TAVARES – If there’s a reason people love to visit Lake County, Cheryl Sutherland said, it could be because of the natural beauty that the county’s roadways take drivers through. And that’s particularly true, she said, of motorcyclists.
“There are a lot of motorcyclists here because of our scenic highways,” she said. “We have a lot of them here in Lake County.”
That’s particularly true with the 16th annual Leesburg Bikefest – a three day motorcycle rally and music event – coming up on April 27-29, when Lake County’s highways are likely to be more crowded with motorcyclists than those in compact vehicles.
Earlier than that, though, is another event, smaller in scale, but also aimed at the rising number of people taking advantage of Florida’s mild weather to enjoy a motorcycle ride in the great outdoors. The fact that this is also an event that helps promote public safety as well doesn’t hurt, said Sutherland, the route coordinating secretary for the Lake County Community Traffic Safety Team.
“A lot of the motorcyclists are of an elderly nature, and back when they started riding, they didn‘t have the training available that we do now, and we want to make them aware of that and make it safer for all of them,” she said.
The Lake County Community Traffic Safety Team – a multi-jurisdictional agency comprised of individuals who come from law enforcement, emergency services, and traffic safety education programs — is hosting the Fifth Annual Lake County Motorcycle Safety Fair on Saturday, Feb. 18 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Wooton Park, located at 100 E. Ruby St. in Tavares.
The theme for this year’s event is “Improving Visibility on Our Roadways.” The fair is free to the public and will feature safety-related information on motorcycle education, safety exhibits, and Florida’s Blood Centers’ Big Red Bus. There will also be free giveaways, food, motorcycle apparel for sale, motorcycle art, visits by local motorcycle clubs, and live broadcasting by DJ Tim Reed with Biker Valley Radio.
“We are encouraging residents to stop by and learn about safe driving practices and sharing the road with motorcycles,” said Sgt. Thomas McKane, chairman of the Lake County CTST. “We encourage you to bring your entire family. This is an event everyone can enjoy and benefit from.”
“This is the fifth year that we’ve had the motorcycle fair,” Sutherland said. “We’re just trying to bring awareness to all motorists within the county, and this is the second year that we’ve done it in February because we’re trying to kick start festivities and really look out for motorcyclists on the road.”
With big events like the Leesberg Bikefest and Daytona Bikefest coming up in the spring, Sutherland said holding an educational event for motorcyclists is a good way to teach them safety procedures before they crowd the highways for those upcoming festivals.
“We’re trying to get ahead of the game,” she said. “We’re promoting, of course, helmet usage, wearing proper clothing attire, and being visible on the road. It’s just to bring the community together, and teach them, more or less, about sharing the roadway. And it’s not just for motorcyclists.”
For example, she noted that this event traditionally attracts seniors who ride scooters as well as motorcycles – and, in some subdivisions, the most convenient way for residents to get around is by golf cart.
“We’re hoping to reach out to those with golf carts, even,” she said.
While there will be food, arts and music to enjoy at the event, Sutherland said, there will also be plenty of vendors handing out educational materials about safety on the roadways.
“It’s just basically everyone watching out for everybody, and trying to keep fatalities down,” she said, adding that Florida’s mild winters, free of the sweltering summer heat or the northern cold or snow, brings a lot of visitors here, including so many motorcyclists.
“Leesburg has grown so much with their Bikefests,” she said. “And it’s that time of year. The weather is getting better. We’ll have AAA as one of our vendors, and Thomas Insurance out of Fruitland Park will be there to answer any questions. We’ve got food preparers, and then we’ve got some local motorcycle clubs doing a ride-in, and we’ve got Florida’s Blood Centers, which will be encouraging people to donate blood. It’s all about traffic safety.”
The Lake County CTST employs a multi-jurisdictional approach to solving roadway safety problems in Lake County, and this event is one way of doing that, Sutherland added. She said in the past four years, attendance has gotten bigger and bigger.
“It seems like each year it keeps growing,” she said. “The first year we had it off the Agriculture Center in Tavares, and there might have been 50 people. Now it’s grown to over 100, and we’re hoping that it will continue to grow. We’ve been surprised at how many were not aware of the safety information that we have available.”
To learn more, contact Sutherland at 352-483-9048, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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