown Minneapolis on a recent Saturday afternoon, I feel compelled to write.

I honestly feared that, instead of photographing these irresponsible drivers, I would be dialing 911 and photographing one or more of them splayed across the highway in a tangle of twisted metal and bodies.


Bikers on I-35 rounding curve near downtown Minneapolis


“No wonder motorcycle drivers get killed,” I commented to my husband as the bikes zoomed in front of our van, raced around curves and squeezed between vehicles. The bikers were driving in a manner that was, without question, endangering not only themselves but others on the Interstate.

Operator safety tips listed on the Minnesota Motorcycle Safety Center advise bikers to “avoid extreme speeds and dramatic lean angles,” among other precautions. At least these cyclists were wearing helmets. Not that that necessarily guarantees avoidance of serious injury or survival in a crash. But it helps.

I’m not anti-motorcycle. My husband owned a Harley—until a teen driver pulled out in front of him at a stop sign, landing Randy in an ambulance and totaling his bike. The crash happened on a city street less than a block from work. Randy suffered bumps and bruises, but no broken bones or serious injuries.

So I understand that it’s not just how a biker drives his/her bike that can cause a crash. It’s also inattentive motorists and other factors, such as an animal on the roadway, road conditions, etc., that lead to crashes.

This year in Minnesota, the number of motorcycle fatalities—51 as of September 29—has already exceeded the total for the previous year.

I just want everyone to be safe, to drive—whether you’re a biker or a motorist—with care and regard for your life and the lives of others on roadways. We all have people who love us. Please. Remember that.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling