Thousands of motorcyclists will kick off the unofficial start of the riding season during the "Spring Flood Run" Saturday, April 20. The route takes riders along the scenic Mississippi and St. Croix Valley roadways between the Twin Cities and Winona.

Motorists need to use extra caution this weekend with as many as 30,000 motorcyclists riding during the event. Riders should take safety into their own hands and motorists are encouraged to always look twice for motorcycles.

To ensure a safe riding environment, law enforcement agencies in Goodhue and Pierce counties, including the Minnesota and Wisconsin State Patrol, local police and county sheriff's offices, will be out along the route. Some agencies will have extra enforcement to target speeding and impaired driving.

Here are some safety tips for motorists and motorcyclists:

Motorists

• Watch for motorcycles. Due to the smaller size of motorcycles, their speed and distance is more difficult to judge.

• Always look twice before entering a roadway or changing lanes.

• Give riders room and check blind spots.

• Pay attention and drive at safe speeds.

Riders

• Be prepared for inattentive drivers by staying focused on riding and keeping your speed in check.

• Wear the gear. Motorcyclists are highly encouraged wear a DOT-approved helmet and brightly colored protective gear for visibility and protection.

• Don't drink and ride. One-third of all motorcycle fatalities involve impaired riders.

• Take a training course. Training is underway at most MMSC training sites. Visit motorcyclesafety.org for information.

• Maintain a minimum 2-second following distance and watch for uneven spots on the road.