Thursday, July 30, 2009

Skills Practice and Where to do it.

I've been talking to a lot of bikers and safety experts lately. In a conversation with MSF's Vicky Cunningham, she suggested that training, without regular skills practice is almost a waste. And I am totally in agreement. If defensive riding doesn't pan out, and you need to do an emergency stop or swerve, if you haven't been practicing, you'll freeze up or severely underperform. A course you took 18 months ago will avail you not, without practice.

I'm thinking that it would be cool for bikers to have a place to go and practice riding skills. A city owned employee parking lot, for example, that isn't used at the weekend. All the city would have to do is have someone blow it out with a leaf blower on Friday afternoons, to remove excess gravel, and place a barrier, like a construction barrel, in the entrance, to keep cages out but let motorcycles in.

Bikers, riding club chapters etc could get together and practice riding skills. There would be no liability to the city, as motorcycles can enter parking lots anytime, and the practice wouldn't need to be organized by the city. The payoff would be potentially large - a single serious bike injury in Memphis, my home town, with a biker having no health insurance, might cost hundreds of thousands for an extended stay at the MED, our city-supported local trauma center.

As regards skills practice instructions, a copy of Jerry Palladino's 'Ride like a Pro' (reviewed here), or even the free practice guide from his website would be all that's needed. And here's our page on skills practice.

Anyone out there got any ideas? If you know a good place to practice bike skills, spread the word, gather some buddies and have some fun on your bikes practicing the what you learned in basic and experienced rider training.

And the next time local candidates come around asking for your vote, remind them that bikers vote too.

Our city has a skateboard park, ball fields, golf courses, a rollerblade trail and all sorts of specialized sporting facilities. Why not a biker park?

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