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Photos: Officials support Motorcycle Safety Month

By Howard B. Owens


May is Motorcycle Awareness Month and Genesee County ABATE held a safety awareness ride through Genesee County today starting at Stan's Harley Davidson.

County Legislator Gary Maha presented ABATE President Tim Johnson and VP Frank Gallo (left) with a resolution passed by the Legislature officially declaring May as Motorcycle Awareness Month in Genesee County. The resolution calls on residents to be alert for motorcycle riders on roadways and to drive safely.

Assemblyman Steve Hawley also spoke briefly about the legislation in Albany that affects motorcycle safety and his support for motorcycle safety.


Motorcycle safety instructor says it's time for riders to brush up their own skills

By Howard B. Owens


It's spring. It's traditional each spring to remind car drivers in WNY that motorcyclists are going to be out on the road again.

Look for them.

But a big part of Jon DelVecchio's message to motorcycle riders is you're the one most responsible for your own safety.

Yes, drivers of four-wheeled boxes need watch the roadways better, but there are things that alert and trained motorcycle riders can do to avoid crashes, even when confronted with the most inattentive drivers.

"Riding a motorcycle takes years of practice and effort to master," said DelVecchio, who will be teaching a motorcycle safety course at Stan's Harley Davidson at 1 p.m., Saturday, April 26. "You have to do something to improve your skills every year. A lot of people say, 'I'm going to go out, hope for the best. Those damn car drivers. It's always their fault.' "

DelVecchio, a Churchville resident, is a certified Motorcycle Safety Instructor who teaches the basic licensing course at Learn to Ride in Rochester. He's also started his own motorcycle safety business, Street Skills. He writes articles, produces videos and podcasts and sells a deck of flash cards riders can use to brush up on their skills each spring.

Too often, he said, riders take the basic riding course, pass the test, get their license and they think they're ready to ride. They never take another course, read a book or even watch a training video.

He doesn't take credit for the saying, but somebody once said that the typical motorcycle rider who has been riding for 10 years really only has one year of experience. They just keep repeating the first year over and over and over.

"Your skills are never fully mastered and in the spring you're off your game, so do something different this season," DelVecchio said. "Take a class. Read a book. Do something to improve skills, not just this year, but every year."

DelVecchio started riding in 2001. He had a wife and two toddlers, plus he taught driver's ed at Rush Henrietta High School, so he already took safety seriously (he's also a business teacher at RHHS). By 2007, he was offered a chance to teach at Learn to Ride and found that teaching motorcycle safety combined his two biggest passion -- teaching and riding.

During this time, he also formed a group through of riders who shared a love of bikes, but also took their skills seriously. They ride together regularly and take trips together throughout the Northeast.

He's found riders have varied attitudes toward bike safety. There are the riders who get big bikes, like to ride without helmets or only with small helmets, and combine riding with maybe a few beers along the way, then there's the younger riders who get fast bikes, ride them fast and take risks.

DelVecchio was careful to not criticize either kind of rider. "To each his own," he indicated, but he would clearly like to see all riders take to improving their motorcycle skills more seriously.

The most common kind of motorcycle accident is the car turning left in front of an oncoming motorbike.

Drivers are reminded constantly this time of year to look twice, take extra care, but even that isn't enough, DelVecchio said.

Riders need to be aware that even careful drivers are going to have a hard time seeing you and if they do, it is difficult for drivers to gauge a motorcycle's speed and distance.

A video on YouTube demonstrates how a motorcycle coming down the road looks small in the distance and continues to look small to the driver until suddenly it looks very big. A bike and rider also have a greater likelihood than a car of blending into the background.

Motorcyclists need to be acutely aware of these visual impairments for drivers and either weave in their lane of traffic when approaching an intersection with a car present (making themselves more visible) or take other defensive driving action.

The second most common type of motorcycle accident involve riders coming into curves. They might be going too fast (relative to skills and experience) or they might not be familiar with the curve, or they might hit a substance on the roadway. The less experienced or knowledgeable a rider, the less aware they are of how to handle turns.

Turning a bike involves something called a countersteering. With a four-wheel or three-wheel vehicle, if a driver wants to go right, he or she turns right. Go left, turn left. But on a two-wheel vehicle, a rider who wants to go right needs to turn the front wheel to the left slightly and then lean into the turn.

Most of the time, riders do this instinctively, but when confronted with a new circumstance, the rider might pull the wheel in the wrong direction causing the rider to be ejected.

That's one reason extra training, knowledge and experience are so important for riders, DelVecchio said.

While acknowledging that helmets are controversial in the motorcycle community, DelVecchio believes riders should wear them, even full-face helmets, which offer the most protection.

He said he often tells his students that if they could talk to a person who was killed or suffered a serious head injury in a motorcycle accident, how do you think that rider would answer a question about going back in time and wearing a helmet.

"If you could rewind the clock and crash again but with the helmet, how many people out of 100 do you think would actually say, 'no I want to crash again without the helmet.' Right? None," DelVecchio said.

The point is he said, "is how do you know when you're going to crash?"

That said, he isn't in favor of forcing anybody to wear a helmet.

"I'm conservative. I'm tired of the government trying to tell me how to do things, but in that conservative view, I think if a crusty old rider, who has 10, 20 years experience, wants to go riding without a lid and he knows the risk, to me, OK, knock yourself out," DelVecchio said. "But there are so many new riders out there (riding without a helmet)."

As for beer and biking, DelVecchio doesn't do it himself.

"I love a beer, but when I ride, I never even have one," DelVecchio said. "It could be that little edge I give up."

DelVecchio's last bit of advise for riders: Be nice. Riders who are rude just make car drivers care less about the safety of other riders.

"If somebody's a real jerk, they've got a real loud bike and they're doing a wheelie next to a car, that person is not going to necessarily be punished for that wheelie or loud bike," DelVecchio said. "It's the next person on a bike who comes to the intersection where the other driver thinks, 'they don't care about their safety and I'm going to worry about him.' They're not going to purposefully gun for him, but they're going to think he dosen't care about his safety and he's obnoxious and discount him a little more."

DelVecchio also sells flash cards for beginning car drivers on his Web site. The seminar at Stan's, located at 4425 W. Saile Drive in the Town of Batavia, is free and open to all riders.

Photo: DelVecchio on the front bike. Behind him are his friends, from left, Lennie Rugg, Paul Hendel, Matt Ostrowski and Gene Rinas. The riders meet regularly at the Leaf & Bean in Chili Center, which is owned by Bergen resident (and a motorcycle enthusiast himself) Bill Scharvogel.

Photo: A reminder about motorcycle safety on local roadways

By Howard B. Owens

Meet Trooper Mike Niezgoda, who is part of the State Police motorcycle detail out of Clarence.

Trooper Niezgoda was nice enough to meet me one day out in Pembroke for a photo and an interview to coincide with Motorcycle Safety Month. It was a great interview. Unfortunately, my recorder failed me and the interview was lost.

We've tried to arrange a follow-up phone interview, but it hasn't quite come together.

But it's still an important public service message: Be careful out there.

Car drivers, be aware that you share the road with two-wheeled friends. 

One thing Niezgoda emphasized is "look twice." Most car-motorcycle accidents occur at intersections because drivers simply don't see the approaching motorcycle so they pull out into traffic, especially when making turns.

Drivers need to be careful about following too closely behind motorcycles. Hitting a bike from the rear can be fatal for the rider, even if the speeds would have resulted in just a fender-bender for cars.

For motorcycle riders -- get as much safety training as you can, wear DOT approved helmets, and be alert for drivers pulling into your path.

A couple of notes about Niezgoda and his bike. Trooper Niezgoda is also a Marine. He served a tour in Iraq and two tours in Afghanistan. He is passionate about motorcycles and rides a Harley in his off-time as well. The Harley he is riding was part of the factory output on Sept. 11, 2001. Harley-Davidson donated that run of bikes to NYPD and State Police.

Motorcycle Rally hopes to 'Round-Up' bikers this summer

By Brittany Baker

A few motorcycle enthusiasts have found a way to bring thousands of riders to Genesee County this summer with a Round-up Rally on Aug. 12, 13 and 14 in the Clarion Hotel's south parking lot

Dave Kasinski proudly wore a shirt that reads, “It’s In Our Blood” with a silhouette of him, his brother and his son standing next to their bikes beneath the words.

Kasinski used to ride motorcycles during his college days but the hobby faded when it came time to raise his family. A few years ago, he took hold of the handlebars again and hasn’t looked back.

“When my son Sam went off to college, he ended up getting a motorcycle and so did I, so we could go riding,” Kasinski explained with a smile. Soon, his brother was riding along with them, too.

The trio has gone on trips to meet up with fellow bikers before -- that’s how they came up with the idea to host a similar event in Genesee County.

“That’s the thing, we’ve done it,” Kasinski said. “We pick two or three events a year and we just take a ride. That’s the whole fun part about owning a bike. No one wants to just ride around and around their own hometown forever.”

So in an effort to bring other riders here, Kasinski – with some help from the chamber of commerce – is hosting the Round-up Rally with plans to send riders downtown and throughout the county to check out what we’ve got to offer.

“Batavia has a lot to it – if you look at a map and see how all the streets come from different directions like Route 98, 63, 20, 33, 5 – every direction you could come from. We said, ‘Let’s bring 'em in from all over Western New York!’”

One event, aptly named Cruzin’ the County, aims to get bikers to do just that.

Businesses that aren’t located in downtown Batavia can sign on as sponsors of the event and then they’ll get the opportunity to have their place put on a map handed out to the riders. Places like Alli’s Cones and Dogs in Oakfield, Red Osier in Stafford and the Log Cabin in Corfu have already signed on.

“The map will show all the locations they (the riders) can go,” Kasinski explained. “It will also have an area for the business owners to put a stamp on it once a rider gets there. When riders come back to the Rally with a full sheet stamped, they can enter their map into a big cash drawing.”

The Cruzin’ the County cash winner will be announced at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 13.

Riders will also have the option to participate in the Rally Mug Club. Round-up Rally planners are working to create a logo to be printed on coffee mugs. Riders who get the printed mugs can enjoy discounts at restaurants and bars in Batavia. Eight different places will be printed on the mug.

“If you’re not from Batavia you don’t know the places in the city,” Kasinski said. “But if you have a list and a map, and a choice of location, and a discount for having the mug, you’ll try somewhere new.”

On the last day of the Round-up Rally, Kasinski and his crew are planning a Poker Run to benefit a charity.

“We’ll pick a few locations from Cruzin’ the County and we’ll start at the Clarion,” he said excitedly. “Then, riders will go out to each place and get a poker card. At the end of the day, whoever comes back with the best poker hand will win a prize.”

There are still sponsorship opportunities available for the Round-up Rally, and planners hope this first year is a huge success.

“What we’re hoping to see is a little more sponsorship from the members in the city,” Kasinski said. “At minimum, if they would be willing to sponsor a rider they would be recognized for it and the charities we pick would do so well and the Round-up Rally would have an awesome first year.”

For more information, visit their Web site or contact Dave Kasinski at 585-768-7260 or John Kasinski at 716-683-7647.

Harley-riding Border Patrol agents pass through Batavia, visit Stan's Harley

By Howard B. Owens

This morning, driving down Main Street, Batavia, I spotted a group Border Patrol agents riding Harley-Davidson Motorcycles, and I immediately thought, "I've never seen the Border Patrol on motor bikes before."

I would soon learn, this is an unusual sight -- there is only one motor bike unit with the Border Patrol in the United States, and they're based in Grand Island.

I stopped at an intersection next to the agents and asked one what they were up to and he told me they were headed to Stan's Harley-Davidson -- a pilgrimage of sorts, I gather.

The agents were in town to display their bikes at a Border Patrol co-sponsored golf tournament at Batavia Country Club.

Assistant Chief Mike Hester told me the Border Patrol invested in the Harley unit a year ago, during the previous administration, when the President was looking to double the size of the Border Patrol. Area agents found out that the Buffalo region has the second highest rate of Harley ownership in the nation, so a Harley unit was seen as a way to get into the community and recruit potential agents. Mostly, the Harley unit has been used at bike events and other community events, but they also patrol the tourist areas of Niagara, where heavy pedestrian traffic can make a typical cruiser harder and more dangerous to use.

Pictured are Supervisor Adam Matuszeiuski, Chief Hester, Acting Assistant Chief Andrew Scharnweber and Field Operations Supervisor Jason Heckler.

Stan's Harley was the group's last stop for the day in Genesee County before heading home.

Just When You Think Things Can't Get Any Worse

By Bea McManis

A friend of mine, Mark Williams, has had a horrific month.

Mark works in Silicon Valley but spends his summer in Tahoe.  He is an actor who does several summer stock plays in Tahoe during his summer break from work (he is a producer and product manager for a 

Three weeks ago, Mark just arrived in Tahoe to work on the play when he was called to Los Angeles to be with his brother who underwent surgery.  While with his brother, he received a call from his father in the Phoenix area.  Mark's mother had a stroke and the prognosis wasn't promising.

Mark drove to Phoenix from L.A. and began a vigil that lasted almost a week.  Mark's parents live about 20 miles from the city in a secluded spot in the desert.  His mom wanted to go home to spend her last days, but they couldn't find anyone who would do hospice care that far from the city.

Mark, another brother from Atlanta, and his father spent their days and nights with his Mom.  One day, he and his brother did drive out to the desert to give the house a thorough cleaning.  That was the extent of he being away from his parents.

Mark kept us all informed of his situation via FB.  Some posts were very sad, and some extremely funny.  Then, a week ago, he posted that his Mom had slipped away during the night.  Mark stayed a few more days then he was back to L.A. to bring his brother home from the hospital and then up to Tahoe to prepare for the play.

This morning Mark posted that his father's shop was destroyed by fire.  It made the Phoenix news.

Every family has their own trials and tribulations, but Ray Williams certainly has felt the weight of his in one big helping.



mayhemriders mc benefit and dice run

By chris johnson

Thank you so much for posting on your site, Please change the place of event to:

Mayhem Riders MC Benefit Fund Raiser for Patsy Rapone

Saturday August 22nd 2009 @ 2:00


East Bethany Fire hall


10440 Bethany Center Rd


East Bethany NY 14054


Mr. Rapone is the Father of one of our club member’s. He is a devoted, husband, father, grandfather, uncle, brother, and friend. He was diagnosed with small cell cancer, along with this battle he has heart problems, we are joining in an effort with other clubs, businesses, friends, & family member’s to help out the family with expenses.

Dice Run, Food, Drinks, Live Music, Chinese Auction, 50/50, Raffles

Dice run will start at Stans Harley Shop 4425 W. Saile Drive Batavia, NY

Sign up will be from 9 a.m.-11 a.m. we will make 5 stops and end at the E. Bethany Fire hall.

Highest and Lowest will win prizes

$25 Rider $10 passenger (includes benefit donation)

Tickets for this benefit will be sold prior and the day of for a $15 adults donation and under 12 $5 donation

Call (585) 356-0889 or (585) 813-9730 for tickets check out our website for any additional info

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