12/03/09 — Motorcycle riders protest helmet rule

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Motorcycle riders protest helmet rule

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on December 3, 2009 1:46 PM

Motorcycle and ATV riders need helmets to participate in Goldsboro's Christmas parade this year, a decision that is upsetting some area motorcycle club members, an organizer says.

Police Maj. Mike Hopper said the new requirement is a response to aggressive behavior by motorcycle riders in past parades and to comply with state law.

"It's a state law to wear a motorcycle or helmet on a street or highway, and in the past, it's kind of been overlooked," Hopper said. "But we've been getting more and more complaints from the public."

Police, too, have observed what Hopper described as "reckless behavior," including racing up to the next spot in the parade, only to slam on brakes when they spot the preceding parade entrant.

Daniel Thompson, who has helped to put motorcycle clubs in the Goldsboro Jaycees' Christmas Parade since 1991, said one complaint from riders is that children will not be able to see their faces.

"You see kids, the first thing they say to you is 'I saw you in the parade on that motorcycle,'" Thompson said. "We put our helmet on, kids, they are not going to know who we are, or what we're doing."

Thompson said as many as 100 motorcycles might participate in the parade this year, which has a "Polar Express" theme.

The motorcycle-club par-ade organizer, who owns a 2006 Suzuki Haybusa himself, argued that other parade entrants also might not be in compliance with the law.

He argued that parade floats and open truck beds were not a safe place for child-age riders, and that he believed allowing juveniles to ride there was also against state law.

Not so, Maj. Hopper said.

"People can ride in the back of pickup trucks, you just have to have an adult back there with them. It's state law. No, a juvenile can't ride back there by himself," Hopper said.

"But especially in farming states, there's provisions to allow people to ride in the back of pickups."

Hopper said motorcycle riders are used to wearing their head protection, and the parade route should not be an exception.

"They have to wear their helmets to (ride) up to the parades. It just makes sense that they have to wear their helmets during the parade," he said.