NEWS | Oct. 31, 2012

Motorcycle purchase expands capability of safety office

By Senior Airman William O'Brien Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

During the past two years, Joint Base Charleston motorcyclists have sustained two mishaps among the population of about 23,000 service members, a statistic starkly lower in contrast to the civilian population.

A large reason for this is the requirement that all riders take Motorcycle Safety Foundation or equivalent motorcycle safety courses. Four courses are available including the Basic Riders Course, Basic Rider Course 2, the Advance Rider Course and the Military Sport bike Riders Course.

To enhance these courses and open it up to service members who may not own a bike, but are thinking about buying one, Col. Richard McComb, Joint Base Charleston commander, recently approved the purchase of seven cruisers and seven sport bikes as well as various maintenance equipment totaling nearly $60,000. In addition, 20 helmets were donated to the safety office for use during these classes.

"We're trying to catch these folks and get them on the type of bike they may buy," said Chris Anderson, 628th Air Base Wing chief of safety. "That's why we purchased sport bikes and cruisers, it all depends on what the student plans on riding. We get them out here and show them the fundamentals of each type of motorcycle and brief them on the proper fit and what type and size is best for beginning riders before they buy one for themselves."

Another benefit to purchasing these bikes is the ease it allows those who have never ridden in the past to try riding a motorcycle without purchasing one. In the past, riders had to have their motorcycle brought to the class by somebody else or via trailer. It also left beginners with little to no mentorship on what type of motorcycle to buy.

"Military personnel are required to take the Basic Riders Course prior to riding a motorcycle," said Anderson. "If you've ridden for a few years and have never taken the course, you can take the BRC-2, ARC, or the MSRC. The BRC-2 is basically the same as the BRC, but you use your personal motorcycle. The ARC and MSRC provide skilled riders with more advanced riding techniques. Some services also require the MSRC for all personnel who operate a sports bike. We now offer all four courses to cover all riders assigned to Joint Base Charleston."

Each branch of service has their own required courses for motorcycle riders. The Department of Defense advocates three courses: the BRC for those with little to no experience, the advanced rider's course for those who may have been riding for a few years prior to joining the military and some branches of the military require a sports bike course for those who ride sports bikes.

"The first day is full of class work and you're learning the basics," said Senior Airman Alexandra Hoachlander, 1st Combat Camera Squadron photographer and self-described novice rider prior to taking the course. "The second day you become familiarized with the bikes and standard movements like starting, stopping, turning and quick stops. On the third day, you do some class work at the beginning of the day and take your final test in the afternoon."

In addition to the course where the basic rider's courseBRC is held, the safety office has negotiated coordinated with Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command to use a mile and a half closed-circuit course, which was formerly used as a federal law enforcement training track.

"When the property was given to SPAWAR we quickly developed a formal support agreement with them, as they utilize the track and adjacent property for their mission and we schedule around it," said Anderson. We will be using the SPAWAR track to conduct mentorship rides and street skills training. This training will be held at least quarterly and augment the courses we offer. At the mentorship sessions, we expand on the basics that the Motorcycle Safety Foundation uses and practice these skills at normal street riding speeds.

Anderson said he's pleased with what the motorcycle safety team has done to make this already effective program even more robust over the past year and believes that with the addition of these 14 new motorcycles, dedication of our volunteer rider coaches, and support provided by Green Knights Military Motorcycle Club, Chapter 37, they will be able to reach a new demographic and be able to train even more service members.

"There's been a lot of behind the scenes actions taken by safety staff in coordination with the 628th Contracting and Comptroller squadrons to get to this point," said Anderson.