Motorcycle sales up, accidents down on P.E.I.

More Islanders are buying motorcycles, but the number of accidents and vehicle-related deaths are dropping, according to Prince Edward Island's Department of Transportation.

Four years ago, Janet Neill bought a Harley Sportster, and named her Cleo.

“It’s awesome to be on the bike, to feel the wind and just go. It's freedom,” she said.

She's not alone. More Islanders than ever before are buying bikes, especially women.

“More people buying, more people looking, a lot of research, and homework, and thinking about it,” said Red Rock Harley Davidson sales manager Jamie Lowther.

The department said the number of people licenced to drive motorcycles has been increasing by about 500 a year. P.E.I. now has close to 10,000 licenced motorcycle drivers.

Neill said she knows firsthand how motorcycles are more vulnerable than other vehicles on the road.

“I've had a couple of close calls, I've had people pull right out in front of me and we had to stop quickly, and I've been a passenger on back when we've had cars trying to put us in the ditch that haven't seen us,” she said.

Over the last five years, there were about 120 motorcycle accidents, and 10 people died. But those numbers are significantly down from the five years previous, with nearly 200 collisions and 14 deaths.

“I think both vehicle operators and motorcycle operators are, they're being extra cautious I'd like to say, and hope they continue to do so,” said Transportation Minister Robert Vessey.

The province said it plans to put out flashing lights this summer reminding people about motorcycles.

Riders aren't required by law to take a safety course, but it's something motorcycle staff say is essential.

“It’s going to teach you about balance, about the motorcycle, what you’re capable with the bike. It's also going to teach you accident avoidance, and god forbids, if something were to happen, how to deal with an accident,” said Lowther.

The New Brunswick chapter of the Canada Safety Council puts on the weekend safety workshop throughout the summer.

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