Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Sees More Than 500k Vehicles
STURGIS, S.D. (AP) — More than half a million vehicles rolled into the small western South Dakota city that hosts the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally this year, a jump from last year but well short of the crowds that flooded the area in 2015, according to the South Dakota Department of Transportation.
This year's traffic was sustained throughout the 10-day rally that ended Sunday in Sturgis, a town of about 6,900 people that swells with bikers each year, Sturgis City Manager Daniel Ainslie told the Rapid City Journal.
Increased advertising helped boost and maintain the rally crowd this year, Ainslie said. The ads targeted individuals who may not have attended the rally before or have only attended once. Rally organizers also focused on visitors within a 6-hour ride from Sturgis, Ainslie said.
"Based on what we're seeing from the demographics and from the traffic counts, that definitely worked," he said.
Data gathered from nine locations around the city show a nearly 8 percent increase in traffic over last year, which saw 469,100 vehicles. Ainslie said the number of vehicles at last year's rally started strong but fell off as the event progressed.
This year, the tally was 505,969 vehicles, which includes motorcycles, automobiles, trucks, and motorhomes. Still, the number was shy of the 2015 traffic, when 747,032 vehicles rolled into the city for the 75th annual rally.
Final attendance figures for this year will be determined at a post-rally summit in October, Ainslie said.
The final count will tally traffic in Sturgis and at Mount Rushmore, about 50 miles (80.5 kilometers) south, along with the number of motorcycles parked at key points and times in the city. Officials will also consider overall sales tax revenues and trash tonnage collected during the rally.
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