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MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) - Organizers of Muskegon Bike Time hope the repeal of Michigan's helmet law will attract more out-of-state riders this year.
Muskegon Bike Time drew over 90,000 people last year, including riders from 20 states.
The event is celebrating its sixth year and beginning to build a national reputation, but this year there is something new-- no helmet law.
"We just had some push back in the last couple of years about the helmet law. They just would not cross the border and come in. Now we are getting a lot of positive calls," said Matthew Louck, the Vice President of Marketing for Muskegon Bike Time.
The passion amongst some bikers is so strong about their freedom of choice that it actually changes how they plan vacation time. Increasing tourism was one of the key arguments for the repeal of the law just three months ago.
The promise of the repeal of the helmet law caused one man to even transfer from his job in Virginia to Michigan when he had the option.
Clarence Ott says he made helmet laws his top priority when it came to moving.
"The first thing I did was look on the internet to find out who had helmet laws and who didn't, so that I could select a place to go where I did not have to wear a helmet when I ride," said Ott.
The organizers of Muskegon Bike Time say in some ways the Michigan's previous helmet law actually slowed the event's growth.
"We wanted people to know about it and I think people will know more over time and this event will get bigger and bigger," said Louck.
Jimi Flory says he is profiting from the change. His business repairs and sells leathers, along with motorcycle accessories. Even though Bike Time is just beginning he is already hearing from new customers.
"We are getting a lot more out-of-staters from Indiana and Ohio and it's bringing a lot more business," said Flory.
Marcia Scheio rode to Muskegon from Alabama. She says she wouldn't have done it if she had to wear helmet. She believes others will follow.
"I think people will come because of it. I know I did," said Scheio.
Spokesman Matthew Louck said Tuesday that about 35,000 motorcycles and 90,000 spectators attended the event over the course of the weekened. Louck said that's estimated to be the largest number of bikes the event has ever attracted.
Louck also said that the event's bike parking was filled to capacity and had some spillover into other parking areas. The event plans to secure more parking areas for the 2013 event, which will run July 18 to July 21.
Muskegon Bike Time -- http://www.muskegonbiketime.com/
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