Illinois summertime nemesis for motorcyclists: “green ice”

Freshly cut grass that is left unbagged and instead strewn over lawns is encouraged by landscapers and conservationists. It acts as a fertilizer and is altogether healthy for yards and parkways across Illinois.

The same obviously cannot be said for the practice when the grass hits pavement. When that occurs, the clippings instantly become imperiling agents on the roadway, posing especially dire consequences for one demographic.

Namely, that is motorcyclists. It is no big deal when a passenger vehicle or larger commercial conveyance passes over a bunch of clippings on a street or road. For a far more vulnerable motorcycle rider, though, the downside implications are eminently clear. A motorcycle hitting strewn grass at even a modest speed can easily lose control.

The sobering consequences linked with that have already been confirmed. Deaths from what safety groups and law enforcers call “green ice” have been reported in at least two states.

One of those is Illinois, where a rider skidding on clippings hit another biker and died after being ejected from her bike.

Understandably, no one wants to hear similar reports in the future. Safety advocates are strongly urging authorities to alert the public to the danger and couple warnings with penalties against those who contribute to the danger. A spokesperson for one motorcycle organization says that, unlike snow, rain and ice, strewn-about clippings are “a hazard that occurs due to laziness.”

Notably, Illinois already has a no-litter law that subjects individuals who shoot clippings out into roadways to a $1,500 fine for a first offense. State officials vow to more stringently enforce it in the future.