PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. - Motorcycles usually travel 40 to 50 miles per gallon of gasoline, noted Ramon Velasquez, of the Presidio of Monterey Garrison Safety Office, and when consumer prices at the gas pump rise, so does the popularity of motorized two-wheel transportation.

"When gasoline was at four dollars a gallon," said Velasquez, "more people at the Presidio than ever were showing an interest in motorcycles. That pertains to civilians and service members alike."

Economy aside, the universal appeal of motorcycling is understandable, Velasquez said.

"In one sense, it's the ultimate expression of freedom," he said. "It's riding in the wind without the cocoon of an automobile around you. Some say it's like what riding a horse must have been in the Old West days."

But in the automobile age, motorcycle safety is an inescapable concern. One survey reports that 15 percent of traffic accidents involve motorcycles.

"At the Presidio our safety guidelines are spelled out in the Command Policy on Motorcycle Safety Training and Motorcycle Registration," Velasquez said.

The policy applies to all service members and civilian employees who operate a motorcycle at the Presidio and Ord Military Community. The policy requires that motorcyclists:

Aca,!Ac Have a valid and current state motorcycle driver's license.

Aca,!Ac Show proof of insurance.

Aca,!Ac Comply with personal protective equipment requirements.

Aca,!Ac Complete an approved motorcycle safety course and provide proof of completion.

The Army Motorcycle Safety Training program is administered by the Presidio of Monterey Garrison. A Basic Rider Course and an Experienced Rider Course are offered.

The BRC is a two- or three-day program for beginners. A minimum of seven hours of classroom instruction prepares the student for at least eight hours of riding practice in a parking lot or other off-street setting. Students learn to operate a motorcycle and learn the skills necessary to deal with traffic. Students receive a course completion card after passing a knowledge test and skill evaluation.

The one-day ERC also consists of classroom instruction and riding. The objective is to build upon the skills acquired in the BRC.

A recent Safety Gram message from the Army's Installation Management Command addressed ways that drivers of other vehicles can contribute to traffic safety when sharing the road with motorcyclists. The IMCOM suggestions are:

Aca,!Ac Allow a motorcyclist the full lane width. Although it may seem as though there is enough room in a traffic lane for an automobile and a motorcycle, the motorcycle needs the full room to maneuver safely. Do not share the lane.

Aca,!Ac Always signal your intentions before changing lanes or merging with traffic. This allows the motorcyclist to anticipate traffic flow and find a safe lane position.

Aca,!Ac Remember that motorcyclists are often hidden in a vehicle's blind spot or missed in a quick look due to their smaller size. Always make a visual check for motorcycles by checking mirrors and blind spots before entering or leaving a lane of traffic and at intersections.

Aca,!Ac Don't be fooled by a flashing turn signal on a motorcycle. Motorcycle signals usually are not self-canceling and riders sometimes forget to turn them off. Wait to be sure the motorcycle is going to turn before you proceed.

Aca,!Ac Remember that road conditions which are minor annoyances to passenger vehicles pose major hazards to motorcyclists. Be aware that motorcyclists may need to change speed or adjust their position within a lane suddenly in reaction to road and traffic conditions such as potholes, gravel, wet or slippery surfaces, pavement seams, railroad crossings and grooved pavement.

Aca,!Ac Allow more following distance -- three or four seconds -- when following a motorcycle so the motorcyclist has enough time to maneuver or stop in an emergency. Don't tailgate. In dry conditions, motorcycles can stop more quickly than cars.

Aca,!Ac Two-wheeled vehicles can travel fast, so make sure you can safely pass a bike. Tap your horn lightly, but do not startle the rider. Allow plenty of space for the bike's wobbly course.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16