Potholes in PennDOT lot postpone motorcycle safety classes

SHANNON ROAE | Meadville TribuneMotorcycle safety classes at the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s Crawford County Maintenance Unit have been postponed due to the number of potholes in the parking lot where the classes take place.

MEADVILLE – Do fillers of potholes fill their own potholes?

As with so many philosophical conundrums, it’s complicated.

Motorcycle safety classes scheduled to begin Thursday at Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s Crawford County Maintenance Unit have been postponed, and beginning riders were told to seek similar classes in Erie or wait till later in the summer to take them in Meadville.

The source of the delay?

A plethora of potholes in the PennDOT parking lot.

“The winter was rough on the parking lot there on the Crawford County facility,” PennDOT spokeswoman Jill Harry said Friday. “They need to do some minor repairs.”

The lot was deemed too dangerous for the safety courses held annually at the facility during the warmer months — motorcycle weather.

Harry said PennDOT hopes to have the space available by June. The earliest classes listed for the Meadville location on the online registration website for the Pennsylvania Motorcycle Safety Program are in August. June and July classes were removed from the website out of an abundance of caution, according to Harry, so that the cancellation of classes would not be necessary again. Classes will be added if the lot is ready for use before August.

Repairing the lot in PennDOT’s own literal front yard would seem an easy fix, but it’s trickier than it seems, according to Harry.

“It’s the space the employees use all the time, so it’s not just a simple thing,” she said. “We make the repairs ourselves, so we don’t want to pull our crews off their repairs to the roadways.”

Roadway repairs are a higher priority than the parking lot, Harry said, and the motorcycle classes, while important, could be relocated.

Bill Bonecutter was as amused by the decision to relocate the classes as he was by PennDOT’s inability to fix its own potholes. A motorcycle rider for 53 of his 65 years, Bonecutter is president of the Crawford County chapter of the Alliance of Bikers Aimed Toward Education, the statewide organization that helped launch the PennDOT’s motorcycle safety classes.

“Why?” Bonecutter asked when he learned of the class cancellations. “What better way to learn to ride a motorcycle — dodge them potholes! It’s no different than the street.”

Taking a more serious tone, Bonecutter said the potholes that annoy drivers of cars are no joke for riders of motorcycles.

“Potholes, gravel, the tar and chips they put down — they’re very detrimental,” he said. “It’s like running on marbles.”

While a trip to Erie was a significant inconvenience, Bonecutter said the safety classes were worth the trip.

“It’s a good course and one needs to attend it no matter how far you need drive,” he said. “It’s just a shame they don’t keep their own (potholes) in order.”