The Augusta City Council is considering a safety proposal aimed at reducing the odds of another tragedy like one during the 2017 United Bikers of Maine Toy Run.
AUGUSTA, MAINE — The Augusta City Council is considering a safety proposal aimed at reducing the odds of another tragedy like one during the 2017 United Bikers of Maine Toy Run.
Councilors on Thursday will discuss a requirement for a safety plan from organizers of parades or other events. The Augusta Police Department proposal would adopt “best practices” outlined in the National Transportation Safety Board report on the pileup that killed two riders.
The NTSB said a motorcycle rider’s unsafe maneuver triggered the chain-reaction crash on Interstate 95 in Augusta. But it also said organizers (United Bikers of Maine) failed to mitigate the risks of 3,000 motorcycles entering I-95 without “supplemental traffic control or state police oversight.” And It also faulted the Augusta police department.
Augusta Police Chief Jared Mills said the proposed ordinance would codify the practices city police are already following.
The United Bikers of Maine subsequently announced it would cancel the parade portion of its annual Toy Run, following the release of the report.
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“In light of the unfortunate accident, and the report released by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB),” the statement reads, “we are eliminating the annual parade of bikes from the Augusta Civic Center to the Windsor Fairgrounds. All toy run activities will be held at the Augusta Civic Center in September 2019.”
The 2017 ride drew about 3,000 motorcyclists for the run, which started at the Augusta Civic Center. The route took riders north entering I-95 at Exit 112, traveling north less than a mile to Exit 113, across Route 3 and then to Route 132, ending at the Windsor Fairgrounds.
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The crash involved several motorcyclists who were traveling at a slow speed in the travel lane and a pickup truck traveling at highway speed in the passing lane. The NTSB reports states that one of the motorcyclists, Aaron White-Sevigny, 25, of Windsor, veered into the travel lane in front of a truck driven by Willam Nusom, who lost control of the truck. White-Sevigny and Jamie Gross, 58, of Belmont, were killed.
The cancelling of the parade portion of the bike run follows a decision by the executive committee of the United Bikers of Maine.
“This was a very hard decision for the UBM board to make,” the statement reads. “Given the past positive history of the toy run, and the safety record for this event prior to this incident, we have been very fortunate. The growing number of participants, the increased distracted drivers on the road as well as the inexperience on the part of some riders as to the proper way to ride with a large group, has played a big part in this decision.”
“This hit us so hard,” Sandy Lyle, public relations officer for the United Bikers of Maine, said Thursday. “The ironic thing is that we are there as a guide to safety and to promote safety and motorcycle riding.”
No Toy Run activities will take place at the Windsor Fairgrounds, and no organized ride is scheduled. In its release, the organization urges riders who ride to the event individually or in a group to ride safely and observe traffic laws.
The 2017 event was the 36th annual Toy Run. Over the years it had grown in popularity so much that the route, which had taken the run through Augusta, was redirected onto the highway.
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In 2018, United Bikers of Maine worked with the Augusta Police Department to map a different route that would keep riders off the interstate, and to have ongoing safety discussions.
Augusta police Chief Jared Mills issued a statement that read: “The City of Augusta has reviewed the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) report regarding this tragic crash that occurred on September 10th, 2017. While the NTSB does not assign fault by their own disclaimer the City of Augusta has the utmost respect for NTSB and their mission of improving safety when it comes to all forms of transportation in the United States and their best practices will be applied to the City of Augusta’s operating procedures moving forward.”
Mills subsequently said his department will work on revising its procedures for handling events such as the Toy Run.
The NTSB report recommends that the city of Augusta “include in your city ordinances a requirement that all organizations seeking city approval to conduct a parade or special event involving roadway use create a safety plan that includes, at a minimum, the following elements: safe route selection, acquisition of all required permits, and hazard mitigation.”
It further recommends that the United Bikers of Maine “include in your group motorcycle riding event procedures a requirement to create a safety plan that includes, at a minimum, the following elements: safe route selection, acquisition of all required permits, and hazard mitigation.”
It will be interesting to see how this kind of a policy will spread to municipalities across the United States, as local governments will seek to stay away from events that can lead to litigious actions against their economies as a result of well-meaning toy runs gone wrong because of motorcycle accidents caused by inexperienced riders. Maybe your club’s toy run will be reduced from a very cool ride to a gathering at a spot, minus the parade at all.
Source: Central Maine