November 30, 2021

Motorcyclists say practice of keeping a distance comes naturally

Todd R. McAdam/managing editor

Don Titus of Groton Cycle Center in Groton stands amid dozens of bikes. social distancing while riding is easy, he said, and when motorcyclists park and socialize, respect is important.

Motorcyclists are ready to get out. When the sun is shining, they are riding and it’s common for the bikers to be a part of a club.

Staying socially distanced because of the coronavirus while riding is easy, said Don and Kyle Titus of Groton Cycle Center in Groton. Motorcyclists maintaining a safe distance on the road, just because of speed, are far more than 6 feet apart. Even if they ride two abreast, rather than single file, they’ll stagger their spacing.

And once they’re off the bikes? “Bikers are inherently respectful of space,” Don Titus said. “Most of those people are OK with social distancing and that stuff. It’s part of the culture.”

Two people on one bike is another matter, Don Titus said. There is no getting 6 feet apart on 1,000 pounds of chrome, leather and engine. However, he suspects two people on the same bike are already close — spouses, perhaps.

As he walks through his shop, past a military-themed bike with an image of his father — a Korean War veteran and a bike specially designed to carry caskets for veterans’ funerals, Titus discussed the culture. It’s not just Harley-Davidsons, it’s Hondas and Suzukis and Kawasakis.

Bikes are customized to the rider’s taste — a personal statement. His lead mechanic, William Walsh, is assembling one bike for a Marine and they’re converting another bike to a trike for a rider with health concerns. Bikes are a statement to be respected.

And if that statement is to stay 6 feet away, Titus said, well so be it. He’s a cancer survivor, himself, and at 62, both mean he’s susceptible to coronavirus. He’s not particularly afraid of contracting it. But spreading it? That’s another matter.

The Cortland Chrome Divas are also still out riding said director Toni Miller. “We take the precautions that we have to,” she said. “Most of us wear a neck gaiter. You just pull it up over your face.”

But she said they aren’t stopping and hanging out at their normal spots, anymore. If they stop at a gas station to fill up, they stand outside 6 feet apart.

But the Chrome Divas, whose mission is to bring awareness to women’s and children’s issues in the community as well as motorcycle safety, also do fundraising events. They’ve needed to find alternative ways to raise money. They had to cancel a bingo event Saturday.

“We do have another event that we haven’t canceled yet. We’re just waiting to see what’s happening with opening up New York,” Miller said.

That next event, Divas and Dudes for a Cure, isn’t until Aug. 15. “We have a little time so we haven’t done much yet with that,” she said. They still have raffles using Paypal and Venmo.

Motorcyclists need to be “aware of how close you are to each other and “you might want to elbow” instead of shaking hands or hugging, she said, but they can still get out and ride and have fun.