Omaha area riders pay tribute to killed motorcyclist

A motorcyclist is remembered by her friends
Published: Jul. 2, 2022 at 5:14 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Dozens of local motorcycle enthusiasts gathered Saturday morning to pay tribute to one of their own.

They want to get the word out that safety on our roads affects us all, especially those on two wheels.

It’s the cause of many motorcycle accidents.

“Gravel, rocks, debris, anything that’s in the roadway, for a car it could just be a speed bump, for us as motorcyclists that could be life or death,” motorcyclist Mate Lee said.

Friends say Tabitha Barker loved dogs, crafting and riding motorcycles.

A strong advocate of motorcycle safety, Tabitha was killed on June 23 when she lost control of her motorcycle near 108th and Interstate 80.

“She was a huge inspiration to all of us women riders, she was very encouraging, very ride you own pace,” Barker’s friend Katie Keller said. “Giving you tips, encouraging us to get out more to try and get more comfortable, be part of the community.”

“It’s all about community and that’s why we’re banding together for her is to show support for her and her family,” friend Tim Wheeler said.

The gathering Saturday morning near 102nd and West Maple Road was to pay tribute to Tabitha.

“This is such a huge thing to support our fallen riders and not just today but every day,” Lisa Greeno said. “Never forget them. You know they’re up there watching over us and protecting us as we’re down here on the streets,”

These riders understand there are certain risks involved when they take to the road.

“A lot of times when an accident happens it’s always a play of the cards, what were the variables that lead to the accident, Lee said. “A lot of us we preach awareness, we preach awareness, pay attention, the rider. Pay attention and the driver pay attention.”

And before getting on the bike:

“Make sure that you’ve got your preventative measures, make sure that you’ve got your safety gear,” Lee said.

Federally approved helmets and leathers to protect the body, and some riders prefer some extra body protection. And for those in cars, it’s important to be aware of motorcycles as we travel. They can sometimes slip into a blind spot.

These riders suggest taking a few extra seconds during turns and lane changes.

And don’t get distracted by motorcyclists.

“Especially when women are riding, people want to stop and look, so they stop paying attention to the road in front of them because they are concerned that ‘oh, there’s a woman on a bike,’” Keller said. “We need you to pay attention to the road as much as we are.”

“Whether we’re on a bike, a bicycle, a car, everybody has friends and family who care,” Wheeler said. “We all need to work together on making sure that everybody gets home safely.”

“No matter what the cause, we stick together, whether you knew her a little bit, whether you didn’t know her at all,” Greeno said. “Two wheels one love.”

Tabitha Barker was also honored by her beloved Kansas City Chiefs who sent her family a certificate of sympathy saying she will always be a part of the Chiefs kingdom.

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