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Discussion Starter #1
There was a bit of a discussion going recently in a welcome back thread regarding the military and motorcycles, so I thought I would put up this NPR article: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=102990179&ft=1&f=1001

All Things Considered, April 11, 2009 · A spike in motorcycle deaths among service members is prompting a call to arms from the military.

In 2008, more service members died in motorcycle crashes than ever before — 126 from all four services. The Army saw a 24 percent increase in fatalities, and both the Marines and the Navy report significant increases as well. Top safety chiefs across the military have identified motorcycles as the No. 1 safety concern off the battlefield.

To combat the trend, the military has expanded motorcycle safety classes and started a pilot project hosting "Track Day" events on many bases. The events are an opportunity for military personnel to drive fast in a safe environment and to learn the limitations of their vehicles.

Literally Testing Riders' Limits

On a recent Track Day at the Marine Corps Base Hawaii on the island of Oahu, orange traffic cones trace a makeshift street course on the flight tarmac. Groups of brightly colored Japanese street racing bikes maneuver the course at speeds of up to 90 mph. Hawaii is home to some 40,000 military personnel, and five of them were killed in motorcycle accidents last year.

Safety specialist Mario Diprete says the course lets riders literally test their limits. "Out here is the time to run hot and wide into a turn and feel how uncomfortable it makes you," he says. "And you learn from it and you don't do it again — or you learn how to recover from it."

Instructors stand in the middle of the tarmac, pulling riders over, giving them quick advice and sending them back onto the course. Without guard rails, utility poles, parked cars or curbs on the course, riders have a much better chance of surviving the lesson.

Navy sailor Chris Yates has been on motorcycles most of his life. After speeding around the track, he says he loves the experience.

"It's just need for speed," he says. "I've got a wife and don't want to go out and get a ticket on the road, so might as well do it out here."

Rear Adm. James Johnson of the Naval Safety Center in Norfolk, Va., says speed was a factor in the vast majority of crashes that killed service members last year. Johnson says motorcycle experts tell him if you want to slow riders down on the highways, put them on a racetrack.

"When a rider finds himself humbled in such a pristine riding environment, he's much less wiling to take those chances in the unknown riding environments of our national roadway system," Johnson says.

Risk-Taking Part Of The Job

Longtime rider Maj. Nicholas Morris says part of the problem is that service members often have little riding experience and plenty of disposable income. "It's a recipe for disaster," he explains, "because your margin of error is small on a motorcycle."

Morris adds Marines tend to be type-A personalities who aren't afraid to use a piece of dangerous equipment. He prefers Harleys to the tiny Japanese racing bikes. He says he hasn't yet grown up enough to not ride the bikes the way they were meant to be ridden — fast.

Army Sgt. 1st Class John Thomas, whose trying out the course at the Marine Corps Base Hawaii, may be exactly the kind of type-A personality Morris is taking about. He's well aware of the risks — some of his fellow soldiers have died on the road — but says, "It's just the nature of the beast."

"Just like soldiers — we get killed in combat. Motorcycle riders die on the road," he says. "It's a hazard of your occupation."

Military safety officers are keeping a close eye on how service members respond to Track Days. They're concerned the experiment could backfire and actually encourage would-be speeders to push their limits even more. If they see a spike in crashes afterward, this experiment is over.
I'd certainly be interested in a track day taking place out on the flight line here, and it seems like a good idea to try at least. Other thoughts?
 

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I am stationed at Pope and the other day I was talking to a buddy of mine who has been here a lot longer than me. He said one time they shut the flight line down and had somewhat of a track day here. They let all the motorcycles drag the flight line. I think it is a great idea. It lets people test the limit of their bikes somewhat safely and lets them get the lead out. I am a very safe rider (family man) but every now and then I what to let loose and see what my SV has.

The military makes us go through many saftey courses (the Air Force has a separate one for sportbikes alone), which I feel is a good thing. Also I feel this would be benefical to the saftey program and a reward for the service member with the motorcycle as well. It could turn into a big rally on base. ;D
 

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someone should persuade the canadian forces to do this. there's a base 45 min from my house and they could charge an admission fee for the public. man would i live to have a few pics of my bike by the hangars!
 

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You should bring it up through your government, I was stationed in Japan about 4 years ago, and they would shut the flight line down for three days, have an air show, food and beer tents, and japanese car shows with models. And they would alow the locals to come on the base for it (pass through security first) it was good money for the pass and a great weekend for the public.
 

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The military makes us go through many saftey courses (the Air Force has a separate one for sportbikes alone)
The Navy has the same thing.

There was an article in the Navy Times a few weeks back where all of the services are getting together to see what could be done to limit the rising number of deaths. There was some talk of track days and one set of rules across the board for the DoD. Right now each branch has its own set of rules. Where I live I frequent Navy, AF, and Army bases. There is a Coast Guard station, but I haven't been there. Each of them have different requirements to get on base, which is just silly.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
^^^ +1, the same rules across the board would be nice/convenient in a lot of places.

Out of curiousity, has anybody had a commander/supervisor that rides? I can't say that I blame them, but my last two commanders (and I assume most) don't like motorcycles because of the increased safety risk to their troops.
 

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Even within the Navy there are different rules on different bases, i just came from Lejeune where all you needed was MSF and an endorsement. In naples we have to take BRC/ERC/sport rider course once per year (any one of them, not all).
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Same with the AF. I never took my bike on base at McChord, but you just needed proof of completing an MSF course with you. On Sheppard, you need a Sheppard Safety Card that the motorcycle safety monitors in each squadron/wing give out after showing proof of MSF completion. That card also requires a handful of signatures and singing off by the base wide motorycle safety head (a civilian).
 

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Even within the Navy there are different rules on different bases, i just came from Lejeune where all you needed was MSF and an endorsement. In naples we have to take BRC/ERC/sport rider course once per year (any one of them, not all).
That has all changed in the past year. You are now required to obviously have your MSF card, which you get once you take the BRC. You are also now required to take either the ERC or sportbike course depending on which type of bike you ride.

Each base commander is authorized to add to the minimum requirements to be granted access to their base. The old addage of "you can always add to, but never take away from" applies.

I suggest you take a gander at the latest OPNAV 5100.2H since you see to be out of the loop on the latest changes. There have also been a few ALNAV's on the subject.

http://doni.daps.dla.mil/Directives/05000 General Management Security and Safety Services/05-100 Safety and Occupational Health Services/5100.12H CH-1.pdf
 

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I think it is a great idea. There are a lot of great things going on for motorcyclists. Unfortunatley, if your base commander is not a rider, a lot of time they don't understand. I am right by Sturgis and we had a ride last year. We asked the base commander for authorization to ride without helmets in a parade to sturgis (in a controlled enviroment, and only going 40mph) but it was a no go because he was VERY against all riding. I hope they do have more track days around the military.
 

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here's my digg post:

The military is retarded. I used to be in the Marines and you wouldn't believe the hoops I had to jump through to ride my own motorcycle. I already had a motorcycle license (no MSF card) and when I transferred to my new base after being overseas I wasn't even allowed to ride MY OWN motorcycle that I had before I got there. My boss wouldn't even let me take the course so I could ride my motorcycle, I eventually just asked someone else and finally got to take it. I had to wait 1.5 months and miss multiple MSF courses before I jumped my chain of command.

So many Marines probably don't even try to do it the right way because their leadership is so **** rude. If you had a choice between just keeping your motorcycle off-base and never dealing with military rules or going through a million hoops with ****** leadership, I know what most people would do.

I always wore my gear and it saved me one time. But, for the military to act like it cares is complete crap. I guarantee that 95% of units won't let their people go to this track stuff. They'll all get the same BS line from their leadership, but hey, the Navy has this program so that means every sport biker gets to go right???!!! BS. Maybe other units are different but my unit never cared and actively tried to make it so you couldn't even use your own money how you wanted. This was 2005 btw, before all this even became a big deal. Camp Pendleton too.
That was kind of a rant, but it was really horrible when I transferred. My bike just sat there for over a month and I couldn't ride "legally" according to the Marines. I would have loved to have done a "track day" on the flight line, but I know my unit/leadership would have never allowed me to do that. Which is silly, since I learned more on my first track day then I did in 3 years of canyon riding.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Not that I necessarily agree with this statement fully, but I pose this as sort of a devil's advocate argument:

but it was a no go because he was VERY against all riding.
It could be that (and likely is), so he is against riding as a commander because it leads to troop's getting hurt or dying (not a good thing) and doesn't want to have to make that phonecall home to parents/family that a son/daughter has died. The devil's advocate part could be that the DOD, or each service, or each commander has to do what he/she feels necessary to protect the image of the military.
What I mean is that military sponsorship of a helmentless ride, or a sponsored ride to Sturgis (haven't been, probably won't go, but it does have it's reputation) might project the wrong image.

That was kind of a rant, but it was really horrible when I transferred. My bike just sat there for over a month and I couldn't ride "legally" according to the Marines. I would have loved to have done a "track day" on the flight line, but I know my unit/leadership would have never allowed me to do that. Which is silly, since I learned more on my first track day then I did in 3 years of canyon riding.
That sucks, and I'm not saying it's the right way, but I could see what happened to you as an attempt by the Navy/Marines to limit it a dangerous activity by means that will push riders off base and probably push some to do stupid (squidly) stuff. I hope that the approach suggested by the NPR article is considered, since I think a balanced emphasis on education and safe riding without too much red tape is probably a pretty good solution.
 

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+1 I think it's good. When I started working on base (Ventura County) it was a bit of a pain, but I got the opportunity to take the Military Sportbike Rider Course for free (on a workday, so in a sense I got paid to take it). I thought it was a great course and I am glad I was required to do it. It made me much more comfortable on the new, larger bike.
 

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I know that Lee Parks is doing a Total Control Advanced Riding Clinic levels 1 and 2 for 400 Marines. If that goes well, the are rolling the classes out to thousands of Marines.

I hear that Freddie Spencer is also going to be training military motorcyclists as well.

I'm glad they're doing this, at least. Hopefully the courses and track days will go very well and more things like this will be offered to those in service.
 

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In 2008, more Marines were killed in the US on their motorcycles, than were killed in Iraq.

Ride safe, service members.

And Thank You for serving.
 

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yeah after my battle buddy died on his gsxr, my Battalion Commander told me not to ride until after i took the installation motorcycle safety course... I stlill have the card, but nobody could keep me from riding.
 

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no offense but the meaning gets lost after sooo many classes just in the last 3 weeks I received 14 suicide briefs. I had to take a refresher bike class when I got stateside again. I been riding 15 years (legally) and they treat me like Im a drug addict. The sport class isnt mandatory here but I did have fun in it.
 
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