SUNDAY, OCTOBER 15, 2006
COPS HAVE THEIR TICKET BOOKS READY FOR BIKETOBERFEST
Biketoberfest set to begin -- with more police attention
Ludmilla Lelis | Sentinel Staff Writer
Posted October 15, 2006
DAYTONA BEACH -- Police are warning motorcycle riders to cut out the roadway antics at this year's Biketoberfest -- with good reason.
No one wants to see a repeat of last year's death toll of five bikers killed among the tens of thousands of motorcycle riders who roared into the region.
That means an aggressive crackdown on hazardous behavior such as burnouts, wheelies and speeding, said Daytona Beach Sgt. Craig Buth.
"We want to make sure everyone has a safe Biketoberfest," Buth said. "And if that means issuing tickets, so be it."
A little brother of the immensely popular springtime Bike Week, Biketoberfest rumbles into town Thursday and rides out Sunday.
Tourism officials created the autumn event 14 years ago to attract tourists during the autumn season.
The formula worked, especially as both biker events have grown tremendously from the original hub at Main Street to venues across Central Florida.
Tourism officials expect up to 100,000 visitors, especially if the warm weather continues.
"Bikers like to ride, so there will be people all over the place," said Lori Campbell-Baker, Daytona Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau. "It's becoming a more regional event and has spread out."
Biketoberfest visitors can start that regional tour at the main Daytona venues, on Main Street, Beach Street and Mary McLeod Bethune Boulevard, then cruise up to Ormond Beach, where several biker bars on U.S. 1 and a massive Harley-Davidson dealership on Interstate 95 pull in the crowds. The Daytona International Speedway transforms its grounds into a biker haven, and even Ponce Inlet and New Smyrna Beach offer events to attract the Harley crowd.
Several motorcycle tours also take visitors on extended rides to St. Augustine or the Ocala National Forest, and the Harley-Davidson dealerships in other cities have been vying to pull the bikers their way.
Having venues throughout the region means that Daytona Beach has less of the gridlock it used to experience on the major arteries. But now the traffic accidents, including several of last year's fatalities, are occurring elsewhere, too.
To help with the influx, the Florida Highway Patrol will have extra troopers assigned to many roads west of Daytona Beach, Buth said.
"With the number of people coming, it's a challenge for law enforcement," he said. "But we have to be firm but fair, for everyone's safety."