Get your motor runnin', head out on the highway, but safety first

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Ryan Whitney
  • Nellis Public Affairs
Many people enjoy the thrill of the wind in their face, bugs in their teeth and riding on a traffic-free highway. Whether it's a sport bike or a cruiser, everyone can find something to enjoy in motorcycles.

The drawback to the adventure of riding a motorcycle is, undoubtedly, the level of safety; rider's are no longer restrained by a metal cage. The only protection one gets on a motorcycle is the clothes on his back and riding skill.

To ensure Airmen are adequately prepared to ride, certain rules and requirements must be met by the motorcyclist's.

"These aren't rules that we made up out of spite. They are actually recommendations that motorcycle classes suggest to riders to ensure their safety," said Staff Sgt. Cody Sturgeon, 99th Air Base Wing ground safety technician.

One of the most important things riders must know is the proper equipment needed for riding.

Airmen must wear the proper Department of Transportation approved helmet. These come in multiple styles, shapes and sizes, from the full-face helmet often used with sports bikes to the half helmet that is popular with many of the cruisers.

Airmen must also wear the proper clothing for riding: long sleeve, pants and shirts, as well as sturdy shoes that cover the ankle.

"There are so many different reasons for wearing this type of clothing," said Dale Bowgren, Nevada Department of Public Safety basic rider's course instructor. "The biggest reason is protection, and there are a lot of different materials and types of jackets made specifically for riders."

One of the biggest problems riders experience is their visibility, said Mr. Bowgren.

To make the riders more visible, a new policy letter has been released by Col. Michael Bartley, 99th Air Base Wing commander. The new policy letter mandates that 24 square inches of reflective-material be worn on the front and back of an individual, regardless of the time of day.

Motorcyclist must also wear clothing that contrasts with the environment, and BDU's do not contrast. If a rider were to wear a safety vest, this would not only give him the mandatory 24 square inches of reflective material, but also provide the rider a piece of clothing that contrasts with the environment.

One of the most important, and most controversial, requirements is that a rider must complete a rider's course, regardless of riding skill or experience.

"The convenient thing is that all levels of bike safety courses are taught at the base for no charge to the Airmen," said Sergeant Sturgeon.

As long as the Airman shows up to the class he will it is free, but if an Airman signs up for the class and doesn't show up, he will be charged the course fee.

"Although many people have been riding for a long time, they might not be riding properly. We just want to make sure these people have the correct experience to ride," said Sergeant Sturgeon.

The Basic Rider's Course may be substituted for the Expert Rider's Course, which is for those who already have their license endorsed but need a motorcycle safety course in order to ride.

"It would seem a little trivial for someone who has been riding for years to have go through the basic course and have instructors point out where the throttle is, that's why we offer two courses," Sergeant Sturgeon continued.

If one is properly prepared with the correct equipment and training, motorcycles can be a fun, safe experience for people of many ages.

For more information on the Basic Rider's Course or any other courses offered here, please contact your unit safety representative.