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Soldiers learn cycling safety


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POSTED: Thursday, August 20, 2009

About 250 soldiers are participating in a supplemental motorcycle training program instituted because there have been 16 Army cycle fatalities since 2005.

“;Many of them were killed soon after returning from combat,”; said Bill Maxwell, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii transportation safety manager. “;They survived the combat, came back, and — within two months — died on a motorcycle. We want to reverse that trend by providing them every bit of education that we possibly can.”;

Maxwell said the Army pilot program was adopted from the Marines after it was found that “;they have been having some positive results.”; He explained that the free program is essential for motorcycle riders in light of the high number of Army motorcycle deaths.

One possible reason for the fatalities is the “;aggressive soldier mind-set”; that some may have, Maxwell said.

“;We prepare them for combat, they go into a very high-stress situation, and they come back here,”; Maxwell explained. “;Motorcycles are a great tool to release adrenaline. Unfortunately, we have quite a bad history with motorcycles.”;

The Honolulu Police Department reported that 12 of the 38 traffic fatalities this year involved motorcycles. Riders were wearing helmets in only six cases.

;[Preview]    Schofield offers motorcycle safety training
  ;[Preview]
 

A rider's view of the Army's motorcycle training at Schofield Barracks.

Watch ]

 

For a soldier to operate a bike on military installations, he or she must go through a basic and experienced rider course offered through the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. However, Maxwell said that these courses “;provide the basic skills”; and are “;limited in size.”;

“;What we wanted to do here is expand the area and bring the speed up to get them a little bit closer to the operational speeds that they encounter out there on the road,”; Maxwell said.

The training program, which began Monday at Wheeler Army Airfield, covers eight half-day courses that allow smaller groups of about 25 people.

The Los Angeles-based California Superbike School said the course is meant to boost a rider's confidence with conditions that they may experience on the road.

“;If the rider is unsure of himself, he's going to panic,”; said California Superbike School instructor and project manager Dylan Code. “;What we want to make is a confident rider at this point.”;

Each course included 30 minutes of classroom instruction before riders were taken out on an obstacle course. It was on the obstacle course that the real instruction began, where instructors — stationed at three checkpoints on various corners of the course — corrected mistakes that a rider made.

Many of the soldiers who attended the motorcycle training course left believing that they were more informed.

“;The fundamentals that I learn here can be something that I can use out there on the streets,”; said Cpl. Tyler Bridgeman, who has been riding about seven years. “;This is one of the best courses that I have been to.”;

“;I left with a little bit more knowledge, but the knowledge that I left with was extremely important,”; said Lt. Col. Rob Howe, who has been riding for 28 years. “;I don't know what I don't know, but they told me what I needed to know.”;