Authorities, experts offer tips on motorcycle safety after string of Aurora fatalities

The crashes — which come a year after Colorado had the most fatal motorcycle crashes since 2002 — have police asking motorcyclists and other motorists to pay more attention on the roads

AURORA | In the span of a recent week, four motorcycle riders died in three separate Aurora crashes.

The crashes — which come a year after Colorado had the most fatal motorcycle crashes since 2002 — have police asking motorcyclists and other motorists to pay more attention on the roads.

Aurora police Lt. Michael McClelland, who oversees the department’s traffic section, said the biggest problem investigators see is distracted motor vehicle drivers — absorbed by phones, kids in the car or even the radio — who don’t notice motorcycles.

“Motorcycles are already hard enough to see as it is,” he said.

20160911-Motorcycle-Aurora, Colorado

Kent McDaniel, a rider coach with Mile High Harley, helps students with a motorcycle safety class on Sunday Sept. 11, 2016 at their riding course near North Airport Boulevard and East Centertech Parkway. Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora Sentinel

20160911-Motorcycle-Aurora, Colorado

Kent McDaniel, a rider coach with Mile High Harley, helps students with a motorcycle safety class on Sunday Sept. 11, 2016 at their riding course near North Airport Boulevard and East Centertech Parkway. Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora Sentinel

20160911-Motorcycle-Aurora, Colorado

Kent McDaniel, a rider coach with Mile High Harley, helps Tina Brown with a motorcycle safety class on Sunday Sept. 11, 2016 at their riding course near North Airport Boulevard and East Centertech Parkway. Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora Sentinel

20160911-Motorcycle-Aurora, Colorado

Motorcycle riders take a motorcycle safety class on Sunday Sept. 11, 2016 at their riding course near North Airport Boulevard and East Centertech Parkway. Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora Sentinel

The department’s traffic section posted a video to their Facebook page last week detailing some of the safety options motorcyclists have, including brightly-colored reflective clothes and, most importantly, helmets.

The recent string of crashes started Aug. 31 when a motorcyclist speeding on East Quincy Avenue slammed into a car at South Genoa Street. Police said the car was trying to make a left turn in front of the motorcycle when the crash happened.

The coroner identified the deceased rider as Alfred Blanchard, 22.

On Sept. 5, police say two people riding a motorcycle on Parker Road near East Temple Drive were thrown from the bike when it slammed into a minivan making a left turn in front of them. Both riders, driver Brandon Dobson, 21, and passenger Breona Knight, 20, were killed.

McClelland said neither were wearing helmets.

The next day, Joseph Shropshire, 52, was killed when he crashed in the 20300 block of East Jewell Avenue. Police said a red Toyota Tacoma turned in front of the motorcycle, causing the crash. The driver of the truck was charged with careless driving resulting in death.

Those crashes bring the total number of motorcyclists killed this year in Aurora to six. There were five all of last year.

Statewide, there have been 87 motorcycle fatalities so far in 2016, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation. Last year, the state saw 105, the most since at least 2002.

McClelland said he doesn’t see the recent uptick in crashes as a trend, but added motorcyclists should do whatever they can to make themselves more visible on the road.

Don Gunn, program manager for the riding academy at Rocky Mountain Harley Davidson, said safety goes beyond protective gear.

“People who ride, a lot of them don’t have any training whatsoever,” he said. “They are kind of self-taught and they do whatever they can just to get their license.”

Gunn, 72, has been riding since he was 12 and is a retired Denver police motorcycle officer and trainer.

Even for experienced riders, taking additional training can be helpful, he said.

“I believe in training very much,” he said.

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