Brig. Gen. Timothy J. Edens, director of Army Safety and commanding general, USACR/Safety Center, recently joined a group of new and returning riders here for the Motorcycle Safety Foundation's Basic RiderCourse.

Edens had ridden dirt bikes as a teenager, more than 30 years ago. But with his purchase of a Harley Davidson cruiser earlier this year, the Army considered Edens a new rider, the same as any other Soldier with no experience on a motorcycle.

For Edens, the training was more than a check-the-block Army requirement; he knew he needed BRC training to survive on the highway.

"I think it's absolutely essential to learn the proper way to ride a motorcycle," he said. "It's particularly important when you put that 'how to ride' against the threats out there on the road."

The BRC combines classroom training with practical skills taught on a specially designed course. From riding in a straight line where they master basic starting and stopping skills, riders move on to cornering skills and braking and swerving techniques for avoiding highway dangers.

The course helped Edens realize how vulnerable riders are, lacking the protection offered by an automobile's structure. That vulnerability is increased by drivers who miss motorcycles on the road or, when they do see them, are confused by their size. Being smaller than other vehicles on the road, motorcycles may appear further away or traveling more slowly than they really are.

Even with those hazards, the training eased Edens' concerns about returning to the road.

"I feel confident with the skills the BRC gave me," he said, adding he looks forward to fulfilling all levels of the Army's Progressive Motorcycle Program.

Among other requirements, the PMP mandates that Soldiers returning from a three-year or longer riding hiatus undergo sustainment training. In addition, riders who have not taken the progressive training courses prior to sustainment training must complete those steps first.

"It's all about upholding the standards," Edens said. "We're not trying to make riding difficult, we're simply giving Soldiers the best possible start to what should be an enjoyable and safe hobby.

"There is no reason for motorcycling to go underground when the Army offers its riders good training and sponsors peer experiences like the Motorcycle Mentorship Program."

Moreover, no Soldier -- regardless of rank -- is exempt from safety training.

"Even as a general officer, I'm no exception to the rule," he said. "It's up to leaders to set the standard. Current accidents show indiscipline doesn't discriminate by rank. Leaders at all levels must walk their talk concerning discipline and standards."

More information on the PMP may be found in Army Regulation 385-10. Additional information and resources on motorcycle safety and the Motorcycle Mentorship Program is available at https://safety.army.mil.

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Page last updated Tue November 13th, 2012 at 16:11