Police to close airspace over Port Dover for Friday the 13th biker rally
May 12, 2022 By J.P. Antonacci, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator
Police will control the skies over Port Dover on Friday the 13th.
The airspace extending 2,000 feet up and four nautical miles out from the centre of town will be closed to unauthorized aircraft and drones during what could be a giant motorcycle rally.
In a media release, Norfolk County OPP said only drones and aircraft operated by law enforcement or used for medical evacuations will be permitted to fly throughout the Friday the 13th festivities.
“This will ensure that no conflicts will take place with other individuals attempting to use drones or aircraft that may put the public at risk or interfere with police operations,” acting Sgt. Ed Sanchuk said.
Sanchuk told The Spectator closing the airspace over Friday the 13th gatherings is nothing new, noting the same precaution has been taken at past editions of the rally when large crowds were expected.
With warm weather in the forecast and Norfolk County council not actively discouraging people from attending in the name of public health, as happened earlier in the pandemic, tens of thousands of visitors could roar into the lakeside town.
Sanchuk said visitors should expect traffic delays and a “highly visible police presence” throughout the day.
Bikers should also make safety a priority, he added.
The OPP recently released a report on motorcyclist fatalities over the past decade. Police determined rider error was to blame in 60 per cent of the 342 fatal motorcycle crashes on Ontario roads between 2012 and 2021.
Last year alone, 35 bikers were killed in roadway crashes, with most victims between 45 and 54 years old. The OPP found the most common causes of motorcycle-related crashes are speeding, failing to yield the right of way and “driver inattention.”
“As motorcycle enthusiasts descend on Port Dover, there will be an increase in motorcycle traffic and the OPP is asking all drivers to take those two extra seconds before making a lane change or proceeding through an intersection,” said Insp. Shawn Johnson, interim Norfolk OPP detachment commander.