At Monday’s city commission meeting, Mayor Bill Fanning declared May as Motorcycle Awareness Month.

He then presented the official proclamation to members of the Woodward chapter of the motorcycle organization “A Brotherhood Aiming Toward Education” (ABATE), which is celebrating its 20th year of service to area motorcyclists.

Todd Finley, who is the chapter’s state representative, said May is an appropriate time for Motorcycle Awareness Month since “statistically this time of year motorcyclist deaths are up.”

He said it is also an important time for the organization since some of it’s main goals revolve around increasing awareness about various aspects of motorcycling.

Finley, who has been a motorcycle enthusiast for almost 35 years, said the organization seeks to protect motorcyclist rights and freedoms and even lobbies at the state legislature for those rights.

As a non-profit organization, Woodward’s ABATE chapter also donates to several area charities, Finley said, including the Waynoka EMS, the Clinton VA hospital, the Woodward Food Pantry, and more.

However, keeping motorcyclists safe is perhaps one of the organizations biggest goals, he said, noting that ABATE often endorses and sponsors motorcycle safety programs.

In fact, Finley said the Woodward chapter is in the process of working with a safety instructor out of Seiling to establish a new motorcycle safety course.

He said that one of the biggest safety tips that the organization gives motorcyclists is to attend some sort of safety and training course.

“It’s important to know what your motorcycle is capable of and what you’re capable of as a rider,” he said.

Another important safety tip is

to wear protective clothing, Finley said.

He said protective clothing includes much more than just a helmet, it also includes leather gloves, leather chaps or pants, a leather jacket and boots.

Motorcyclists might not think that boots may be important, but Finley said that if it were not for the boots he was wearing, he might have lost his foot when he hit a deer with his motorcycle a couple of years ago.

However, he said Oklahoma is a “by choice” state that means for motorcycle drivers over 18, they can choose what safety gear they want to wear when they ride.

He said some motorcycle riders feel that wearing a helmet can be more harmful than helpful as it can interfere with their line of vision.

“Whatever the rider feels their level of comfort is, that’s what they should wear,” he said.

It is also helpful to install and utilize other safety equipment on their bikes, such as windshields, LED lights, and engine guards, he said.

He said louder pipes are another effective piece of safety equipment, because it will ensure that while the motorcycle may be hard to see, it will be easy to hear.

Other important safety tips deal with how motorcyclists should interact with other motorists on the road, from making sure that they ride in a lane position where other drivers can see them easily to making sure they have a way out of every traffic situation that may come up.

However, Finley said that safety on the road is a two way street, because while motorcyclists may do everything possible to make themselves visible, it will not matter if the other motorists are not paying attention.

There are certain things that automobile drivers can do as well to increase motorcycle safety, he said.

One safety tip, Finley said, would be for motorists to be more aware of the motorcycles on the road, be more vigilant and use extra caution when there are motorcyclists nearby.

He said it is important to watch out for hand signals the motorcyclist may be using since sometimes the turn indicators on motorcycles are not very visible.

It is also important to double check for motorcycles when changing lanes, he said since the smaller vehicles can be harder to see, especially if you just glance instead of really looking before you start to move over.

He said lane changes are one of the biggest causes of motorcycle accidents.

More information about motorcycle safety and the ABATE organization is available on the Woodward chapter’s website at

“We just want to be able to share the road with other motorists safely,” Finley said.

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