Motorcycle Awareness Month–same old, same old

And once again, too much of the coverage makes it appear it’s our fault. Here’s one story “CHP launches new safety campaign”that aired on the LA ABC station yesterday.

Though it’s supposedly about the CHP, it’s the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s views that dominates the clip and MSF’s Rob Gladden that does most of the talking—and expostulates MSF’s views:

For example, he says, “Because people who are either self-taught or taught by friends and family are over-represented in crash statistics year after year.” However, there’s absolutely no evidence that this is true—and abundant evidence that MSF’s brand of training isn’t effective and increases a rider’s risk of crashing.

The reporter brings up wearing protective gear at all times and then goes on to say, “Notice that these students in a safety class are covered head to toe. Warm weather might make a ride to the beach inviting but taking a spill in things like shorts and flip-flops could mean a painful trip to the ER.”

However, what students are required to wear in “safety classes” would do virtually no better at preventing that trip to the ER. Only over-the-ankle boots and full-fingered gloves would be better at preventing injuries than the long-sleeve shirt and long pants required for class and the shorts and t-shirt cited in the story.

That the reporter mentions “protective gear” and “safety classes” and shows what the students are wearing smakes it appear that clothes that would last less than a few seconds in a fall are both safe and protective–when they aren’t.

Otoh, one thing that year after year has been found to be true: over half of all riders die in multi-vehicle collisions and, in a preponderance of cases, it’s the driver and not the rider who is at-fault. But, as in other years, MSF gives short shrift to what drivers should do. The reporter says, “And since everyone needs to share the road safety experts have tips for drivers as well. This is all Gladden had to say about them, “If you’re startled by a motorcycle coming up upon you, chances are it’s been approaching for several seconds. So use those mirrors and pay attention to motorcycles, look for them,” said Gladden.

This almost all the CHP had to say about motorcycle awareness: the reporter says, “Nice weather in Southern California and motorcyclists on the road are almost a foregone conclusion, but crashes don’t have to be” and the shot cuts to CHP Commissioner Farrow, “They can be prevented. With proper equipment, proper training, and proper rules of the road, following those rules, I think we’ll be okay.”

It sounds far too much like it’s the motorcyclist’s fault if they aren’t ok.

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19 Comments on “Motorcycle Awareness Month–same old, same old”

  1. aidanspa Says:

    Another photo op, another press release, another opportunity to plant a seed in the public’s collective mind that MSF rider training is the answer. Who will question the veracity of Gladden’s statement that “Because people who are either self-taught or taught by friends and family are over-represented in crash statistics year after year.”? After all, he’s with the Motorcycle Safety Foundation! A reporter makes an idiotic statement about the gear students are wearing being representative of “full and proper gear”, and who’s going to question it?

    The MSF can only do so much. They provide the training every rider in this country needs, they have “Safety Tips” available in the MSF-USA.org Library, and they take every opportunity to remind the riding public of the good they do through numerous press releases and regular TV appearances.

    C’mon riders, get with the program.

  2. Jeff Brenton Says:

    Otoh, one thing that year after year has been found to be true: over half of all riders die in multi-vehicle collisions and, in a preponderance of cases, it’s the driver and not the rider who is at-fault.

    Overall, though, it is still more likely that a rider will die by their own actions than by the actions of others. Why? Because a third of all fatal crashes are single vehicle. Even if the remaining 2/3rds are 60% the fault of the car driver, (.60x.66) is less than ((.40x.66)+.33)!

    And what percentage of those crashes that were judged to be the fault of the car driver were contributed to by the rider’s actions? A rider might have the right of way, but… Their choice lane position or speed might make it difficult for other highway users to see them; Their choice of action might change a moment of irritation into a crash; Their choice of gear might change a painful crash into a fatal one; Their own inattention might have changed the outcome.

    Car drivers crash into other cars, trucks, big yellow school buses, trains, and other things that are much more visible than bikes. They’ve done it for decades. It’s not something riders can hope will be changed by a PSA or a bumper sticker slogan. Riders do have to start assuming responsibility for our own safety, even if we’re not “at fault”, if only because it is our choice to enter the combat zone known as “traffic” with less armor than the others on the battlefield.

  3. Macavite Says:

    “over half of all riders die in multi-vehicle collisions and, in a preponderance of cases, it’s the driver and not the rider who is at-fault.”

    Where are you getting this data from? It doesn’t seem to match up with our local data here in Oregon. Looking at the fatality numbers for the last couple years, most crashes were single vehicle events (over fifty percent), and in the multi-vehicle crashes (about thirty percent), it was still determined to be at least partially the motorcyclists fault about 2 out of 3 times.

    This puts the number of times that motorcyclists were killed by a car and the motorcyclist didn’t share fault in the teens in terms of percentages. This isn’t a preponderance. I quote the last couple years because those are the only years I’ve been exposed to the Team Oregon crash data.

    “Because people who are either self-taught or taught by friends and family are over-represented in crash statistics year after year”

    This does follow from our crash data. Looking at the last year, fatalities almost always belonged in one of three categories: riders who’d been drinking, unlicensed riders and untrained riders. Those three segments are very overrepresented.

    However, I totally agree with you on the gear item above. We emphasize in class that what we consider acceptable for training is not going to help you on the street, but for a controlled course and top speeds of about 20 mph, it is enough. The thought of riding down a freeway in a long tee shirt and jeans gives me the willies.

  4. wmoon Says:

    Macavite,
    Try NHTSA. It is different in Oregon, it’s true. Rarely does a state differ from the national norm–but you’re correct that Oregon has for years. This suggests that something is different about Oregon rather than the rest of the country year by year. If that changes across the nation, you might then have a point. However, experts estimate 20% or more of single vehicle crashes were precipitated by another vehicle (and the motorcyclist reacts to avoid collision and crashes).

    I hardly think it’s wise to extrapolate from your state to the entire nation, however.

    Are you lumping “drinking, unlicensed and untrained riders” into the same group? I would be cautious of that (for example, its possible to be trained and yet unlicensed–and it’s possible to be drunk but licensed and/or trained). Once again, most states do not determine whether a rider fatality has been trained–so it may be true to your state and untrue for the rest of the nation.

    And this also begs the question: no studies to date have shown that rider training is effective in reducing crashes–and only one found an effect for six months. Billheimer, btw, was the only one that looked as short as six months for an effect–and that study said the best purpose of rider ed was to convince people they weren’t meant to be on a bike. Many studies have now found that training increases the risk of a rider crashing.

    Oregon is also different from most of the country–and what MSF claims is true for the whole country–in another way. In Oregon, about 75% of those who are licensed do so through the course. It’s true in Texas, according to the TDPS, but MSF claims that most riders do not and have not taken training. If MSF is correct, than it could be that Gladden is correct simply because so few had gone through training rather than its effective.

    If this is not true in Oregon–it may be that TEAM Oregon’s course is more effective than MSF curriclum. However, until that’s shown in empirical studies the other 12 or so studies do not support Mr. Gladden’s remark and that’s what I have to go on–many studies done by different people over 25 years finding virtually the same conclusion. Though I can’t imagine Mr. Gladden would be happy to find himself beholden to Oregon’s data to make the points MSF wanted him to make.

    But once again, I would suggest that while your state may or may not be different (if your police are well-trained and do analyze crashes correctly, for example), its not wise to assume because your state is one way so follows the nation. For example, Oregon had about 120,000-122,000 fatalities and 46 deaths in 2008. But in Missouri with about the same number of registrations (124,000) it had 107 fatalities–or more than twice as many.
    W.

  5. wmoon Says:

    Jeff, your numbers are in error–and some you’re just pulling out of…somewhere. You’re making a lot of assumptions and speculations not based on knowledge of the studies and reports that have been done. You really do have the MSF mantra down pat.

    And it’s very insulting, imo, that you say “riders do have to start assuming responsiblity”. That strikes me as extremely arrogant and judgmental to say they have to start. Riders have been taking responsibility for their ride for more than a hundred years. It’s very MSF of you to assume that Motorcycle Awareness month should be almost exclusively directed at the rider and not at motorists when riders are very much aware of themselves.
    W.

  6. Bob Says:

    Coming from a self taught background (in OR, BTW) I can tell you that any rider will benefit from formal, objective training. If anyone is skewing numbers to facilitate their point of view…. I’ll fall all the way back the the Hurt Study. Formal Training is better (far better) than no training at all. Objective observation of technique will increase the speed that a rider will acquire improved performance.

    I know I became a better rider, due to the drills I learned in MSF in 1985. After having ridden in the dirt for ~ 10 years at that point, and on the street ofr around a year.

    I’m not trying to be arrogant saying that a rider can be dead right. Any impact involving collision speeds with an immobile object of 25 MPH or higher carries HUGE potential for injury to the rider. quite possibly fatal…. and the gear is not going to help all that much at impact speeds above that.

    Reduce abrasions, more than likely. That reduces infections; which increases survivability. Same thing with boots, gloves, etc etc.

    I try and avoid being aggressive while riding… simply because it gets to be a habit, and the situation on the steet is fluid enough that cutting corners is eventually going to catch up with just about everyone who swings a leg over a saddle.

    What someone chooses to do with the stark reality of their own responsibility for their survival is not my concern. Ignorance of the facts is no excuse.

    If you ride with enough space cushion, you can avoid emergency maneuvers to a very large degree. If you scan far enough in advance of your position, you can predict a larger percentage of other vehicle’s actions.

  7. wmoon Says:

    I’m not saying that a rider can’t improve from objective formal training. I’m glad I had training. As for Harry Hurt…well, Riderchick will have something about Harry in a day or so. What I am saying is that the studies–and there are about 12, iirc–don’t show a positive difference. While you have your personal experience–and no one can take that away or gainsay it–it’s your experience and that’s all. You might be able to say one study–even two or three–are flawed and skew numbers. Otoh, these were all people who WANTED to find that training made a difference BELIEVED it did, EXPECTED that’s what they would find. AND THEY DIDN’T.

    And you’re “dead” wrong on your understanding about at what speed injury will occur. In FACT severe injuries can occur at a standstill or at very low speeds including concussion and broken bones. Death can and does occur at 13mph and higher.

    You have been misled about gear as well (and note that I own several leather and heavy textile jackets and one with semi-hard armor and wear gear all the time and wear a helmet and not just because of a law). Broken bones are not really prevented by gear (with the possible exception of minor breaks from wearing over-the-ankle boots). You cannot say that reducing abrasions will automatically reduce infections or that infections will automatically occur with road rash. And infection is exceedingly rare as a reason that a rider doesn’t survive. Almost always it’s because of the number and severity of all the injuries–because it’s rare that riders who die days/weeks/month after a crash only had one. Usually there’s several severe broken bones at the very least–and the body coping with those injuries are far more likely to weaken it to allow infection.

    I’m glad that you try to avoid aggressive riding. What you are doing is good–but you are a blazing fool if you think that you’re safe on the road because of it.

    I don’t blame you for thinking as you do–the entire motorcycle community is desperate to believe that the fatality equation is solved by simple and inadequate things. Riders seem to universally think that THEY’RE making good choices. THEY’RE the ones that are taking responsibilty and all those other folks aren’t.

    But I really cannot understand how three people seem to object to me pointing out that other road users are the ones who need just as much as riders to be aware and riders and nonriders should not be misled by inaccurate information.

    And three of you all had varieties of wildly inaccurate information or make assumptions that are simply wrong. And that’s very troubling…

  8. Jeff Brenton Says:

    MSF Mantra? Gee, some of it looked suspiciously like WiDOT mantra to me… 😉

    The wonderful thing about statistics is that it is always possible to find some that can be interpreted to support your position. I’ve been using this set:

    http://www.dot.wisconsin.gov/safety/motorist/crashfacts/docs/crashfacts.pdf

    The above is a summary of 2007 stats for Wisconsin. Included, starting on page 76 of the PDF (68 of the printed copy) are statistics on the motorcycle crashes in Wisconsin. No, it’s not a detailed analysis of each crash, but there are some interesting numbers in it. Of 102 fatal crashes, 72 had Possible Contributing Circumstances attributed to the rider. Failure to yield Right of Way, which covers all the left-turning cars out there that we’re so scared of, was cited in 19 crashes… but 3 of those were the motorcyclist’s failure to yield, not the car driver’s. More riders died due to failure to control their motorcycle than by a car violating their R-o-W.

    Of 2,788 total crashes, 1,679 of them involved no other vehicle directly (didn’t hit someone else). There is no statistic on whether another vehicle might have contributed to the crash by forcing the motorcycle to take actions that lead to the crash, though.

    Alcohol was a factor in 57% of fatal single-vehicle crashes.

    My main contention is that we, as riders, are our own worst enemies when it comes to crashing and dying. Yes, getting those in 4+ wheel vehicles to see, perceive, and avoid hitting us is a good goal, but we have a lot of work to do on our own side of the house, too.

  9. Bob Says:

    The best piece of safety gear any rider owns…. and by far the most effective is their brain. All other gear is a pale addition to riding defensively.

    I do support the notion that giving a rider more tools to work with is in some small way going to increase their capability to cope with real world riding situations. Don’t really care if statistics bear that out… I know subjectively and anecdotaly that this is true enough for me to act on it.

    I honestly don’t think there is a panecea that will make riding ‘safe’… the best you could do would be to isolate two wheeled vehicles from anything larger. The only place that will happen is on a track.

    Given the limited sightlines of most motor vehicles, and the even more limited training of the vast majority of drivers…. it is inevitible that unfavorable interaction occurs. Cell phones, drunk drivers, impaired by whatever means…. everyone is at higher risk.

    End result of that is riders, with less protection(human crumple zones)are at higher risk. Proactive involvement is the only realistic offset to the increased risk of injury.

    Not knowing your background, I chose a higher, less dramatic number for speed with leathal consequence. Blunt force trauma leading to death can of course be lower.

    No one has mislead me concerning my choices in riding gear. Having started riding in 1972, I’ve seen significant improvement in what is available — but it still does almost nothing to protect the rider in the event of a serious accident. Except give someone who has spent $1K or more a false sense of security. Back to the brain as the most important safety device……

    I find it somewhat disturbing that we’re trying to assign blame for something that is not going to change as a result of that assertation.

    What is your solution? Blame drivers? Ad campaigns that paint riders as altruistic tree huggers?

  10. wmoon Says:

    I’ve been saying many of the things you’ve said for years and years now. You’re coming to the dance very late. What I find curious is that you are so het up over an entry that points out how riders and non-riders are being misled and that it gave short shrift to a huge element in rider safety–other road users and what they need to know and can do to improve road safety–and, in particular, ours. Why would that threaten you so much?

  11. wmoon Says:

    MSF’s mantra IS the WIDOT mantra–MSF has sold all the DOTs on its self-serving view of motorcycle safety–as it has the motorcycling community. You make the same error as the fellow from Oregon by trying to base your case on one state. I’m looking at overall national stats over more than ten years. You are also assuming that police reports have no bias–something that Hurt found not to be true and was one of the primary motivations for his study in the first place and how police report should be studied.

    What disturbs me about you and the others is how much effort you three need to make to try to pin all the blame on riders–why is that? What is so wrong about me pointing out that MSF itself puts out bad–and dangerous–information that increases our risks as riders and to point out that much more needs to be done to address the other 97% of road users?

    I have stressed for five years that riders have a lot to do on their own side of the house but there’s a lot to be done–and Motorcycle Awareness month is a good time to do it–to address the other side of the equation as well.

    And I should point out that you fall into another common error: You state loss-of-control as if it’s significant in comparison to ROWV and something unique to motorcyclists. In fact the car driver profile is almost identical to motorcyclists. They have almost the same stats in terms of single-vehicle crashes v. multi ones, they also go out of control and particularly on bends, etc. etc. Imo, it’s arrogant, myopic and teleopathic to buy so much into “rider responsibilty” that it endangers riders in the pursuit of helping them.
    W.

  12. Bob Says:

    I came to this dance sometime in the very early 80’s…. ‘het up’. Interesting choice of verbiage. I’ve crashed in no gear… moved on to wearing gear. I’ve crashed with no formal training; moved on to crashing having had formal training. 🙂 I’ve got North of 100K miles of street riding at this point, in a very wide range of conditions, both weather related, and traffic density.

    I find it interesting that your point seems to be to imply that training is ineffective. At least in it’s present form. I don’t really care who provides the skills improvement per se’, merely that it’s available and affordable. I would like to hear your view on what can be done to improve said training……

    One thing I can tell you is that drivers are no more aware of riders today, than they were then. This goes back into the 70’s by my observation. At least in the US. I assume the same is true in Europe; I’ve been following the work of the AECM for a number of years now, and don’t see a huge difference in what is being presented there. I’ve also spent some time looking at the FARS data

    http://www-fars.nhtsa.dot.gov/Vehicles/VehiclesMotorcycles.aspx

    which allows you to sort fatality data by vehicle type, and many subjective conditions which may or may not give realistic conclusions…. but it’s a source of data.

  13. wmoon Says:

    Wrong dance, my friend. So you’re one who only learns by mistakes ; ) Good to know.

    I’m not implying that training is ineffective, I’m telling you that at least 12 studies have found that it is. I’m telling all who will listen that MSF’s training has become deadly on the range and there’s evidence that BRC students, in particular, are at even higher risk than students trained under prior iterations of MSF currriculum. I’m telling telling all who will listen that MSF only deals with one side of the equation–their products that have a demonstrated effect of selling more motorcycles produced by MSF’s funders and trustees. What government and motorcyclists have done, when it comes to MSF, is akin to letting the old Phillip Morris corporation decide the linkage between cancer and smoking and set the rules for safe smoking.

    The question is whether it really is improving skills and if the right skills are being improved. To say you don’t care is like saying, “I don’t care if this apple is full of lethal poison, all I care about is that it’s available and affordable” and then give the apple to a loved one.

    I’ve been writing for years about what has to be done to improve training. Unfortunately, the Journalspace site was wiped out. I am rewriting material as I have time.

    And that drivers are no more aware today than before I once again point to the failure MSF to deal with the side other road user equation. Of course, that’s not the side that buys their products–so what’s the return on that? To see that the return would be huge means to get out of the pennies-per-share, quarterly growth Harvard MBA mentality–and they are too teleopatholoical to do that.

    ACEM, btw, is just the European version of the MIC–and the same motorcycle manufacturers control that as do MSF–and they’re same manufacturers that made the devil’s deal with the current accident causation study that’s stalled out here.

    I’ve been using FARS for years, but thanks for mentioning it.

  14. gymnast Says:

    A thought that comes to mind related to this discussion is that very few persons other than pursuit trained police officers and persons who are accomplished racers are even vaguely familiar with the limits of control of their vehicles. A second thought is that the training programs (both driver education as well as motorcycle rider training) that do exist seldom get beyond the introductory basics of guiding the vehicle and not beyond.

    A racer learns the limits of control through probing and exceeding the limits under controlled conditions in a controlled environment. Track days, allow a rider to probe the limits, however it is rare that the rider at a track day exceeds the limits and all too often the newly acquired skills are used by some riders in “squidly” ways when they return to the public roads.

    Having taught evasive and pursuit driving, I wondered how some of the important lessons regarding learning the physic and limits of vehicle control could be transferred to or incorporated in “beginner courses” My conclusion was generally that they would be wasted on the young drivers that participated in driver education courses do to their lack of experience in the actual driving environment.

    A further observation, is that the effects of various behavioral approaches to the affective realm of driver performance combined with skills training is a subject that is largely ignored among those concerned with the task or training vehicle operators of all types.

    The statistics of crashes are a “scorecard”, and if one is going to to attempt to influence the scorecard various methods of training the players need to be explored.

    Just some thoughts.

  15. Bob Says:

    Trial and error are the most efective learning tools… there’s more truth involved, from my perspective. Done the book learning methods as well.

    I’m a bit agog at the link you make between MSF as an institution and some specific list of MC manufacturers….My (agreed, limited) perception was that all MC mfgs are in that grouping. Can you quote the numbers you are basing that on? Volume of sales of specific brands as a direct increase due to funding MSF? How do you eliminate any other conditions that affect that? I quite distincly remember the boom/bust in the early 80’s… you could buy brand new 1982 motorcycles as late as 1988 due to the overload.

    As far as training being ineffective, I’d really like to see/review the studies you’re citing. What baseline are these conducted against?

    I’m looking forward to your recommeded changes to said training.

    My perspective comes from when nothing in the form of training was available… yours seems to come from viewing it as a given, with room for improvement. We’re not in disagreement. Just different in perspective.

    Zero training is still in effect for the majority of riders. (AFAIK) I’ve heard it stated a number of times in the past 30 years that alcohol, liscensing, and speed to fast for conditions are the principal factors involved in accidents. Slow down. Don’t drink. Don’t ride with your head planted where the sun don’t shine…… don’t ride angry….

    You seem to be stating this is not the case.

    To return to the original posit or your blog…. this is in fact a fairly ‘fluffy’ useless PSA spot. In my view, it’s better than nothing at all. How would you improve the delivery? Why ae we not seeing the same style of PSA spots that are viewed in Europe, and Canada?

    Screaming at drivers that they need to be more aware of riders is less effective than training the riders. Dollar for dollar, I have to think the return on investment is not in advertising to an audience that doesn’t give enough of a rip in the first place.

    You are corect, it’s not in anyone’s best interest to have the industry police itself… but who is appropriate to ‘watch the watchers?’

  16. wmoon Says:

    Bob, AKAIK is right–you don’t know a great deal about training, the MSF and MIC. Many of your questions are answered in other entries, and I suggest you read back before questioning me further.

    As to training’s effectiveness, since you are such a fan of FARS–and thus NHTSA–try starting with http://www.nhtsa.gov/staticfiles/DOT/NHTSA/Traffic%20Injury%20Control/Articles/Associated%20Files/HS810891.pdf The Billheimer study is available through the SMSA website–that will get you started.

    If you knew your own state, you’d know that over 75% of riders get their licenses through taking the test. TX claims that 86% do, for example. MSF claims that almost 4.6 million have been trained and NHTSA has 6.7 million registered motorcycles. MIC estimates 1.5 motorcycles per owner. MSF claims that most motorcyclists aren’t trained–but there’s no evidence to either support that or refute that unless all states do the comparisons. And, btw, in the very few states (such as Idaho and Florida and Ohio) that tallied dead riders against their training records NONE have looked beyond whether the rider was trained in their state and so how many riders appear to be untrained but had actually been trained in another state is unknown.

    And yes, I can pull up the sources that show that MIC and MSF are well aware of the link between sales and training but I have six scripts to read today and tomorrow and will get to it at some point. If you’re that curious, try Googling Harley-Davidson business school studies. there used to be one of those on-line that had H-D’s stats but that was based on several years ago. Or call up MSF and ask to see the report from the student focus group done by Al Hydeman as the BRC was in development. It’s abundantly clear there.

    If your perspective was from when nothing was available, you must be talking about prior to 1905, iirc, as there were already motorcycle training books published–including a Boy Scout one that was published, iirc, somewhere in the teens of the 1900s. Courses have been offered since 1935 in England and civilian ones starting in the 1950s. In Canada training was going on in the 1950s as well. Montgomery Ward was even training before MSF. At the time MSF began there were over 30 curriculums, handbooks, guides, etc. available. MSF ripped off material from them and cobbled together its own. That’s not opinion, it’s fact and it can be amply proven–which is in large part why MSF had to settle with Oregon.

    MSF is adamantly against the kind of PSAs done in the UK, Australia, etc. It is very much against showing that motorcycling can be violently dangerous and gruesome. I have the notes from the SMSA meeting where Tim Buche took the organization to task on that issue.

    Who said anything about screaming at drivers? Does Think Bike scream at drivers? You are a very strange man who knows very little about the subject. I suggest you learn a lot more and make and effort to get out of the MSF box in order to see how much its influenced your views. Try looking on your own on-line about what training is like in Germany, Sweden, Norway, Canada and the UK. Look at the EU motorcycle test–or even at the old one that beginning riders had to pass in the UK. No novice MSF graduate could’ve even done the old test. Hell, MSF instructors would fail it when they went to get their licenses overseas.

    Do some research, read old entries on this site about what MSF really is–and then come back and let’s talk. You can always IM me on AOL. My screenname is WMoonwriter.
    W.

  17. Bob Says:

    I’ve spent a few hours going through your old(er) posts concerning the MSF/MIC et al…. interesting reading; and an area I was (and to a large degree still am) quite ignorant of. Please accept my apology, if you think it’s needed.

    The reason for my blissful ignorance has been my favorable experiences with MSF based schooling, which in retrospect is almost completely free of MSF interaction….. at least since 1985.

    As I said, I decided to attend formal training, when I low sided my V65 Sabre in ~1985, in Alameda, CA. Labor day weekend, the only reason I didn’t die, or kill my passenger was the lack of cars parked along the curb. 52K on that bike, in about 4 years, between there and San Diego. Sold that one when my son was born, and hung up the gear until he was 12. The next bike was a Suzuki Marauder, low slung, underpowered cruiser… figured it would keep me out of trouble…. 43K on that one, through the nastiest part of Seattle area traffic, in about 2 years.

    I attended the MSF cirriculum as instructed at that time, on NAS ALameda, under the instruction of a gentleman named Felix Mejia. I still have the completion card. The course at that time was one day in the class room, one day on the range, and involved the use of your own bike. The box, the figure 8, riding over a 4X4, swerves, max braking. I have assumed for the past 25 years that the essential portions of this training had not been modified out of recognition….. I suspect the fundamentals are still in place, but I will have to read further to establish that.

    I now ride a Yamaha FZ6. 27K to date. One serious crash, 3 broken ribs and a class 1 seperation of my shoulder. After I healed and repaired the bike, I chose to attend the ARC course through Team Oregon, on a local go kart track…. again, on my own motorcycle. One day course, the ratio of instructors to students was very nearly 1:1.

    I even lapped that track as a passenger on the back of the lead instructor’s ST1300….. just to get away from the cruisers that were dragging metal in every corner, and were scared to death to drag anything. Lots of riders going wide of turns out of that fear.

    Those two moments in time have formed the basis of my belief in training as a tool to reduce injury to riders. You are providing much more detail to the picture, and I thank you for your patience.

  18. wmoon Says:

    Bob, I think you mean Advanced Rider Training (ART) through Team Oregon. It’s a fantastic course–and one that MSF has yet to adequately rip off.

    A couple other excellent courses (but not for newbies) are Lee Park’s Total Control and Streetmasters.

    TEAM Oregon’s Basic Rider Training should not be put on a par with MSF’s BRC either–though, honestly, I doubt very much if graduates from that course could pass the EU motorcycle test either.
    W.

  19. Bob Says:

    ART…. it’s been a few years. 🙂 Thanks for setting me staight. Good course.

    Would have been more fun with the option of segregating the bikes with ground clearance from the lower slung vehicles. I can see a track day somewhere in my far future. Lots of logistics to deal with before that point.

    I can potentially sweet talk the missus into another advanced course; I’ll take a look at Lee Park’s offerings… ahdn’t heard of Streetmasters. More research is due.

    Having spent a few years conversing with riders in the EU, Australia, and NZ…. the concept of one course to cure all ills is ludicrous. Tiered liscencing is not a panecea either… just lowers the potential terminal speeds somewhat. Stupid is as stupid does. I like the portion of most (make that a select few) country’s road tests, where the operator is followed in real world conditions by an evaluator on public roads.

    I’m not familiar with what the MSF, or Rider’s edge lowest level courses offer. I have assumed the cirriculum was similar to what I went through in 1985, except with smaller school offered displacement bikes in use.

    Hearsay had that pegged at 125 and 250cc for MSF programs, and 500cc Buell Blasts in the R.E program.

    I can of course understand the inherent dangers of inadequate run off space; particularly with neophyte operators. Almost seems like the most fundamental course should be taught with CVT scooters, so the beginners can get some experience with riding mechanics isolated from clutch/throttle excercises.

    As I understood it, the reason the thumb throttle was developed for ATVs (same as Skimobiles) was due to the self cancelling nature in a ‘runaway’ condition. Why isn’t that implemented on school bikes?

    What is the commonplace ratio of instructors to students, in most programs?


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