'Large influx of visitors' expected in Port Dover for Friday the 13th event, say OPP

The roar of motorcycles is set to return to a sleepy Lake Erie town for an annual Friday the 13th pilgrimage.

OPP say they are expecting a large number of people to descend on Port Dover with few restrictions brought by COVID-19, which limited participation for those not from the community over the past two years.

Last month, the county issued a statement acknowledging potential “traffic-related issues” and saying municipal staff were working with organizers and the surrounding community to mitigate possible licensing and enforcement problems.

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“While residents will no longer be required to show proof of residency – or a resident dash pass to enter town or checkpoints, they still must adhere to the by-law, prohibiting driving and parking on streets that are closed,” the city said in a mid-April release.

Pre-pandemic, the famous biker showcase had drawn crowds of over 100,000 on occasion over the decades, including an estimated 140,000 in 2018, according to OPP.

Last August, only about 40,000 made the trip to an event that still had some public health restrictions tied to the pandemic.

The 2022 gathering will include some fixtures not seen in since 2019, including a main stage with live bands Thursday and Friday in the Elmer Lewis parking lot on Main Street between Chapman and Market streets.

“As motorcycle enthusiasts descend on Port Dover, there will be an increase in motorcycle traffic and the OPP is asking all drivers to take those two extra seconds before making a lane change or proceeding through an intersection,” Norfolk OPP Insp. Shawn Johnson said in a release.

Johnson says OPP will have a “highly visible” presence dealing with traffic-related issues and is urging vehicle owners and operators to be aware of no parking signage and tow-away zones.

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The county says event-goers should also be aware of numerous street closures, which include:

From 3 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. on Friday:

  • Nelson Street East (from St. Patrick to Highway 24)
  • Greenock St. West (from St. George to Richardson Drive)
  • Richardson Drive (from Nelson Street West to Greenock Street)

From 4 p.m. on Thursday until early Saturday:

  • Main Street (from Clifford Street to Walker Street)
  • Market Street East (from Main Street to St. Andrew Street)
  • Market Street West (from St. George Street to Main Street)
  • Park Street

OPP say airspace around the downtown core in Port Dover will be closed.

The space is set to be restricted to just police, medevac and rescue aircraft.

“During the events of Friday the 13th, air space is closed for four nautical miles from the centre of town in Port Dover to 2000 feet above surface,” acting Sgt. Ed Sanchuk said in a release.

“This will reduce any conflicts with other remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) or low flying aircraft.”

The move means drones or other types of low flying aircraft are not authorized in the areas unless authorized by Transport Canada.


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