The 80th Annual Sturgis Bike Rally Starts Today Some Locals Are Not Happy about it. Despite objections from a majority of its residents, a South Dakota city is preparing to host what some locals say is the largest gathering of motorcycle enthusiasts in the world. When polled by the city, over 60 percent of Sturgis’ full-time residents said they thought that the 80th Annual Sturgis Bike Rally should be canceled for 2020. Nevertheless, it’s going on. AMERiders explains.
Attendance for Sturgis is expected to be around 250,000 people, which is lower than typical years, but still much bigger than probably any other U.S. event being held this year. Heck, the Indianapolis 500 was canceled, delayed, rescheduled, and will finally run later in August without any fans in the stands because the situation is so serious in 2020.
The celebration — which usually draws about 500,000 people — will take place as the coronavirus pandemic remains out of control in cities across the country and health experts warn against large gatherings that help fuel the spread. South Dakota has reported more than 9,000 cases of the virus, among the lowest state tally in the country. And Meade County — home to Sturgis — has recorded about 78 infections, according to state data.
Citizens would rather canceled the rally this year
Some 60% of Sturgis residents, when surveyed, told the city they’d rather the event not proceed as scheduled this year.
But city manager Daniel Ainslie, who expects attendance to be lower this year than in previous ones, said the city council had already heard from thousands who were planning on making the trip and had little choice but to prepare for the crowds.”As a city, there’s nothing we could do, we’re not able to put up roadblocks and say, ‘You can’t come in,'” he said. “And it was quite obvious that we were going to have a lot of people here, even if we didn’t call it the rally. The issue is if we did not officially sanction it as a rally, then we would not be able to prepare for it.”
They also heard from several businesses in the region who said they’d be seeking relief from the city if they lost the revenue that usually pours in during the rally, the city manager said. At least one business threatened litigation if the rally was postponed.
Ultimately, the city council decided to proceed with a pared-down version of the usual rally. “Within the city of Sturgis, we have canceled a lot of our small events that we usually host during the week, a lot of contests and bike shows … that usually draw a crowd. All of those have been canceled,” city spokeswoman Christina Steele said. Additionally, she said, viewing platforms usually put up by the city weren’t set up this year as they would be hard to keep sanitized.
The city will provide personal protective equipment to businesses that will be working during the rally, Ainslie said, and recommend sanitizing stations and 50% capacity at bars and restaurants.
But none of that is legally enforceable, he said.”But we are requiring them to post that recommended capacity limitation so that people are fully aware when they’re going in,” he said. “If an individual decides to proceed in, then it’s by their choice.”
A few comments from residents
One resident said, they have asthma, and amid the crowd influx, they feel like they’ll be confined to their home to stay safe.”I fear that I will live in my house for a month after this if not six months after this until it all clears,” said the resident, who spoke on the condition of anonymity in fear of retaliation.
“There are people from other states coming here that have had massive breakouts in their cities and in their states and they’re coming here and they’re traveling here in RVs,” the resident said. “You don’t think they’re going to bring it here to the state and get local residents infected?”
One resident said they have several family members, most of whom are older, that live in the city as well.
“My grandma is absolutely terrified because she has diabetes and is in her 80s and has lupus,” they said. “If she gets it, it’s a death sentence.”
Cheyenne and Pine River Reservations have COVID-19 Travel Restrictions
All persons who are using highways on tribal lands as through highways may be routed elsewhere on select reservations. Travelers should be aware and mindful that these checkpoints could be expanded to other tribal lands with no prior notice. As of late July, the following travel delays can be expected:
Pine Ridge Reservation: Through traffic is allowed to the Pine Ridge Reservation although travel delays should be expected due to checkpoint screening.
Cheyenne River Reservation: Travelers should expect checkpoints requiring rerouting at all entry points to the Cheyenne River Reservation. State highways are restricted to commercial, local, and essential service traffic only. We recommend that travelers take an alternate route to avoid the checkpoints on the tribal lands in South Dakota operated by tribal law enforcement.
It is to be assumed that you will be rerouted. We are especially asking motorcycle traffic to be mindful of the reroutes due to limited proximity to nearby gas stations. It is important to note that online mapping shows that there are travel delays and travel disruption, but it does not clearly indicate the necessity to reroute. Please plan accordingly.
For more information on this check the article here.
In a campground about three miles away from Sturgis that’s become central in the rally’s festivities, music concerts are scheduled every day of the rally. Performers include the rock band Smash Mouth.
Owner Rod Woodruff says there will be changes there as well.
“Certainly, things look different. You have these little stickers on the ground and on the floor, for example, that say, ‘hey, don’t forget six feet,'” he said. “And ‘hand sanitizer here.’ We didn’t use to have those. So we follow guidelines.
“The Sturgis Buffalo Chip campground prides itself on giving attendees the “authentic rally experience” and, Woodruff says, operates almost solely around the days-long rally.
“This event is our raison d’etre,” he said. “Our reason for existence is to service the motorcycle enthusiasts, the freedom of American people, period.
“Several thousand people camp onsite each year, he says, adding most people have no problem keeping a distance in the two-mile-long area. He says the camp is doing what it can to provide for a safe vacation, but attendees are also “exercising their personal responsibility.”
“These people on motorcycles, they’re risking their lives every time they come across an intersection that has a car that can come out there and kill them,” he said. “And so they’re not all that concerned about a virus when they know what is needed to do in order to stay safe and minimize the risks of infection.”
If you are headed out to the 80th Annual Sturgis Bike Rally please be safe both with COVID-19 regulations and riding.
~And as always…
~Live Free Ride Hard~
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