LACONIA — There will be no special traffic plan in Weirs Beach during this year’s Motorcycle Week, a decision supported by Police Chief Matt Canfield who said the normal traffic pattern will discourage crowds from gathering.
The decision was reached Thursday after city officials, including Canfield, met on Lakeside Avenue, with Laconia Motorcycle Week Association President Charlie St. Clair, who wanted the same arrangement as in prior years that includes one-way traffic on Lakeside Avenue.
Also on Thursday, Canfield disavowed a news story in another publication saying that he was advocating the cancellation of Motorcycle Week because of the continuing coronavirus pandemic.
“I absolutely support Laconia Motorcycle Week,” he said. “I think the changes (organizers) have put in place are reasonable.”
Canfield said what he opposed was St. Clair’s move to have the special traffic pattern that has been in effect for the more than 20 years. In addition to one-way traffic on Lakeside Avenue — Weirs Beach’s main drag — that plan has also included parking for motorcycles in the middle of the street where it fronts the boardwalk.
Centerline parking for motorcycles would just encourage more bikers to stop which could very well lead to crowding which in turn would make it more difficult to maintain social distancing, Canfield said.
The City Council on July 13 approved having the city work with the Motorcycle Week Association to hold the event from Aug. 22 to 30, but without vendor booths and many of the other longtime features because of the COVID-19 crisis.
St. Clair said he expected the turnout for this year’s event will be smaller than usual.
“There won’t be hordes, but it will be busy,” St. Clair said.
“We’re doing what we have to do to make it as safe as we have to,” he added.
St. Clair said the association is paying to have Nano Coating Technology, a Tilton company, to come to Weirs Beach a few days before Motorcycle Week starts to wash down the sidewalks, railings, and the rally headquarters tent with a special disinfecting solution which he said kills the coronavirus on contact and remains effective for 90 days afterward. In addition he said the association will be handing out and selling masks to those on Lakeside Avenue.
“I expect most people will be wearing masks,” St. Clair said. “Those who don’t will more than likely be locals.”
Canfield said he expects that the traffic during the busiest times of Motorcycle Week will be similar to the Fourth of July weekend.
In a memo sent to the City Council on Thursday, City Manager Scott Myers said city authorities will review the traffic flow part way through the week and if there are problems, one-way traffic will be instituted, with motorcycles using the left lane, and other vehicles staying in the right lane.
The city will also assist the association for the departures of charity motorcycle rides which will leave Weirs Beach in the mornings of Aug. 23 through Aug. 27.