he 16th annual Republic of Texas Rally begins Thursday in Austin. The Austin Police Department is getting ready for the extra bikes on the road.
Last year, the rally brought in it largest recorded attendance with more than 200,000 bikers according to city officials.
The ROT Rally includes events at the Travis County Expo Center and throughout Downtown Austin. That puts those thousands of bikers on Austin roads constantly.
The Texas Department of Transportation is displaying messages on its digital highway signs reminding drivers of the increase in motorcycles this weekend.
Austin police are also kicking off a new traffic safety campaign called Cop on a Bike. It will put a plain clothes officer on a civilian bike to look for aggressive drivers. Another officer follows behind in an unmarked unit to make the stops.
Bikers we spoke with like the idea but they say they're also trying to get the biking community to be more pro-active about their own safety.
"We're trying to get people to pay more attention to them because most of these accidents are avoidable. So too with the drivers of the bikes. They need to pay attention," said biker Terri Williams, "They're their brother’s keeper. If your brother is too drunk don't let them ride on their bike. Go for them to the store from the rally. Wear all your safety gear. I mean from head to toe you know? It works both ways."
"We just need more of a response from the Community to don't text and drive, don't put on make-up and drive. Look out for motorcycles. They're everywhere," added biker Paul Landers of the US Defenders, a biker support group.
Napalm Motorsports in Northwest Travis County is donating the civilian bike to APD for the weekend.
Store managers say ROT rally is a big bonus for business. Foot traffic goes up and so do sales. The biggest increase comes with repair work on the bikes. The bikers come from all over the nation to Austin for this rally. The ride can take a toll on the bikes.
The rally begins Thursday and lasts through Sunday. Organizers say this year’s rally will host a set of concerts including a performance by rocker Brett Michaels.