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NEWS | April 8, 2014

Langley celebrates third annual Motorcycle Safety Day

By Airman 1st Class Devin Scott Michaels 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

With spring beginning motorcyclists are pulling off their tarps, jumping on their bikes and hitting the road.

Airmen from the 497th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group participated in the third Annual Motorcycle Safety Awareness Day April 2, and got ready for the riding season by having some fun and reviewing the rules and regulations of motorcycle safety.

"Instead of just getting all the riders together for a ten-minute safety briefing and telling them how to practice safe motorcycle habits, we actually host a big event and try to make it as fun as possible," said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Benjamin, 497th ISR Group imagery mission supervisor, "Since many riders have had their bikes in their garages for several months, this event will get them back into a safe mind frame for riding again."

According to Air Force Instruction 91-207, Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, commanders and functional managers below the wing-level must ensure motorcycle riders attend an annual pre-season motorcycle riders' briefing.

"It will help Airmen follow the rules, wear their personal protective equipment and enforce good riding habits to minimize the number of accidents that occur," said Benjamin.

Col. Donna O'Harren, 497th ISR Group commander, and Master Sgt. Jason Scott, 497th ISR Group chief of safety, kicked off the event with a safety briefing, followed by some games.

One of the games challenged the motorcyclists' stability. A thin wooden plank was laid on the ground and riders were challenged to ride in a straight line along the entire plank.

After the games proud owners showcased their rides in a motorcycle show, giving spectators the chance to vote on their favorite cruiser, standard and sport bike while enjoying burgers from the "Burger-Burn".

The Mentorship-Ride to the Jamestown Settlement and back introduced the application of motorcycle etiquette and road safety to new riders and helped them develop camaraderie with more experienced riders.

"The farthest we'd ride without stopping is ten to fifteen miles and then we'd stop and talk and continue riding again," said Benjamin. "A smart start for new riders is to take it slow, not go beyond their limits and find a mentor. Even experienced riders who get on their bikes after having not ridden for months should take it step-by-step."

Benjamin encouraged interested, unlicensed Airmen to contact their squadron's motorcycle safety representative to enroll in safety courses and get qualified to ride. According to Benjamin, they have the knowledge and contacts to find mentors and classes. The Basic Riding Course is a weekend course at Thomas Nelson Community College and bikes are supplied for those who do not have one. The course costs $135, but is reimbursable by the Base Safety Office. The second course is at Fort Eustis at no cost, but with personally owned bikes, gear and gasoline.

To learn more about getting a motorcycle license, contact your squadron's motorcycle safety representative or the Langley AFB Ground Safety Office at 764-5058.