Tracking the Sturgis Rally: Where Bikers Came from in 2020
Back in June, when the Sturgis city council voted 8-1 to allow the annual Motorcycle Rally to go on as planned despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of health experts wondered about what impact, if any, the expected gathering of more than a quarter of a million or more people from around the country would have on the spread of coronavirus.
While the infection numbers haven't materialized yet, we now have a much better understanding of exactly where the bikers at the 80th rally came from.
Bloomberg Law, using cell phone tracking data from the research firm Safegraph, is reporting that just on the first day of the rally - Friday, August 7 - bikers arrived in South Dakota from at least 39 states and 680 counties.
Not surprisingly, the largest concentration of attendees came from the Upper Midwest, but the data also shows significant numbers from as far away as Texas and Florida.
Information from the South Dakota Department of Transportation shows that roughly 50,000 vehicles arrived in the town of 7,000 on August 7.
According to the website RideApart, the final numbers from the South Dakota Highway Patrol show that 365,979 people attended the event (7.5% fewer than 2019). Crashes were up slightly this year (116), while the number of fatalities doubled (4) from the previous year.
DUI arrests were down slightly (145), misdemeanor drug arrests were up (241), with felony drug arrests down slightly (126).
On the economic front, vendors reported increased spending from attendees in 2020.
As for the health fallout from this year's rally, with symptoms of COVID-19 sometimes taking as many as 14 days to appear, we may never know exactly how many people who traveled to the rally in 2020 brought home something more than a t-shirt from their time in the Black Hills.