Rally Traffic Down Only 4 Percent From Last Year, So Far

Aug 10, 2020

Credit Lee Strubinger / SDPB

Sturgis Rally traffic has been on the rise during the first weekend of the event. The South Dakota Department of Transportation reports about 161,000 vehicles visited Sturgis in the first three days of the rally. That’s down about 4 percent from last year’s numbers. Many at the rally say they’re enjoying a respite from pandemic restrictions in their home state.

Some people at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally have traveled here from states with public health restrictions to limit transmission of the coronavirus. South Dakota has no restrictions - even during the rally.
 
One political scientist says this year, the Sturgis rally highlights the intersection of public health and personal freedoms.
 
Jon Shaff is a political science professor with Northern State University. He says the rally represents part of the American spirit.
 
“Barring certain circumstances—COVID age might be one of those circumstances—people should be left alone to live their lives as they see free,” Schaff says. “So, throughout US history, there’s been this resistance to being told what to do.”
 
Schaff says the intersection of public health concerns and personal freedoms, represent fundamental notions that are ripe for debate.
 
“Because both sides have legitimate concerns. We would have to negotiate those out and compromise and find some kind of conciliation of how can we balance these two very important goods?” Schaff adds. “Then, what tends to happen is our rhetoric has become partisan and overheated and muddied what should be a very interesting and fruitful discussion.”

Officials expect about 250,000 people to attend the Sturgis rally - that’s about half of last year’s total.