There is one group of people in the world with a passion for motorcycle safety awareness – that that would be motorcyclists.

A local cycle club, the Gryphons, is taking proactive measures to ensure the public, especially motorists, is aware of motorcyclists on the roadways.

The Waxahachie-based club has received proclamations from Red Oak, Midlothian and Waxahachie, proclaiming May as Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month.

Asked about hazardous traffic maneuvers motorists commit against cyclists, Gryphon member Bob Gerlich was not lacking in an opinion.

“I’d say cars that turn left in front of a cycle and failure to yield are probably the greatest hazards to a motorcyclist in traffic,” Gerlich said. “Drivers need to drive aware, look twice, and motorcyclists need to drive as though they were invisible.”

He said the safest way for a cyclist to ride is to be defensive in traffic.

“Another thing to remember is the extra hazards cyclists face in the summer,” said “Fast” Eddie Herbert, another Gryphon member. “People have their windows up and air conditioners, stereos going and many are talking on their cell phones. We ride a lot – all over the country, and we’ve found that we have to look out for ourselves because no one else out there will.”

“Suds” Jimmy Vaughn, national secretary of Independent Motorcycle Club, said another problem cyclists face locally is a failure to yield.

“This happens on access roads,” he said. “People will just run through yield signs.”

The club members are strong advocates for new riders taking a motorcycle safety course.

“Senate Bill 1967 has passed the Senate and the House and it calls for a mandatory motorcycle safety course for new riders,” Vaughn said. “People just starting out need to learn the laws pertaining to motorcyclists like, for instance, motorcycle passengers under 21 have to wear a helmet.”

The Gryphons Motorcycle Club is involved in several charitable fundraisers, including its annual toy run, which is set for Dec. 13, 2009, with a run from Midlothian to the Sokol Hall on State Highway 34, just east of Ennis.

“Last year, there were 2,547 motorcyclists that participated in our toy run,” Herbert said.

For more information about motorcycle safety laws, visit the Web site at

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