Clippings on roads danger to motorcycles


A county resident shared with the Dubois County Commissioners on Monday the danger motorcyclists and bicyclists face when encountering grass clippings on roads.

Russell Friedman told the commissioners that clippings left on a road interfere with motorcycle and bicycle tires’ contact to the road, which makes it easier for the motorcycle or bike to slide off the road.

“My motorcycle weighs 850 pounds. Put a rider or two riders on that and hit a curve, that momentum shoves you,” he said. “Take the contact away from the asphalt, it makes it even worse.”

Friedman asked the commissioners to consider passing an ordinance requiring people to get their grass clippings off county roads, which would make the roads safer for riders.

“The fear is that you lose traction, especially when it’s wet,” he said. “You’re in a curve or pop over a hill, and don’t know what’s there.”

Friedman has talked to a few mowers he’s come across about the matter, and while some comply and remove the clippings, some do not.

“A lot of people either don’t care or don’t realize the situation,” he said. “It’s not the ones that have a few blades of grass. It’s when (mowers) let it pile it up. You completely lose contact with the road.”

He’s talked to other motorcyclists and bicyclists who also have concerns. Friedman gave the commissioners a petition signed by more than 100 people who agree that clippings need to be removed from roads.

He knows of one rider in Dubois County who has slid and fallen twice. “It wasn’t any major injuries, because he was going pretty slow at the time” Friedman said.

He told the commissioners of accidents in the last two years, some of them fatalities, in Indiana, Kentucky, Illinois and West Virginia, all due to motorcycles sliding on grass clippings.

The commissioners understood the danger and said they would work on developing an ordinance to address clippings on county roads.

Commissioner Nick Hostetter said this will also have to be balanced with the safety of the mower.

As a mower who does go back to blow clippings back into his own yard, he said he worries about his back being to traffic.

“I’m kind of scared of that,” he said, adding that he does it, but he has to make sure that it’s safe for him to turn around and go back to blow the clippings back onto his land.

“What’s the line there?” Hostetter asked. “How do we balance that, where (mowers) have time to come back and do that?”

Commissioner Elmer Brames questioned how such an ordinance could be enforced.

“It could be that by the time law enforcement gets there, the grass could have blown off the road and be gone already,” he said.

Locally, some municipalities have an ordinance prohibiting clippings on roads, Commissioner Chad Blessinger said. The State of Indiana does not.

Friedman hopes people will become more aware of the danger clippings on the road poses to riders.

“If people make an effort to get it off the road, that would be appreciated,” he said.

The commissioners also:

• Deemed that Anthony Lemond has completed the cleanup of trash and debris from his property at 6360 W. County Road 350S. Lemond still has to work with the health department to have a septic system on the land and he still owes the county $334, which was the fine for the violations.

• Agreed to let the county clerk’s office participate in a pilot program with the state to test cyber security election protection. It will involve monitoring ingoing and outgoing activity at the clerk’s office only, which has access to the state voters registration system; it does not involve actual elections. The Indiana Secretary of State’s Office will pay for the three-year pilot, Clerk Amy Kippenbrock said.

• Purchased for the highway department a road grader from Whayne Supply for $264,728.

• Approved using a section of County Road 700 West on Saturday, Sept. 14, for the annual Irish road bowling event. The section of the street from 5169 N. County Road 700W to the road’s intersection with County Road 550 West will be used from 12:30 to 6:30 p.m. that day.

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